Indiana State University Newsroom

Commencement to feature alumni, student speakers

April 29, 2009

Indiana State University's class of 2009 will hear from an alumnus who has had a successful career in government and financial services and from one of its own who aspires to a career in the foreign service.

Roger Schmelzer, president and chief executive officer of the National Conference of Insurance Guaranty Funds (NCIGF), will serve as alumni speaker for the university's May commencement while Sadie Davis, a political science and pre-law major, has been selected as student commencement speaker.

Schmelzer has become a nationally-recognized spokesperson for the safety net that provides financial protection to consumers in the event their insurance companies fail. He is responsible for day-to-day operations, member services and managing external relationships for NCIGF.

Previously, he was senior vice president of state and regulatory affairs for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) in Indianapolis. In that position, he implemented dramatic change in state advocacy strategy and the resources available to NAMIC member companies. He was also responsible for a public policy issue development process that combined state, regulatory, and federal and public affairs.

In the evening, Schmelzer often swaps his briefcase for a microphone and hits the musical theater stage. Last year he released a CD of cabaret and jazz songs called "About Now."

He plans to speak to ISU graduates about "The Power of And."

Schmelzer said his Indiana State education taught him never to rule out the possibilities of anything in the pursuit of the best possible outcome, either personally or professionally.

"Taking responsibility for your actions and remaining enthusiastic, you can accomplish a great deal. That is 'The Power of And.' I learned more about this during my time in Terre Haute than in all the years before and call on those experiences every day," he said. "I am deeply honored to be able to share this perspective 30 years practically to the day that I walked across the stage at Hulman Center to collect my diploma."

In addition to bachelor's (1979) and master's (1981) degrees from Indiana State, Schmelzer holds a law degree from Indiana University. He has served as chief of staff and chief legal counsel to the speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives. He also practiced public policy law in Indianapolis, worked as executive assistant to Sen. Richard G. Lugar and served as legislative liaison to the Indiana secretary of state.

Student speaker

As this year's graduates prepare to step into an uncertain future, Davis plans to offer advice using shoes as a metaphor, building on a speech she took to a national competition with the Martinsville High School Academic Decathlon team.

"I focused on the advice mothers often give their daughters - a good pair of shoes, if you take care of them, will take you anywhere," she said.

Davis took that advice and created an analogy to describe her experiences at Indiana State.

She links shoes in her closet to experiences on campus and beyond - a silver pair of flip flops represents her time studying abroad in Costa Rica and retrieving a Frisbee in the fountain during orientation. High heels reflect experiences as a President's Scholar, her time at the Democratic National Convention and high profile events on campus. Her tennis shoes represent the everyday experiences on campus and the friendships she's developed with faculty, staff and students. She has advice for incoming freshmen and current college students to challenge themselves.

"Try different classes and don't get too attached to your major. Learn for the sake of learning. Do things you don't normally do," she says. "I wouldn't have ever guessed that I could attend the Democratic National Convention but all I needed to do was write a letter expressing interest."

This fall, Davis will enter the Maxwell School, a graduate school of social science at Syracuse University. She plans to enroll in a dual degree program in international relations and public relations and is already looking forward to the two-year program's culminating experience.

"I'll spend my last semester in Washington, D.C. serving an internship," she said. Given her area of interest, she'd like to stay in the nation's capital.

"I'm interested in diplomacy and conflict resolution," she added, saying working as an ambassador or a foreign service officer are two career possibilities.

"I'd like to play a role on the international stage," she said.

Davis, and hundreds of other Indiana State University graduates, will enter the next stage in their lives during ISU's 138th commencement Saturday, May 9 in Hulman Center. The processional of graduates is scheduled to begin at 1:45 p.m. with the ceremony following at approximately 2 p.m.

Free parking will be available in all university parking lots and in the Cherry Street Multi-Modal Transportation Facility. Limited accessible parking will be available on Eagle Street between Eighth and Ninth streets for vehicles displaying a valid handicap parking permit.

Commencement exercises will be broadcast online. The Web broadcast of the procession will begin at 1:30 p.m. To access the web-broadcast of commencement, click on the "Commencement Broadcast 2009" button on the ISU home page, There is no fee to watch the graduation exercises. The broadcast will conclude at 5:30 p.m.

Roger Schmelzer
Sadie Davis

Media contacts and writers: Dave Taylor, media relations director, 812-237-3743 or and Paula Meyer, media relations coordinator, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3783 or


Story Highlights

Indiana State Universitys class of 2009 will hear from an alumnus who has had a successful career in government and financial services and from one of its own who aspires to a career in the foreign service. Commencement is scheduled for May 9 in Hulman Center.

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