Nearly 400 Students Become RIT/NTID Alums

NTID Delegate Lauren Aggen addresses her fellow graduating students. Photo by Mark Benjamin, NTID.

More than 3,500 RIT students donned caps and gowns for graduation last week. Of those, 394 graduated from NTID, or had NTID support while attending other colleges on the RIT campus.

“I am happy to preside at this ceremony, which recognizes in formal spirit the educational accomplishment and personal growth of students who have finished their programs at RIT,” said NTID President Gerry Buckley.

Of the NTID-supported graduates, 173 received an associate degree; 21 interpreter graduates received a bachelor’s degree; 34 graduated from NTID’s Master of Science program in Secondary Education; and 166 graduated from the other colleges of RIT.

“Graduation is a very important day,” RIT Provost Jeremy Haefner said. “You have been working hard to get your degree. Each of you has developed the skills and knowledge to face future challenges and experiences. … We expect to hear about your accomplishments.”

RIT President Bill Destler also congratulated the graduating students and their families.

“Your time in Rochester has been a special time for both you and NTID and RIT,” Destler said. “Together we have seen much change over the past few years, and we will all have much to remember as we look back in the future. Come back and see your family, friends, and NTID and RIT often. All of them will be a source of support for you in good times and bad.”

Lauren Aggen, from Algonquin, Ill., was selected as the NTID delegate to represent the college at RIT’s convocation ceremony. Lauren is a member of the first class of NTID’s applied liberal arts program, graduating with a 3.8 grade point average. Her department chair, Katie Schmitz, called her, “a superlative representative for NTID.” Aggen recently authored a book chronicling her experience as the recipient of a transplanted heart when she was eight days old.

“We all came to college looking for growth in many forms,” Aggen told her fellow students. “Some objectives we couldn’t even describe. This campus, and the people here, became a new home and a place where I discovered more of who I am.”

She said the blend of hearing and deaf students sharing a campus was one reason she came to RIT/NTID.

“Much of my self-exploration was sidetracked as I tried to understand how diverse groups mesh successfully,” she said. “Beyond communication, there were so many facets to interactions. At times I felt as if I were on a ship rocking to the starboard side, where part of my comfort zone expanded smoothly, but was then thrown to the port side where I questioned so much of what I had accepted or taken for granted previously. For me, the journey continues as I explore more unknowns.”

Aggen plans to return to the RIT campus in the fall to pursue a bachelor's degree. Her goal is to become a teacher.

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