Our December Commencement Speaker: Star Leonard
After being approached by her advisor in the honors college abut an exciting opportunity, Star Leonard decided to apply to be this semester’s commencement speaker. She had only a day to prepare a speech to give to a panel that would decide which Indiana State University student would welcome those attending graduation at this semester’s ceremony.
Leonard is a senior at ISU studying biology pre-medicine. She is very excited to speak to ISU at graduation.
“It’s a really big honor,” said Leonard. “Not everybody gets to do it. I’m really excited to give my speech and talk to ISU and what all I’ve gotten to do through it for the last three and a half years. I want to recognize all ISU has been able to do for us. I think sometimes we take it for granted and we don’t fully recognize all of the opportunities we have had here.”
Dr. Bierly, Star’s honors college advisor, emailed Leonard to ask if she would be interested in being the commencement speaker for graduation.
“I said ‘Well, of course!’” said Leonard. “It turned out that by the time he had emailed me, it was about six days past the due date for the application. He got ahold of someone and I was able to go ahead and apply. I had a day to write the speech, I presented in front of the panel the next day, and they selected me.”
From day one, Leonard was confident in her choice of ISU for her undergraduate studies.
“I chose ISU because it’s not too big and not too small,” said Leonard. “It was very homey. When I came here for a tour, I didn’t feel like a number. It felt like someplace where I can actually start a foundation, someplace that I can actually get a good education, make good connections, be good at networking, make some new friends, and get to know the staff and faculty. I looked at that and it was something I really wanted to be a part of.”
Leonard’s favorite experience she’s had at ISU, is with the people of ISU.
“The people, they truly represent ISU for what it really is,” said Leonard. “It’s very diverse, it’s very humbling. There are a lot of different people I’ve gotten to know and see their experiences to understand where they came from. I’ve had some great friendships, great amazing people who would go above and beyond to do anything for you.”
Leonard said the biggest challenge she’s faced at ISU was herself.
“I constantly told myself I couldn’t,” said Leonard, “especially when I decided I wanted to be a doctor, it’s this big prestigious career. When I decided I wanted to do that, I kept telling myself ‘I can’t do that, I can’t do that,’ but as I was going through my classes, I started being at the top of my classes. I started succeeding against my peers and teaching my peers.”
On top of being a full time student, Leonard has been involved in nine organizations during her time at ISU.
“I pile my plate as high as I can,” said Leonard. “In my time here I have wanted to experience everything I possibly could. Of the nine organizations I joined, I held executive positions in six of them. I did not have time in the day to sit down and breathe for five minutes.”
Leonard plans to stay in the Terre Haute community after she graduates.
“I’m hoping to be doing some volunteer opportunities,” said Leonard, “maybe with the YMCA or 14th and Chestnut. I’m also working at Union. I’m taking a year off and then after the year; I’m going to apply to medical school. My dream school is UT Dallas, but as I started looking at the schools, I really like Marion and Indiana University.”