Indiana State University Newsroom

Speakers to graduates: You didn't get here alone

December 17, 2012

A federal judge and a newly minted nurse reminded Indiana State University graduates Saturday they didn't get where they are - and won't get where they're going - entirely on their own.

Craig McKee, a U.S. District Court magistrate and a 1979 Indiana State alumnus, recalled the recent passing of Neil Armstrong and how he neither sought nor welcomed attention after becoming the first man on the moon in 1969.

"He acknowledged over the 43 years he lived after that achievement that he relied on a network of others to enrich his individual success," McKee said. "The educated person understands that individual success is not up to him or her only."

McKee noted that, in a eulogy for Armstrong, Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde's concluded the astronaut claimed no extraordinary individual credit not because of modesty or lack of ambition but because he realized "no one goes to the moon alone ... Neil Armstrong wanted us to know that. It wasn't about him; it was about all of us, together."

In his alumni address, McKee told Indiana State graduates they will come to rely on a network of people from whom they seek counsel.

"You will need mentors-people whose wisdom and experience will inform your own. It will be about all of you, together," he said. "You will discuss issues with veteran teachers in the faculty lounge or a senior pilot with whom you share a cockpit. You will learn from a sales manager who understands how to overcome a slack time or an experienced nurse who remembers what it was to be new on the floor. You begin careers knowing a great deal because of your education, but also less than you realize or will need."

McKee reminded graduates they completed their degrees not only because of individual diligence but because of family members and others - "school teachers, professors, fellow students, coaches, and even the donors and taxpayers who are interwoven into this great public university."

Indiana State was founded nearly 150 years ago, "when Hoosiers even then valued education," he said. "We are beneficiaries of those Hoosier values and you become part of that ISU tradition today. Be proud, of course, but also be wise enough to honor what others have done to make this day possible for you."

McKee delivered his address in the form of a "letter" to the graduates, recalling how instant communication during his childhood "was an expensive, rarely used long-distance telephone call" and the letters he received, especially from his grandmothers, "were handwritten, personal, filled with life's ordinary events - as trivial as some of the texts you exchange, and yet written with love and regularity."

McKee cited best-selling author Dave Eggers' tribute to his high school English teacher, who first encouraged him to consider writing as a vocation.

"He wrote that his teacher's encouragement ‘was as if he'd ripped off the ceiling and shown me the sky'," McKee said. "Surely there is at least one person in your life who touched you in an indelible way. Consider writing them a letter. Not an email, please. And give your thumbs a rest-stop making the gift of instant communication a curse of constant communication. Take out a paper and pen, just like the old days, and go retro."

Student speaker Brad Hobbs of Indianapolis, who completed a bachelor's degree in nursing, reminded fellow graduates that family, friends, faculty and staff "have many times given you a shoulder to lean on, and a hug when you've done well, and possibly a kick in the butt when you needed it most."

It is important for graduates to remember why they came to Indiana State and what they accomplished at the university, Hobbs said.

"There is no doubt that our educations here have prepared us for our careers. But we have also gained so much more," he said, listing faculty members who offered guidance that promoted his personal growth and maturity. "They have challenged me to become a better version of myself. The test remains now for me and you ... how to use our education and experience to improve the communities where we go on life's journey."

Education is transformative and helps provide the means to become contributing members of society, Hobbs said.

"Nelson Mandela explains that, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world'," he said. "Today we have achieved something truly significant and Indiana State University has assisted us to become better-equipped, better prepared, and better educated to help improve the world. When we look for a job we should use our ISU training to search for a career, not just for a paycheck. As my Dad always says, find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life."

University President Dan Bradley also addressed the more than 400 graduates who took part in Saturday's ceremony, saying he continues to be impressed with all that Indiana State's students accomplish.

"I am looking forward to seeing you enthusiastically apply the skills and knowledge you have garnered while at ISU to advance your careers, serve your communities and literally help change the world," Bradley said. "I challenge you to continue learning throughout your lifetime. This world continues to change rapidly and one must be willing to adapt to these changes to continue to succeed."

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