Indiana State University Newsroom

Class of 2012 encouraged to ‘sail’

May 5, 2012

Indiana State University class of 2012 graduates should not worry about sinking or swimming in the real world, but focus on where they want to sail, a fellow classmate told them during commencement Saturday.

Graduating senior Morgan Wendlandt told her peers that, while some graduates may feel anxious about whether they will "sink or swim," they should realize that they have been "given the tools during our time here at ISU to weather whatever comes our way."

"We have the ability to reach whatever goals we have set for ourselves," Wendlandt said. "We are the wind that will guide us along smooth sailing, but that will also carry us through whatever rough waters will lie ahead."

Wendlandt, a marketing major and President's Scholar who also played on the ISU women's soccer team and participated in the Honors Program and Student-Athlete Advisory committee, was chosen to be the student speaker for ISU's 141st spring commencement ceremony. More than 1,200 graduating students listened as she drew an analogy to sailing, with graduates' education and families and friends providing the various elements needed to build a boat to prevent them from "flailing for our lives in the middle of that ocean."

"When we walk across this stage today, we do so as graduates," she said. "We know we can overcome challenges, we can pass the tests in life, we can be successful and make a difference."

ISU President Daniel J. Bradley also congratulated the graduates, saying that their graduation is the "beginning of a new day in your lives."

"I continue to be impressed with all that our students accomplish," Bradley told the graduates. "I am looking forward to seeing you enthusiastically apply the skills and knowledge that you have garnered while at ISU to advance your careers, serve your communities, and literally help change the world."


Several speakers addressed the graduates during the ceremony, with retired Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard delivering the commencement address. Shepard, who in March retired after spending 27 years on the state Supreme Court and who was the country's longest serving state supreme court justice, told the graduates that, despite the challenges that await them as they venture into an economy still dealing with the fallout from the Great Recession, the value of an education at a university such as Indiana State "is more tangible than it has ever been."


"Here in this place, the values of liberal arts like history, psychology, linguistics and education live right alongside disciplines like health science and technology, in a setting imbued with experiential learning and community engagement," Shepard told the graduates. "A center of higher education of the caliber of this university puts its graduates in a position to do well for others as well as for themselves."

Shepard's career includes his tenure as a Vanderburgh County superior court judge from 1980 to 1985 when then-Indiana Gov. Robert Orr appointed him as the 99th Indiana Supreme Court justice. He became chief justice in 1987, and during his career he wrote more than 800 majority opinions and 40 law review articles.

The seventh-generation Hoosier also received an honorary doctorate during commencement on Saturday. He has frequently lectured at ISU, and he received the ISU President's Award in 2009. Indianapolis attorney Donald Buttrey and his late wife Karen also received honorary doctoral degrees during the ceremony.


In his speech, Shepard said graduates are entering the world during a time when "people wonder whether certain things they always took for granted might not really be true after all," including questioning the value of a college education. Still, he told the audience that the connection between the nation's economic health and higher education "has never been clearer."


"But higher education is not just an economic pit stop on the journey to better employment," he said. "It is instead an experience that helps us focus on life's biggest picture."

Wendlandt, a marketing major from Fort Atkinson, Wis., was chosen as the student speaker after she was encouraged to apply for the honor by her grandfather, who died in November. In writing her speech, she realized how much passion she felt for ISU.

In her speech, she explained how family, friends and experiences helped provide the structure to ensure that the class of 2012 succeeds.

"Sinking is not an option because we are prepared," Wendlandt told the commencement crowd. "We are prepared by our education, our experiences, our mentors, our friendships and our confidence as graduates."

Photo: (ISU/Tony Campbell)Graduating senior Morgan Wendlandt addresses the class of 2012 during commencement at ISU on Saturday. In her speech, the marketing major said that the graduating class shouldn't worry about sinking or swimming in the real world, but focus on where they want to sail.

Photo: (ISU/Tony Campbell)Retired Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard speaking during commencement at Indiana State on Saturday. Shepard also received an honorary doctorate from the university.

Photo: (ISU/Tony Campbell)The Hulman Center during spring commencement on Saturday afternoon.

Media Contact and Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or