Tuesday, May 14, 2024
Keynote speech
Rodríguez-Rodríguez delivering keynote speech

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To honor international graduates from fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024, the University of Iowa (UI) held the 2024 International Student Graduation Celebration on Wednesday, May 8, in the International Ballroom at the Iowa Memorial Union. Over 170 people attended the event, which was hosted by Nandita Nair, a graduate student in mathematics, and Nico Sheck, a graduate student in education.

Dr. Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the UI Department of Spanish and Portuguese, delivered the keynote speech.

“Don't lose your adventurous spirit, which has brought you here, and remember that we never stop learning,” said Rodriguez-Rodriguez.  “Nurture the curiosity you have now because it will lead you to discover people, worlds, and possibilities that you can't even imagine. The true adventure of life begins now. Go for it!”

The event's highlight was the award ceremony, where a series of International Student Graduation Awards were presented to outstanding individuals across various areas. Here is a list of the award categories and their recipients:

  • Leadership Award: Haoyu Zheng and Raghav Sharma
  • Academic & Scholarly Achievement Award: Mengtong Liu and Meng Zhou
  • Engagement, Advocacy & Service Award: Frankline Matanji and Ugochukwu Madu
  • Most Unique Curricular Practical Training Award: Jongkwan Yun and Samaneh Najafi

The faculty and staff recognition awards, honoring those who provided outstanding support to international students at Iowa, went to Dr. Melissa Tully, professor and director of the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Shuhui Lin, coordinator for international student support and engagement in UI International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).

Lyu and Ganim
Lyu and Ganim posing for photo together

Russell Ganim, associate provost and dean of UI International Programs, gave the closing remarks. 

“We deeply admire your courage and determination,” said Ganim. “The challenge you posed to yourselves is greater than many of the challenges most people face in their lifetimes. You have risen to a level of accomplishment and self-assurance that will serve you well for the rest of your lives. The university is honored to be part of your success as we applaud and celebrate your achievements.”

The event concluded with a graduation toast led by Katherine Lyu, an international student from China.  She started by sharing a personal story.  

“There was one time during ISSS advising hours when Michael [Bortscheller] asked me how I was doing,” recalled Lyu. “I said, 'Still alive,' and he burst into laughter, saying that 'still alive' is a very Midwestern expression. Then he noted, 'You're becoming very Midwestern.'”

The celebration featured musical and dance performances by the Dunn Quartet and One Spark, adding a special touch by showcasing the impressive talent of international students at Iowa.

The 2024 International Student Graduation Celebration was coordinated by a campus-wide planning committee consisting of students, faculty, staff, and administrators. This event was made possible through the generous support of UI International Programs and UI International Student Support and Engagement. 


International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement.  IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.