Kayln Hugdahl, who came to the University of Iowa from Naperville, Illinois, graduated with distinction on May 12, 2018, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Physiology and a minor in Spanish. She was selected to give the student address at the College of Liberal arts and Sciences Commencement ceremony.
A committed member of the UI community, Kayln volunteered more than 100 hours at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics as an undergraduate. She participated in Dance Marathon all of her four undergrad years, joining her fellow students in raising millions of dollars for pediatric cancer research and treatment, and she served on the Executive Board for Chi Omega sorority. Kayln is pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree here at the University of Iowa.
Here is Kayln's Commencement speech, given on May 12, 2018, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena:
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is filled with a diverse student population. Today, we are recognizing the hard work of future anthropologists, artists, authors, doctors, researchers, athletes; the list goes on and on. The students in this room represent 31 majors and come from various backgrounds, cultures, and countries. We all have unique memories from our time at Iowa, and we influenced the community in our own ways. We hold leadership positions in student organizations, participate in research with faculty, create works of art, and are philanthropists.
Despite our diverse experiences, we share similarities, as well. Many of us remember our first days at the University of Iowa vividly. As I recall leaving home for the first time, I remember hugging my friends tightly and promising to talk often. My parents helped me pack every crevice of the car, and my dad wondered how a girl could possibly need so much stuff for a tiny dorm room. Although I never admitted it… Dad, you were right, that swim suit I absolutely needed to bring just sat at the bottom of my drawer. Which is shocking because, as we all know, it’s always swimsuit weather in Iowa!
As we drove onto campus, the gold dome on top of the Pentacrest reflected the August sun. It represented change and new beginnings. When I arrived at the residence hall, awkward roommate introductions took place as we struggled to get the sheets on our lofted beds. With each box we unpacked from the car, I felt a piece of my adolescence slipping away, and I knew the impending goodbye to my family would be the toughest one yet. Once I saw the tears well in my parents’ eyes, it hit me that I would be on my own for the first time in my life. However, as we have come to learn during these past four years, we are never truly alone at Iowa.
During the next couple of days, we started acclimating ourselves to campus and thought about what we wanted our college experience to be like. Some of us walked in herds wearing gold t-shirts because we thought all of the On Iowa events were mandatory. Others spent their time enjoying the Union of fine establishments in downtown Iowa City. There were the responsible students who walked their class schedule so they would know exactly where they were going on Monday… and those that asked to borrow a pencil at their first college lecture. And just when we thought we had the campus map engrained in our minds, we looked up and realized we had accidentally ridden the Cambus to the Hawk lot… again. We were homesick, excited, terrified, and hopeful all at the same time.
We all remember our first days on campus differently, but I think it’s safe to say we had one thing in common. We started our journey at the University of Iowa with a clean slate and a chance to make a difference. It is crazy to think that those slates, once clean and full of potential, are now filled with four years worth of memories. The students in this room have achieved tremendous accomplishments in their fields of study and in the community. In the past four years University of Iowa students have fundraised over $10 million for pediatric cancer through Dance Marathon. We stormed the football field after defeating Michigan and Ohio State and cheered on the Hawkeyes as they competed in Bowl games. We made history this year by starting a tradition that is internationally recognized, the Kinnick Wave. For years to come, fans will wave at the kids in the Stead Family Children’s Hospital with a fighting Hawkeye spirit. We filled the seats of Hancher auditorium for its brand new opening. We faced the effects of budget cuts and political differences with class by respectfully speaking out on campus. We studied abroad, created new student organizations, and most importantly, we enacted change with everything we did.
And now, as we accept our diplomas and embark on a new journey, we stand together as Hawkeyes with a new clean slate. Some of us will continue our education. We may join the Armed Forces or start a family. Others will begin full time jobs. No matter where our paths take us after today, we will be united as University of Iowa alumni and will make our fellow Hawkeyes proud. We made our mark here in Iowa City and now it is time to go out into the world and keep making history, breaking down barriers, and teaching those who are next in line.
Congratulations to the Class of 2018. As always, On Iowa, Go Hawks!