Millikin University to honor Class of 2024 at Spring Commencement May 19

Two graduation celebrations will honor more than 270 graduates.

DECATUR, Ill. – More than 270 Millikin University graduates from the Class of 2024 will be honored at Spring Commencement on Sunday, May 19, at Kirkland Fine Arts Center on Millikin's campus. Two Commencement ceremonies will be held to recognize graduates from undergraduate and graduate degree programs. 

Millikin graduates
Two graduation celebrations will honor more than 270 Millikin University graduates on May 19.

Graduating students will be allowed up to six guests at the ceremony. Millikin community members unable to attend the ceremony in person will be able to watch the ceremony through a public live stream on the Commencement site.

Millikin graduates in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Tabor School of Business will participate in the first ceremony on May 19 at 10 a.m. Doors will open at 9 a.m.

Jake Shumaker

The morning ceremony will feature student speaker Jake Shumaker, of Mount Zion, Ill., who is graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Arts & Sciences with a major in Computer Science. Shumaker’s speech is titled “Authenticity & Appreciation.”

During his four years at Millikin, Shumaker has been very involved as a student leader. He is a Scovill Award winner, the highest recognition at the annual Honors Convocation, selected on the basis of high academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, service, and scholarship. Shumaker has served as a Senior Consultant for the student-run venture Millikin University Performance Consulting (MUPC). Shumaker has also received the Podeschi-Landacre Management Information Systems Award, given to a student(s) who have shown excellence and leadership in Performance Learning experiences, and the Mathematics & Computer Science Award, given to outstanding junior or senior majoring in Mathematics or Computer Science. In Athletics, he is an NCAA Division III Track and Field All-American in the 800 meters, finishing fifth nationally during the 2023 Indoor Track season. 

Amber KaylorThe morning ceremony keynote speaker is Amber Kaylor, a Millikin Class of 2006 graduate and MBA graduate in 2016. Kaylor’s speech is titled “Do it Scared, Do it Anyway.” 

As the CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois, Kaylor is a seasoned professional in the not-for-profit industry. A double alumna, Kaylor is driven by a commitment to serving others and has aided multiple organizations in reaching significant financial milestones. Previously, Kaylor served as the President and CEO of the Children’s Museum of Illinois, where she successfully executed a notable expansion focusing on first responders. 

Graduates from the College of Fine Arts and the College of Professional Studies will participate in the second ceremony at 3 p.m. Doors will open at 2 p.m. 

The afternoon ceremony will feature student speaker Alela L. Kinyua, of Hinesville, Georgia, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the College of Fine Arts with a major in Art Therapy. Kinyua’s speech is titled “Time to Shine.” Alela Kinyua

Kinyua has been artistic and creative her entire life and picked up the paintbrush in 2018 and found it was something she wanted to study. She has been the recipient of the Dr. J. Roger Miller Leadership Award, given to seniors who exemplify superior qualities of academic excellence and leadership, and the Dorothy Sellers Art Award, for outstanding achievement and potential, and setting a standard of excellence for the School of Art & Creative Media. Kinyua has served as the President of the Black Student Union, is active in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and assisted Big Blue students as a Resident Assistant in Dolson Hall. 

The afternoon ceremony keynote speaker is LaVon Fisher-Wilson, a Class of 1995 Millikin graduate. Fisher-Wilson’s speech is titled “What Is Meant for You."

LaVon Fisher-Wilson

As an actress and singer, Fisher-Wilson has spent close to 20 years performing on the Broadway stage, with major roles in “The Color Purple,” “Chicago,” “Lysistrata Jones,” and “Newsies.” Her credits also include television and film roles, appearing in “Quantico,” HBO’s “Divorce,” Disney’s “Teen Beach Movie,” and many others. With the love of her husband, Darrell Wilson, she names her three best productions as Darrell Jr., Darrien, and DaVonna Wilson.

For more information on Millikin University's May 2024 commencement ceremonies, please visit