Indiana State University
When Star Leonard envisioned graduation day at Indiana State University, she never pictured herself behind the podium. But she plans to use her moment as the winter commencement speaker to remind her fellow graduates of all the opportunities that have come from being Sycamores.
“I’ve met incredible people here from all over the world because Indiana State is so diverse. It’s one of favorite things about it,” she said. “Indiana State has truly helped us be successful by recognizing that success is based on a spectrum and each of us has the ability to determine our own success.”
Leonard of Kansas, Ill., who is completing her bachelor’s degree in biology with a pre-medicine track and a minor in chemistry, will deliver her speech at winter commencement, set for noon Dec. 15 at Hulman Center. Retiring state Rep. Clyde Kersey, '71, GR '74, will serve as the alumni speaker.
The processional will begin at 11:45 a.m. The ceremony will be livestreamed at https://www.indstate.edu/academic-affairs/commencement/live. A broadcast of the processionals will begin approximately 15 minutes prior to the ceremony.
During her time at Indiana State, Leonard has received the full-tuition University Honors Scholarship, participated in Timmy Global Health, was a member of the Sparkettes for three years, and served as vice president of risk management for Alpha Phi Fraternity and vice president for Indiana State's chapter of the American Chemical Society. She has worked numerous jobs, too, including residential assistant in Blumberg Hall, desk attendant for Residential Life, tutor, chemistry lab instructor and notetaker.
“Indiana State was the only four-year university I applied to because it was very close to home and I felt like I wouldn’t be just a number on campus,” Leonard said. “When I came to campus for a scholarship tour, I decided that I had to live on campus because it was a place I felt I could make my home.”
Upon graduation and before starting medical school, Leonard plans to remain in Terre Haute to work at Union Hospital and volunteer in the community. She hopes to one day become a medical doctor, specializing in pediatric gastroenterology.
“I changed my major once to biology when I got to Indiana State. I picked it because I liked (the subject) in high school and everyone said I should be pre-medicine, but I didn’t think such a big prestigious dream was for me,” Leonard said. “But when I started thinking about what I would be with biology after graduation, it came down to being a professor or being a doctor. Then I went on a trip with Timmy Global Health to Ecuador in January 2017, and we provided primary health care to patients who had never seen a doctor.”
The experience allowed Leonard to work with a physician and one of her professors and see how they both interacted.
“While I liked professor aspect, I got a feel for being a physician and came back to declare a pre-medicine track,” she said.
It's a life path Leonard never expected but one she credits Indiana State with preparing her for.
“Indiana State has given me every possible resource that I could have needed to even consider my field,” she said. “Before I knew what I wanted, Indiana State gave me the classes, the opportunities to see what I wanted. After I figured out that I wanted to do pre-medicine, every faculty, staff, seminar, class, advisors, friends, peers and mentors has been provided to me to help point in the direction of my goals.”
Indiana State University
Indiana State University has been selected as one of Washington Monthly’s “2018 America’s Best Colleges For Student Voting.”
A part of “The College Guide and Rankings,” which rates colleges and universities on their contributions to social mobility, research and public service, this is a first-of-its-kind list of the schools doing the most to turn students into citizens.
“One of the most important roles of a state university is to prepare our graduates to be fully engaged citizens. Indiana State takes this responsibility very seriously,” said Nancy Rogers, vice president for University Engagement.
This fall, Indiana State has undertaken a campus-wide campaign to encourage students to register to vote either on-campus or in their home communities. For the past several weeks, university officials have been focused on encouraging voter turnout and providing students opportunities to interact with candidates and learn about their positions on important issues.
“We are thrilled to be able to host a vote center on the ISU campus and grateful to the Vigo County Clerk’s Office for their support of the center,” Rogers said. “For many students, this is their first opportunity to vote in a federal election. We believe if we can help get them to the election center this year, they will become lifelong voters. Our democracy is best served when more — rather then fewer — people vote.”
Ensuring that the nation’s young people and its future leaders are inspired to engage civically is key to strengthening democracy. On many college and university campuses, less than half of eligible student voters exercise their democratic right to cast a ballot in presidential elections.
“With voter registration, education and participation as the centerpiece to the campus get-out-the-vote efforts, Indiana State’s commitment to voter engagement encourages students to develop the civic skills that will help them become informed and engaged citizens on Election Day and in life,” said Carly Schmitt, assistant professor of political science and faculty sponsor of the American Democracy Project at Indiana State. “This designation is an indication of the significant efforts undergone by the campus community to develop student voter engagement.”
Indiana State’s inclusion on the list demonstrates the commitment the university has made to promote civic engagement among the student body, encouraging students to vote and actively participate in community decisions.
“Since voting habits tend to crystallize in young adulthood — vote in one election, and you’re far more likely to do so again — colleges and universities have an unparalleled opportunity to create voters not just for the next election, but for life,” Washington Monthly authors said in a news release. “The colleges that invest in student voting aren’t just helping their Washington Monthly rankings — they’re helping the country.”
To further do its part in improving youth civic engagement, Indiana State participates in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), which offers colleges and universities an opportunity to learn their student registration and voting rates.
Indiana State also participates in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, a national, nonpartisan awards program recognizing colleges and universities for improving civic learning, political engagement and student voting rates. As a part of this initiative, students, faculty and staff have worked together to develop and implement an action plan to improve practice and change culture.
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News Writer: Lucy Pery PHONE: 317-527-4141