Indiana State University Newsroom

Winter commencement set for Saturday

December 7, 2011

Dean Hirsch holds degrees from two colleges and has earned four honorary doctorates during a career spent on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged. Judy Branham is a non-traditional student who is completing her first bachelor's degree, with honors.

Hirsch and Branham will deliver separate addresses Dec. 17 during Indiana State University's winter commencement.

Hirsch, former president of World Vision International, is a part-time consultant to non-profit agencies, including World Vision and Child Help, as well as KPMG International, a network of firms offering audit, tax and advisory services.

As an ambassador for KPMG's Global Development Initiative, Hirsch works on behalf of the company's public sector practices, including international development services and the global grants program, which engage in sustainable development practices in several countries.

Hirsch is known for refocusing World Vision¹s development and advocacy work on children. Globally, its programs benefit more than 3.6 million children and their families. On Hirsch¹s watch, World Vision dramatically scaled up its relief operations, responding to large scale disasters including the Asian tsunami in 2005-06 and the Myanmar cyclone and Sichuan earthquake in 2008.

"We should not tolerate the needless suffering of children," Hirsch said. "Our mission is to help create a world in which no child suffers or dies for lack of food, clean water, shelter, or protection from exploitation or war."

A veteran of world trouble spots including Somalia and North Korea, Hirsch has worked extensively in disaster and post-conflict situations. He helped set up famine relief in Ethiopia, AIDS prevention work in Africa and Asia, and peace building programs in countries such as Bosnia, Rwanda, and El Salvador.

Hirsch, 63, holds a master's degree from Indiana State and a bachelor's degree and an honorary doctorate from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif. He also holds honorary doctorates from Pepperdine University, Eastern University of Pennsylvania and Myongji University in Seoul, Korea.

Branham, 53, of Parke County, is completing a bachelor's degree in communication/journalism at Indiana State, after earlier completing an associate degree in visual communication/photography at Ivy Tech Community College.

When she graduated from high school in 1976, Branham was a Hoosier Scholar earning a fully-paid four- year scholarship but life circumstances kept her from taking advantage of the scholarship. She is married to her husband Ken, and serves as an office administrator in his business, Yesteryear Builders, a builder of custom homes, barns and decorative concrete.

Branham enrolled full-time at Ivy Tech Community College in search of her first degree in 2003. That fall her father, a World War II veteran whose honors included three Purple Hearts and four bronze stars, died. Nearly 60 years after the war, her dad was pleased his service helped her ultimately pursue her goal of a college-degree via an award for the children of disabled veterans, she said. In 2007, she completed her associate degree.

In 2009 she found herself unemployed which led her to pursue a bachelor's degree at Indiana State.

Branham said her commencement address will seek to inspire her fellow graduates "to look at positive examples we have all had in life and follow those good examples."

Branham said she would not have been able to complete a four-year degree without the veterans' award, scholarships received and "the kindness that people have shown along the way. We need to continue to be good examples and pay forward the kindness shown us."

When she made the commitment to go to college, she wanted to do something she enjoyed, Branham said. As an already accomplished photographer, and published author she had always desired to further her education as a journalist, she said.

While at Indiana State, she served an internship researching historic cemeteries, including one at the former Vigo County Poor Farm where a water line installation earlier this year revealed the presence of graves from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Branham's campus involvement includes membership in Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, Golden Key Honor Society, and reporter for Sycamore Video, Sycamore Media, and the Indiana Statesman, and publication of her research of the poor farm on Wabash Valley Visions and Voices.

Her awards include magna cum laude Latin honors, dean's list, commuter scholarship, journalism scholarship and communication department scholarship. She was a finalist for the 2010 Richard G. Landini Outstanding Junior Award and the 2011 Alan C. Rankin Distinguished Senior Award.

While at ISU Branham served the homeless at Light House Mission, took part in 5K walk/runs for cancer, placed flags at the Dede Plaza on the anniversary of Sept. 11 in honor of those who died, and helped raise funds for Soldiers Angels and Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall.

Branham is writing a book about her research of the poor farm and seeks to be a freelance writer of human interest stories.

The university will also recognize students awarded the Hines Memorial Medal for academic achievement and the President's Medal for Leadership, Scholarship and Service. See related story at

Indiana State's winter commencement is scheduled for 12 noon Dec. 17 at Hulman Center. For those unable to attend, the ceremony will be streamed live at

Photo: - Dean Hirsch

Photo: - Judith Branham

Media contact Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or



Story Highlights

Dean Hirsch, a long time executive with World Vision International, and Judy Branham, a non-traditional student from Parke County, will address December 2011 graduates.

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