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Commencement filled with firsts, hope and accomplishment

By: ISU Communications and Marketing Staff, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
December 13, 2008

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Saturday's winter commencement at Indiana State University was filled with exciting firsts, student accomplishments and messages of hope.

Taking the stage at his first commencement as Indiana State's president, Daniel Bradley congratulated the students and urged them to make a difference.

"I look forward to seeing you apply what knowledge you've learned at ISU to advance your career, serve your communities and literally change the world."

In addition to urging them to stay connected with the university, Bradley also issued a challenge.

"I challenge you to continue learning throughout your life. This world continues to evolve rapidly and one must be willing to adapt to these changes to continue success," he said.

In addition to having a student commencement speaker, Indiana State began a new tradition of having an alumnus address the graduating class.

Commencement speaker Carolene Mays, a 1985 alumna currently serving as publisher and president of the nation's fourth oldest African-American newspaper, the "Indianapolis Recorder," and "Indiana Minority Business Magazine," took the opportunity to motivate and inspire graduates to take control of their lives during uncertain times.

"You're walking into a world like I've never seen in my lifetime," she said, adding that despite financial crisis, layoffs and businesses closing their doors graduates can be successful.

"But you need to dig deeper and hit harder," Mays said.

Mays, who earned her degree in management, told the graduates to be realistic in their expectations and to be flexible. That is especially true if the ideal company or job isn't available.

"Don't get discouraged. Do what you can to get your foot in the door," she said, adding her publishing company's vice-president and editor began in an entry level job she didn't really want, but she used that opening to work her way up into a corporate leadership position.

Basic keys to success in any endeavor include a good foundation, and education is the best start.

"Education and knowledge give you the means of control," she said. "People guided you on your path to get a degree, but it all boils down to you - You invested in yourself."

Other factors include a passion for excellence, strong work ethic and networking.

Newcomers to the workplace and the community can expand their horizons by attending meetings, participating in activities and seeking out a mentor.

"Later you can return the favor, by mentoring others," she added.

Along with publishing the Indianapolis Recorder and the Indiana Minority Business Magazine, Mays serves on numerous boards and been involved in her community.

"My involvement in the community didn't come about because of networking, but a willingness to serve," she added.

While she admitted she wasn't a "sports guru," her willingness to serve has landed her spots on the Indiana Sports Corporation Board and the PeyBack Foundation Board, and positions with other high-profile events, such as the co-chair of Indianapolis' 2012 Super Bowl committee.

She served as co-chair of the NCAA 2005 Women's Basketball Final Four and a member of the 2000 NCAA Final Four Committee.

"Get involved in your community," Mays encouraged. "You never know who you will meet and what doors might be opened."

Mays' final word of advice was simple - refuse to quit.

"The greatest lessons you will ever learn are from the school of hard knocks," she said, adding mistakes will be made but learning from them and the "raw power of sheer determination" can overcome any obstacle.

"Keep your faith, keep your head up and dig in," Mays concluded. "The one factor that will get you through is you."

For one graduate at Saturday's ceremonies, just being there was an accomplishment.

Matt Lindley, recipient of the President's Medal, was in a car accident earlier in the week on his way to do his student teaching at Rockville High School. He sustained injuries which required him to be transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for treatment. After undergoing surgery, he was released from the hospital on Thursday and was determined to participate in ceremonies.

"I just had to be there," he said. "I didn't want to miss it."

Confined to a wheelchair, Lindley accepted the President's Medal with assistance from College of Arts and Sciences Dean Tom Sauer. Dean of Students Carmen Tillery wheeled him across the stage to accept his degree.

Lindley's determination impressed Provost C. Jack Maynard.

"That is a testament of the caliber of student he is," Maynard commented.

Student commencement speaker Jeffrey Brown, an English major from Indianapolis, said he has grown to love Indiana State and is grateful for the foundation it has provided him.

"Indiana State has been a university that has taught me lifelong lessons that I will need to endure for what's to come in my future," he said.

Brown, an associate minister at Faith Tabernacle Praise and Word Center in Indianapolis, also urged students to keep the faith.

"When we leave this place, our future will not always be successful and all smiles, you will endure some trials and troubles," he said. "You can make it, because of the profound foundation that Indiana State has put within you. So keep your head up, and continue to rise, even if times get hard, continue to stand and know that you are somebody, and know you have purpose because of the foundation that Indiana State has but within you."

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Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or pmeyer4@isugw.indstate.edu

Story Highlights

Saturday's winter commencement at Indiana State University was filled with exciting firsts, student accomplishments and messages of hope.

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