Indiana State University Newsroom

Alumna, student to speak at May commencement

May 3, 2010

The Indiana State University class of 2010 will hear from an alumna who oversees the interests of 124,000 Verizon employees and a graduating senior who overcame the odds to be at Indiana State.

Connia Nelson, a 1977 graduate of ISU with a bachelor's degree in business, will serve as alumni speaker for the university's May commencement. Shanel Poole, a senior legal studies and communication major, will serve as the student commencement speaker.

Nelson, is senior vice president for human resources with Verizon Telecom. Nelson previously worked with General Telephone of Indiana in human resources, management education, curriculum development and employee development in Westfield, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.

She serves on the National Campaign Council for the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, N.C. She is also a member of the board of trustees at Post University in Waterbury, Conn. She mentors individuals of various ages both professionally and personally. Nelson has volunteered her time with the American Diabetes Association and has been a participant in the National Urban League's Black Executive Exchange Program.

The National Eagle Leadership Institute and "CareerFocus" magazine honored Nelson with the 2007 CareerFocus Eagle Award, given to the nation's premier African American and Latino professionals for their business and community leadership.

In addition to her degree from Indiana State, Nelson holds a Master of Arts in organizational management from Dallas Baptist University.

In her time at Indiana State, Shanel Poole served as president of the Student African American Sisterhood and as a consultant for Student Leadership. She has been involved with the Student Alumni Association, the National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community and the Toastmasters International Communications and Leadership Program.

Poole is also part of the McNair Graduate Opportunity Program, a doctoral preparation program for first-generation college students and students from groups that are underrepresented in graduate education. As a McNair scholar, Poole studied abroad in Mexico to earn college credit toward her Spanish minor. She is also the recipient of a Focus Indiana scholarship.

Poole's accomplishments are particularly remarkable in light of her background.

The Indianapolis native was a rebellious teen raised in a home with an alcoholic father, now deceased. She dropped out of high school, spent time in girl's reform school, then obtained her GED before she began attending ISU.

She interned with Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and plans to intern with the Marion County prosecutor this summer. She is the founder and director of the youth program GLAM, Gorgeous Ladies Acting Maturely. She was a facilitator at the Indiana Black Expo Crime Prevention Roundtable. Poole is a certified gang and female gang specialist.

She is also a member of the National Scholars Honor Society, the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa National Honor Society,.

After graduation, Poole plans to attend law school to be able to help other juveniles like her.

Commencement at Indiana State is scheduled for May 8 in Hulman Center. The processional of graduates will begin at 1:45 p.m. with the ceremony to follow at 2 p.m.

Photos: - Connia Nelson - Shanel Poole

Writer: Lana Schrock, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or