Spotlight: IU East Commencement Student Speaker is first online student to address graduates

Spotlight: IU East Commencement Student Speaker is first online student to address graduates

KathrynMarr
Kathryn Marr

Kathryn Marr of Nashville Tenn., is the student speaker for the Indiana University East 44th Commencement Ceremony. The ceremony will be held tonight (May 15) at 6 p.m. at the Richmond High School Tiernan Center.

This year, the university will confer 749 baccalaureate degrees and master’s degrees, a significant increase for IU East and marks the university’s highest number of graduates in a given year. Of those receiving a degree, just over 350 will participate in the ceremony.

Marr, who completed her Bachelor of Science in Communications Studies online, was selected to address the Class of 2015 after auditioning for the honor. She is the first distance education student to address a graduating class.

IU East online degree programs offer the high quality of an Indiana University degree to students throughout Indiana, nationally and internationally. IU East offers 10 options for students to complete their bachelor’s degree and two graduate certificates online. Of the total number of graduates, there are 53 Indiana counties represented, 30 states and 11 countries.

“As an online student, there were times that I felt a bit disconnected from the physical campus and my fellow classmates, though IU East did a fantastic job of minimizing that. When I was given the opportunity to audition for student speaker, I saw it as one way to share my experiences and thoughts with the people that I’ve been interacting with 400 miles away over the past several years,” Marr said. “I’ve learned quite a bit through the unique experience of being an online student and running my digital marketing company while completing school. I look forward to sharing the invaluable lessons that I’ve learned with my fellow classmates.”

On Friday, Marr is visiting campus for the first time for the Distance Education Graduate Luncheon, an event that provides online graduates traveling to Richmond with an opportunity to meet fellow graduates, faculty and staff in person as well as to tour the campus.

Marr said she is excited to visit campus and the city of Richmond.

“I’m looking forward to meeting my professors, as well as my advisor, Rosalie Aldrich. They were all crucial to helping me navigate through my time as an online student, and, with their help, I always felt a connection to my classmates and professors throughout my time at IU East. I never felt as though I missed much of the ‘college experience’ not being at a physical location,” Marr said.

The possibility of completing her bachelor’s degree online attracted Marr to IU East. Marr found the online program to be an attractive option to complete her degree while working so she transferred to IU East.

“I co-founded a digital marketing company halfway through my college career and, at the time that I transferred to IU East, I was looking for a way to run my business and complete a degree program. Indiana provided that method for me. I was able to work completely from home, on my own schedule, and still graduate and grow my company,” Marr said. “I chose the communication’s degree program because it applies to the industry that I’m in. As an entrepreneur, I communicate with clients and on behalf of clients on a regular basis, especially in the marketing field. And the things that I learned throughout my time at IU East will be invaluable to my career.”

As an online student, Marr said she felt that everyone at IU East was extremely flexible and willing to help make her time as a student work for her lifestyle and career choices. She added that though she was an online student, she was able to get involved with her classmates through discussion boards.

When Marr travels to commencement this week, she will be joined by her husband, Luke, mother and her in-laws, who will be traveling from across the United States to attend the ceremony. She added that she will have more family and friends watching the ceremony from home on the live broadcast, available online at iue.edu/live.

“I’m just extremely grateful for my time at IU East and for the honor of speaking at commencement. My experiences here have helped shape my mindset, education and career and I am forever grateful,” Marr said.

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