Indiana State University Newsroom

Graduates urged to use talents to help others, make most of each day

December 15, 2014

The path that will lead hundreds of Sycamores into the future may have seemed foggy as they went from being "students" to "alumni" of Indiana State University at Saturday's winter commencement.

But Joy McCall of Richton Park, Ill., who delivered the 2014 winter commencement student address at the ceremony, urged her fellow graduates to trust that what they've learned during their time at Indiana State will help make the path much clearer. 

"Here at ISU, you made the personal choice to challenge yourself and reach significant goals," she said. "I am sure that all of us at some point in time, have experienced feelings of doubt or inadequacy, but let me reassure you that those attitudes cannot stand very long in the light of greatness. I encourage you all to step outside of yourselves, and use your individual gifts, along with the skills that you have obtained here at ISU to inspire others to strive toward the goal of 'self-actualization,' to fulfill your full potential and help others become all that they can be."

More than 800 graduates who completed requirements for bachelor's, master's, educational specialist and doctoral degrees this summer and fall and were eligible to participate in the ceremony now have the chance to influence changes in the world.

But, McCall warned, it will require "stepping outside of the familiar to push the change we want to see."

"The recipe for lasting change does not exist within our comfort zones so we must practice the act of altruism," said McCall, a nursing major. "We must be selfless and show concern for others."

Luckily, she said, the around 700 graduates who participated in the ceremony at Hulman Center have plenty of examples, like American greats Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey and John F. Kennedy, to show them how to make positive changes for future generations.

"Even if their efforts were not going to personally benefit them, they still pushed to advocate for future generations," McCall said. "We are the beneficiaries of their work, so let's strive just as they did, for a higher goal, and do the same for those who will come after us."

They also have fellow Sycamores who can show them the way, like the commencement's alumni speaker Todd Osburn.

A Terre Haute native, Osburn graduated with an accounting degree in 1985. He lives in Chicago and is founding partner of Greyrock Capital Group. Osburn's success since graduation, he said, is due to a combination of effort, attitude and kindness.

"My first job after graduation was at Roadmaster Corporation, located in Olney, Ill. It was a terrific experience for me for a number of reasons, one of which was that the owners believed strongly in developing their employees through continuing education and brought in guest lecturers and numerous individuals to teach seminars on a wide range of subjects," Osburn said, adding. He noted that the first seminar he attended was a Dale Carnegie seminar, author of several books in the early 1930s and 40s on leadership and traits of highly successful people.

"I'll be honest, I don't really remember any specifics about the seminar other than at the time I thought the whole thing was kind of nonsense and as such I didn't pay as close of attention as I probably should have," Osburn said. "But as the years have passed I've learned to appreciate the instructor who was a pretty sharp guy. You see, at the end of the seminar he passed out a dollar bill to each of us and had us write in bold letters the word ‘terrific' across the dollar. His objective was that it would serve as a daily reminder to have a positive attitude, to have a ‘terrific day'."

In the spirit of his instructor, Osburn tucked a dollar bill inside each graduate's diploma cover and on each bill wrote the words "effort," "attitude," and "kindness".

"My hope is, first, that you resist applying it towards a beer at the Bally or the Copper Bar after the commencement is over and, second, that you find a way to hang on to it and maybe make it part of your daily routine as well," he said. "I somehow managed to not spend mine and 28 years and at least a half dozen moves later, including three cities, I still have it. It sits on my dresser at home, as it has for the past 20-plus years, where I see it each morning. It's a part of my daily routine and for me it's a trigger that sets the tone for each day. It's my reminder to have a terrific day and to make the most of it."

Media contact: Betsy Simon, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or