Indiana State University Newsroom

New ISU students urged to stay focused on the big picture

August 23, 2010

New students at Indiana State University filed into Hulman Center Sunday night for Fall Convocation that was part pep rally, part induction ceremony and part motivational seminar.

The ISU band, cheerleaders and Sparkettes entertained. The university president and his wife, the Student Government Association president and Miss ISU called on the new arrivals to get involved on campus and ensure their success by calling on faculty, staff and fellow students for help whenever it is needed.

SGA President Steven Flowers led the freshmen in a student oath in which they pledged to devote their energies to the pursuit of truth and learning, build their education in defense of human dignity in opposition to intolerance and conduct their lives in a manner that brings honor to themselves and the university.
They were the warm up acts.


Keynote speaker Jason Winkle motivated incoming students by relaying lessons of life he learned by way of everyone from his mother to a popular movie, an Army officer and a motorcycle instructor.

Two men were hammering away at a boulder in a town square in Italy many years ago, according to story told by Winkle's mom. They were sweating profusely in the mid-day sun. When a man asked what they were doing, one of the men replied simply that he was chipping stone. The other stopped, smiled and proclaimed ‘I'm building a cathedral."

Only 8 years old at the time, "I didn't know what a cathedral was but I knew I wanted to build one," said Winkle, associate dean of Indiana State's College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services.

One man couldn't get past the mundane task of what he was doing at the moment but the other one saw the bigger picture and recognized he was building a masterpiece, Winkle explained.

He then recited other life lessons to reinforce the big picture viewpoint. From the movie "The Guardian" about Coast Guard rescue swimmers: The only difference between the rescuers and the hurricane or shipwreck victims they save is the attitude in which they enter the water. From a sergeant major in the Army Special Forces during Winkle's time as an instructor at West Point: Focus on things you can control and don't dwell on things you can't control. From a motorcycle racing instructor: Look at the wall when rounding a turn and you'll hit it. Focus instead on the road ahead and where you want to go.

Winkle told of current and former students who focus on the road ahead. They include a single mother of two who did "incredibly well" in her classes and also got involved in student activities while still being "a great mom," students who raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims or helped the sick and the poor at St. Ann's clinic, and those who left to serve their country and completed their college degrees upon their return.

The Fall Welcome Convocation capped a three-day "move-in" weekend during which about 700 faculty, staff and students volunteered to help ensure new students settled smoothly into their new surroundings. With many construction projects under way throughout campus, move-in weekend was extended by one day and students were assigned specific arrival times in an effort to reduce potential bottlenecks.

As important as it is to have the right attitude, it is also important to have the right tools for success, according to ISU officials. This year's incoming freshmen represent the fourth class that is required to have laptop computers. Nearly 1,400 new students qualified for free laptops via the ISU Laptop Award, presented to those with a 3.0 grade point average or higher on a 4.0 scale. That's nearly twice the number of Laptop Award Recipients in 2009.

University leaders told the incoming students faculty, staff and fellow students stand ready to lend a hand whenever needed.

"In this room there are hundreds of people ready to help you at any moment. All you have to do is ask. It is our job to help you succeed," said ISU first lady Cheri Bradley.

"Go to athletic events, join clubs, go to the (Student) Recreation Center, get to know your faculty, get to know the staff, get to know fellow students. If you do those things and you ask for help when you need it you will be successful," Bradley said.

"Get out there and meet as many people as you can, to take advantage of all the incredible opportunities that Indiana State University has to offer," Winkle said. "If you do those things, I can promise you one thing and that is this: That you will build an experience at ISU and you will build a life that is far more spectacular than any cathedral that's ever been built."

Photos: - ISU freshmen show some "Sycamore Pride" during the Fall Welcome for new students at Hulman Center. - Student "Blue Team" volunteers at Indiana State University carry new students' belongings to their residence hall during move-in weekend 2010. (ISU/Tony Campbell) - Some of the nearly 1,400 ISU Laptop Award recipients pick up their computers during move-in weekend 2010 at Indiana State University. (ISU/Gurinder Singh)

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