Coe alumnus, business leader and scientist Karim I. Budhwani to deliver Coe commencement address

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
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2018-04-20 12:45:38 - General

Coe alumnus Karim I. Budhwani, CEO-scientist of elixir international, will deliver the commencement address on Sunday, May 6, at 10 a.m. at Coe College. Continuing a tradition that began last year, a Coe graduating senior—Nathan Kibler—will represent the class of 2018 as the student speaker.

This year's baccalaureate speaker is the Rev. Heather Lynn Hayes, the senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids. Baccalaureate will be held on Saturday, May 5, beginning at 11 a.m. in Sinclair Auditorium.

At Coe's commencement, President David McInally will confer Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Music degrees on 280 graduates. In addition, other special Coe honorees will be recognized during the ceremony. 

Senior speaker Nathan Kibler

Nathan Kibler
Nathan Kibler

Through a competitive process open to all members of the class of 2018, Nathan Kibler was selected as this year's Coe commencement senior speaker.

A native of Phoenix, Kibler is a triple major in art, environmental studies and public relations, with a minor in art history. He has been active in many organizations at Coe, serving as president of Environmental Club for three years and vice president for Habitat for Humanity. In addition, he is a member of Sustainability Council and serves as an assistant area coordinator for Coe residence life.

During his time at Coe, Kibler has also been involved in Art Club, the League of Conservation Voters and Children of Promise. For the past three years, he has interned as a graphic designer with the Coe Marketing Department.

Commencement speaker Karim I. Budhwani

Nathan Kibler
Karim I. Budhwani

A native of India, Karim I. Budhwani graduated magna cum laude from Coe College in 1993, triple majoring in computer science, economics and business administration, with a minor in mathematics. He received International Management Audit certification from the London School of Economics in 2004. Budhwani earned his Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering (MSBME) in 2015, and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering with a focus in nanomedicine this year, all from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Budhwani is the CEO-Scientist of elixir international based in Birmingham, a company dedicated to finding ways to eliminate waste, simplify solutions and help people. For excellence in leadership among top executives, the Birmingham Business Journal named Budhwani CEO of the Year for 2016. In 2017, Birmingham B-Metro recognized him among those "who fascinate, inspire and make this city a great place to live" in their Annual A-List.

In addition to his responsibilities as CEO-Scientist of elixir international, Budhwani serves Ambassador at the Center for Advancing Innovation, and lecturer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Business covering Globalization and Operational Optimization.

Budhwani has served as Ambassador of Trade for his home state of Alabama on key trade missions to India, Australia, New Zealand and Russia. He recently retired as Chairman for both the Ismail Professionals Network (IPN) USA and the broader Global IPN Forum (GIF), which spans over 20 countries on five continents.

Educated in true liberal arts tradition, Budhwani has always maintained that the two-fold purpose of acquiring knowledge is to better understand the fabric of existence and to serve others. This principle is the driving force for both his pursuit of the Ph.D. and for his relentless advancement of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Liberal Arts, and Math) as a tool for socio-economic development in Alabama, and around the world. Before co-founding elixir international, he provided expert consulting services to Fortune 100 companies on various multi-million and some multi-hundred-million dollar initiatives.

Budhwani has enthusiastically and loyally supported his undergraduate alma mater in many ways since his graduation, serving as a mentor for Coe students and a current member of the Coe College Alumni Council.

Baccalaureate speaker Rev. Heather Lynn Hayes

Nathan Kibler
Rev. Heather Lynn Hayes

This year's baccalaureate speaker will be the Rev. Heather Lynn Hayes, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids. A native of Cedar Rapids, Pastor Hayes is a graduate of Iowa State University and McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

During her time in Chicago, Hays discovered a love of community ministry and engagement across cultural, economic and generational divides. From small-town rural Iowa to downtown Cedar Rapids, she has built a ministry based on helping congregations in the work of creating community that is filled with grace, compassion, inclusion and justice, spreading the beacon of God's love to the world.

Equally comfortable in jeans at a mission work site, playing games in Greene Square during Bible school, or wearing preaching robes in a pulpit, Pastor Hayes has extended her ministry into the Cedar Rapids community. She currently serves on the board of Matthew 25, an organization that has been instrumental in flood recovery and neighborhood revitalization on the west side of Cedar Rapids.

Hayes also serves on the board of Family Promise, an interfaith hospitality network that provides alternative solutions for children and families experiencing homelessness. In addition, she serves as a moderator for Ethical Perspectives on the News, participates in the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County, and helps to organize any number of community events and bridge-building efforts.

Schedule of events

Saturday, May 5

  • 11 a.m. - Baccalaureate service in Sinclair Auditorium 
  • 1 p.m. - Nurses' Pinning Ceremony in Dows Theatre
  • 1:30 p.m. - Phi Beta Kappa initiates will be honored at an induction ceremony in the Perrine Gallery of Stewart Memorial Library.
  • 2:30 p.m. - Academic Honors Convocation in Sinclair Auditorium

Sunday, May 6

  • 10 a.m. - Graduates will ring the Victory Bell in front of Eby Fieldhouse and then proceed across campus, escorted by the faculty, for the start of commencement exercises on the Stewart Memorial Library mall. Graduates will be honored at a reception in Gage Memorial Union Dining Hall – The "U" – following commencement. In case of inclement weather, the commencement ceremony will be held in Kohawk Arena.

For more information on graduation weekend events, go to