Indiana State University Newsroom

Alumni, student speakers named for spring commencement

April 7, 2015

Indiana State University has announced the lineup of speakers for its 2015 spring commencement, set for May 9 at Hulman Center.

Christine Hill, an Eli Lilly and Co. executive and a 1994 Indiana State graduate, will deliver the alumni address. Daniel Burkett of Terre Haute, who is completing a bachelor's degree in chemistry, and Jonathan Wachala of Munster, who is graduating with a bachelor's degree in marketing, have been selected as student speakers.

Hill serves as global customer experience strategy and measurement leader for Eli Lilly and Co. Since joining the pharmaceutical giant in 1994, Hill has been passionate about customer and employee relationships. She focused these efforts in positions within market research, sales, training and development, and marketing and sales leadership across the portfolio with extensive reorganization and cross functional integration experiences.

In Lilly USA, she was a senior director of marketing where she led marketing operations and marketing channel initiatives across health care professionals and consumers supporting all brands. Her global roles included responsibilities for evolving the organizational capability for customer engagement. Her current efforts are focused on establishing and bringing to life the companywide customer experience strategy and measurement approach.

She is a founding member of the Google Health Partner Council, Digital Health Coalition and serves on several boards.

Prior to joining Lilly, she worked as a project leader for Research Systems Corp. in Evansville. She graduated magna cum laude from Indiana State with a bachelor's degree in marketing. She was named the ISU NCAA Student-Athlete of the Year. A 2003 recipient of the Indiana State University Alumni Association's Graduate of the Last Decade Award, she is a board member of the ISU Foundation. Hill and her husband, Jason, live in Carmel, with their daughter, Eliana, and son, Josiah, where they are active members of Grace Church.

A fourth-generation Indiana State graduate, Burkett said he applied to serve as a commencement speaker "because I wanted to sum up the gratitude I have for the weather of opportunities presented to me through ISU in a public forum. This university has had a profound impact on my family."

In his remarks, Burkett said he plans "to share the opportunities that we, as a graduating class, have been offered as Sycamores. This graduating class has a diverse array of talents, and I hope to sum up the opportunities and accomplishments we've had as Indiana State students."

This spring, for the first time, Indiana State will conduct two commencement ceremonies. Burkett will speak at the 10 a.m. ceremony for graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Bayh College of Education.

Burkett, a recipient of the President's Scholarship, Indiana State's most prestigious merit-based award, has also received the William H. Bell Award and the Donald and Mary Jo Stanley Scholarship from the chemistry department and the White Star Scholarship from Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

He has served as a teaching assistant and research assistant in the chemistry department and, in 2014, he served a summer research internship with The Lubrizol Corporation, working with research chemists to prepare new compounds in the laboratory and develop structure-performance relationships and models. He has also served as a research analyst for the Office of Information Technology at Indiana State.

He is a cheerleader for the Sycamores; a member of Golden Key International Honor Society, which he served as president in 2013; is treasurer of the American Chemical Society - Student Affiliates; and served as a Student Government Association senator in 2012.

Burkett is the son of John and Nancy Burkett and a graduate of Terre Haute North Vigo High School.

Wachala is also a President's Scholar. In addition, he has received the Campus Connector Award, American Marketing Association Award and Excellence in Spanish Award. A Spanish minor, Wachala, who calls himself a "global adventure seeker," studied abroad in Valencia, Spain in 2010 and Barcelona in 2014.

Also during his time as an Indiana State student, he served as a summer conference housing operations manager at Yale University in 2013, as account management intern with Kargo in Chicago and as a digital project manager with the Indiana State University Foundation.

"It's such a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share your message with an incredibly diverse group of people," Wachala said of being selected as a student commencement speaker. "My speech emphasizes the importance of education, in both academic and real-world contexts."

A graduate of Munster High School, Wachala is the son of Michael and Carol Wachala.

Wachala's address is scheduled for the 2 p.m. ceremony for graduates of the Scott College of Business; College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services; and College of Technology.

Students completing post-graduate degrees will be recognized during the ceremony for their program's affiliated college. Tickets will not be required for this year's spring commencement. For those unable to attend, both ceremonies will be streamed live on the Indiana State University website,

Photo: - Christine Hill

Photo: - Daniel Burkett

Photo: - Jonathan Wachala

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