Indiana State University Newsroom

Commencement speakers tell ISU graduates to stay resilient, seize opportunities

February 12, 2021

Commencement speakers urged graduates to use their Indiana State University education to seize opportunities as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

Virtual Winter Commencement for the 646 graduates went live online Saturday with prerecorded speeches and tributes to graduates on their individual webpages. ISU President Deborah J. Curtis, Provost Mike Licari and the deans of the colleges addressed graduates as well guest speakers and a student speaker.

Former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick, who has two degrees from ISU, spoke to students receiving advanced degrees. She told graduates to take time to show gratitude and reflect on their accomplishments.

“You have a call to greatness,” McCormick said. “You owe it to yourself and to those who have sacrificed with you to answer this call.”

Amadou Yattassaye, Plan President of the Missouri Commercial & Specialty Business Division for Anthem, Inc., talked about meeting his wife of 20 years at ISU.  Yattassaye, who has a degree in business administration, said his ISU education prepared him well for his career.

“Please remember that opportunity is out there,” Yattassaye said.  “As an ISU graduate, you possess the skills, knowledge, and attitude to grasp as much of the opportunity as you like.”

ISU conferred 22 doctoral or education specialist degrees, 141 master’s degrees, and 483 bachelor’s degrees.

Student speaker Madison Brooke Page from Fort Wayne, Indiana, who earned a degree in Textiles, Apparel and Merchandising, has studied in Paris and London and last year represented the Fashion Merchandising Association at the National Retail Federation conference in New York.

Page noted that this class had unique disruptions to overcome.

“Over the course of the past year alone, we have faced many difficult choices,” she said. “Each of us had to decide whether or not to continue with online classes or to come back and attend classes in person. Each of us faced difficult decisions of continuing to fight to the finish line or simply throwing in the towel.

“During a time of uncertainty and information overload, my friends and family here at Indiana State University made the time a little easier. My Sycamore brothers and sisters create a sense of community here that is truly unmatched.

“Class of 2020, let’s continue to be persistent, hardworking, and always willing to learn. There is a brave new beginning ahead for each of us and if anyone can make the best of it, I know for sure, that we can.”

ISU’s Spring 2020 graduating class also had a virtual commencement because of the pandemic. All 2020 graduates are invited to participate in May 2021 commencement.

Photo of Jennifer McCormick

Photo of Amadou Yattassaye

Photo of Madison Brooke Page

Media contacts:

Mark Alesia, Director of University Communication

(O) 812-237-3837

(C) 812-229-8020

Dianne Powell, Associate Director of University Communication

(O) 812-237-8764

(C) 812-878-2131