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Student commencement speaker: ‘Keep paddling on’

Thousands will take their seats May 13 at Michael A. Carroll Stadium, dressed in their cap and gown, to celebrate commencement and mark a new beginning for the Class of 2023. It’s a momentous ceremony, and one that will be a first for IUPUI’s undergraduate student speaker, Myra Kivett.

Myra Kivett will serve as the 2023 undergraduate student speaker at IUPUI's commencement cere... Myra Kivett will serve as the 2023 undergraduate student speaker at IUPUI's commencement ceremony. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Kivett, who graduated with her degree in communication studies from the School of Liberal Arts and with highest distinction from the Honors College in December, never had a big graduation ceremony in high school because of the pandemic. When one of her advisors suggested she apply to be the student speaker, it was a no brainer.

“I was on the speech team in high school, and I love public speaking,” Kivett said. “I spent my spring break writing the speech, and it paid off. When I went and looked at my email it was like ‘Congratulations!’ and I started tearing up. That made my whole college career.”

Being a singer, writing a speech for Kivett was a bit like writing a song. In addition to her communication studies, she completed a music minor, taking voice lessons and advancing her skills on the piano and guitar. Many days you can find her playing the piano and writing songs in one of the practice rooms of the Informatics and Communications Technology Complex on campus. She has since recorded many of those songs and even released music videos.

Myra Kivett plays piano and writes music on campus at the ICTC building. Photo by Liz Kaye, India... Myra Kivett plays piano and writes music on campus at the ICTC building. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Photography is another one of her passions. Kivett works with IUPUI Athletics to take photos at games and was even there on the sidelines when the women’s basketball team won the Horizon League Tournament in 2022. Whether it’s music, sports or work with the Delta Zeta sorority, Kivett said that being involved and making connections meant the most during her college career.

“College is about the work, but it’s also about the friendships and the bonds that you make,” she said. “And the networking opportunities that I’ve been able to have as a student have been awesome.

“When I came here and lived on campus my sophomore year, I was having a hard time initially, because everything was online from freshman year. So I didn’t really know a lot of people, and I had to make a huge effort to get involved.”

Getting involved also included participating in one of IUPUI’s biggest traditions, Regatta. She rowed with the Christian Student Fellowship … and yes, she did fall in. The excitement and perseverance of Regatta were part of what inspired her commencement speech.

“We were having a blast, just paddling, and the other half of our team was off to the side like ‘Go! Go!” and we just were laughing. We were trying our best and we weren’t last,” Kivett said.

“I feel like in life, you don’t necessarily realize all the hard things that you’ve done. There’s so many things that we’ve overcome in college, and even before college. We’re kind of able to use all of those things to help move us forward. In terms of the metaphor, rowing against the wind is hard, but it’s been done before and can be done again.”

And there is so much more to come. Kivett is working on a master’s degree in applied communications at IUPUI and is continuing to pursue her music career. Whether making music in her hometown in Fishers, or even Nashville, Tennessee, Kivett said she is proud of her time as an undergraduate at IUPUI and is excited for what’s next.

“The things that we are going through, they don’t always tell us the truth about our situation. Look at all you’ve done so far in college. You can do so much more. Keep paddling on.”

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