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More than 1,700 graduates honored at NKU Fall 2021 Commencement

NKU Fall 2021 Commencement Ceremony from stage

NKU Fall 2021 Commencement - Afternoon Ceremony

NKU Fall 2021 Commencement Ceremony from graduates

NKU Fall 2021 Commencement - Afternoon Ceremony

NKU Fall 2021 Commencement Ceremony - student waves into crowd

NKU Fall 2021 Commencement - Afternoon Ceremony

NKU President Ashish Vaidya walks into NKU Fall 2021 Morning Commencement

NKU Fall 2021 Commencement - Morning Ceremony

Student throws Norse Up during NKU Fall 2021 Commencement Morning Ceremony

NKU Fall 2021 Commencement - Morning Ceremony

Student enters NKU Fall 2021 Commencement Morning Ceremony

NKU Fall 2021 Commencement - Morning Ceremony

December 18, 2021 —  Northern Kentucky University honored more than 1,700 graduates with family and friends looking on at the 49th Annual Commencement exercises Saturday at BB&T Arena. 

Graduates from the College of Education, College of Arts & Sciences, and the Haile College of Business were honored in a ceremony at 10 a.m., while College of Informatics and College of Health and Human Services graduates held their ceremony at 3 p.m. Thousands of people packed into BB&T Arena to recognize the achievements of the Class of 2021. 

“On behalf of Northern Kentucky University, I’d like to congratulate all of our graduates on the completion of their degrees and certificates,” NKU President Ashish Vaidya said. “Today is a culmination of the hard work they have put into their education, the courage they have shown, no matter what each day put before them and the desire to succeed which brought them to NKU. Each of their stories show the kind of place this is: an institution committed to being a student-ready, regionally engaged university that empowers diverse learners for economic and social mobility.” 

A total of 1,756 students earned degrees on Saturday, including students who finished in both August and December. Of those, 332 are first-generation students and 181 are under-represented minority learners. 

Saturday morning, Lindsey Schilling addressed fellow classmates. Schilling graduated summa cum laude from the Haile College of Business with a degree in accounting and a business minor. During her time at NKU, she has received Dean’s List and Presidential Honors, completed multiple internships with local and regional accounting firms in the greater Cincinnati area as well as providing consulting services to local businesses. In her earlier years, Schilling didn’t exactly know what she wanted to be when she grew up, but she did know one thing: she wanted to make a difference. Through her college career, NKU has helped Schilling to find her path to making a difference and provided opportunities for her to positively impact our local and regional community.  

During the afternoon ceremony, Pikeville, Ky. native Kayly Isaac addressed her peers. Isaac graduated magna cum laude with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from NKU’s 16-month accelerated program for postbaccalaureate individuals. Before starting the ABSN Program, Isaac graduated from Morehead State University in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology as a George M. Lackey Honor’s Program student before beginning her preparation to practice as a registered nurse through NKU. During her time at NKU, Isaac stayed active in her program by serving as her cohort’s representative in multiple committees including the BSN Program Committee, Program Evaluation Committee and Student Advisory Committee. In these committees, Isaac was able to advocate for student needs, provide student perspectives and recommendations, and convey pertinent information on behalf of her cohort. She was selected as the recipient of the Janice Mabry Cantrell Scholarship due to her strong personal values and nursing philosophy. 

Dr. Kimberly Clayton-Code, professor in the College of Education, also addressed graduates in both Commencement ceremonies. Dr. Clayton-Code is the 2021 recipient of the Frank Sinton Milburn Outstanding Professor Award. Student Government Association president Aliya Cannon also spoke. 

There are now more than 73,000 Northern Kentucky University graduates living and working in every corner of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and across the globe.

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit