Indiana State University Newsroom

More than 2,200 graduate from Indiana State

May 11, 2019

Mother's Day weekend was a little more special for most of the families of 2,200-plus Sycamores who graduated Saturday from Indiana State University.

Of the 2,213 students who were eligible, 1,060 undergraduate and 361 graduate students signed up to participate in either the morning or afternoon commencement exercises at Hulman Center.

Actor, comedian, writer and producer Mike Hatton, '02, provided the alumni speech at both ceremonies. Hatton is best known for his breakthrough performance as George Dyer in the Best Picture-winning film "Green Book," which also featured actors Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen.

"Being on stage today is incredible. It's almost as crazy as being on the stage of the Academy Awards -- almost as crazy," Hatton said with a laugh.

A native of Hobart, Ind., Hatton described his path to Indiana State and how it led him to a career in the entertainment industry. The radio/TV/film major recalled how he juggled attending classes at Indiana State and working almost full-time at WTHI to put himself through school.

"My work colleagues, my instructors, my friends kept me on a path," he said.

He gratefully acknowledged many of his supporters along the way who were on hand Saturday to listen to his commencement speech. "Some people think that people who go after their dreams are fearless. I wasn't fearless. I was afraid," he said. "I thought about quitting many times, but the people I surrounded myself with, those people pushed me forward. I surrounded myself with people who love me, and I suggest you do the same. If you (do), you will never fail."

In her congratulations to the Class of 2019, ISU President Deborah Curtis acknowledged the impact these newly minted alumni have made and will continue to make on the community and the state.

"Our graduates are the backbone of the state of Indiana. Seventy-five percent of our students come from Indiana, and 70 percent of our graduates stay in Indiana, begin their careers, raise their families and contribute to the economy," Curtis said. "Our graduates keep Indiana running, thriving and competing on a global stage."

Communication major Ra'Leshia Davis of Indianapolis was the speaker at the 10 a.m. ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences, Bayh College of Education and Scott College of Business.

Davis compared her college experience to starring in a movie. The plot of her motion picture started out smoothly: She became involved on campus through Hall Council, Residential Life and Student Media, had lots of friends and her grades were good.

"But what movie doesn't have conflict or a turning point?" she asked. For Davis, it was senior year when she failed her first class.

"This portion of my movie is what I like to call bloopers. They're failures that did not fail; they are failures that helped me grow," she said. "And that is why I fell in love with Indiana State. It provided us with lifelong lessons -- along with a valuable degree."

As the credits are rolling on their college careers, Davis encouraged her peers to look to the future. "Do not stop here. I challenge you to begin the sequel for your next movie," she said.

Construction management major Logan Pollard of Rosedale, Ind., was the student speaker at the 3 p.m. ceremony for College of Health and Human Services and College of Technology.

"This university gave me an appreciation for my small town community and then challenged me to expand my viewpoint to learn from others with different backgrounds and perspectives," Pollard said. "I gained a deep admiration for people who were different from me -- people who came from big cities and from countries all over the world, people who were born with financial wellness, and others who saved every penny they had to attend college. From the people who were the superstars of their high school to the ones who were wallflowers, State was a fresh start for everyone -- a chance to reinvent ourselves, a chance to experiment and grow."

Pollard credited Indiana State for opportunities to explore new countries, make life-long friends and earn his dream job in construction.

"As we move forward from this day, we should know that our experiences at State prepared us to take on whatever may come," Pollard said. "Congratulations, Class of 2019! It's time to embrace the new adventure that lies ahead."


Photos: -- Two-time Sycamore Jade Rakes of Terre Haute gestures toward the crowd after receiving her Master of Fine Arts Saturday at Hulman Center. -- Alumni commencement speaker Mike Hatton, '02, addresses the Class of 2019 Saturday at Hulman Center. -- Student commencement speaker Ra'Leshia Davis of Indianapolis addresses graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences, Bayh College of Education and Scott College of Business Saturday. -- Student commencement speaker Logan Pollard of Rosedale, Ind., addresses graduates from the College of Health and Human Services and College of Technology Saturday. -- Graduates pose for photographs by the fountain on the Indiana State University campus Saturday. -- Graduates pose for photographs by the fountain on the Indiana State University campus Saturday.

Media contact: Libby Roerig, University Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or