By Libby Roerig
Indiana State University
Selfies, group shots and candid photographs filled friends’ and families’ cameras Saturday, May 13, as they recorded the day thousands of Sycamores had worked so hard for — commencement.
Of nearly 2,300 Indiana State University students who are eligible to graduate, 1,340 undergraduates and 376 graduates signed up to participate in either the morning or afternoon commencement exercises at the Hulman Center.
Alumna Jessica Robertson, ’05, provided the commencement address for both ceremonies.
She shared the 1899 inspirational essay “A Message to Garcia,” in which Lt. Andrew Rowan is tasked by President William McKinley to deliver a message to Calixto Garcia, the leader of the Cuban rebels during the build up to the Spanish-American War. Garcia’s location in Cuba was unknown.
“(The story) highlights what makes people successful: the ability to act promptly, concentrate your energies, accomplish your mission, be intellectually curious and practically tactile,” said Robertson, who earned a bachelor’s in finance. “Having the right attitude and taking pride in your work are two of the most important attributes that anyone can possess.”
As commissioner of the Indiana Department of Administration, Robertson is responsible for an organization of more than 200 employees that manages statewide procurement, public works, real estate, facilities management, fleet services, and minority and women’s business enterprise. Robertson is currently enrolled in the Master’s of Business Administration program at Indiana State.
“As you transition into the next phase of your life, know that you’re being cheered on by many. The world needs you to apply yourself, stiffen your vertebrae and achieve results,” said Robertson.
Communication major Baley Halberstadt of Fairbanks, Ind., spoke at the 10 a.m. ceremony for graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences, Scott College of Business and the Bayh College of Education.
“I remind you that the only thing constant in this life is change,” Halberstadt said. “You came to college. That was a change. You went to class, and you learned things that some people can only dream about. That was change. Today, you’re graduating from Indiana State University. For a first-generation college student like myself and so many others, that’s a big change, isn’t it?”
Halberstadt found a second family at State and even referred to her residence hall room as “home.”
“I dove deep into my classes with virtual strangers who became best friends, and somewhere along the way, I found a family — my Sycamore family,” Halberstadt said. “From those work breaks spent cracking jokes to late-night confessions huddled on the floor around a pizza, I am reminded of the great Elton John. He once crooned, ‘I thank the Lord for the people I have found.’ I find myself thinking that more and more as our time together draws to a close.”
Nursing major Aaron Schaidle of Peoria, Ill., spoke at the 3 p.m. ceremony for graduates of the College of Health and Human Services and College of Technology. A second-generation Sycamore, Schaidle also reflected on his extended State family and the lessons each person on campus bestowed.
“We learned that our differences, be they racial, lingual or religious, do not separate us but strengthen us. Our ability to see through the eyes of others widens our understanding of this complex world, and we all benefit from diversity of thought, as long as we keep our disagreements nuanced,” Schaidle said.
Schaidle recalled an enriched college experience, one including everyone from single moms working full-time — while earning A’s — to big-hearted fraternity men and sorority women.
“We learned that the trials of undergrad were never about one person or even one college, it was about the people we love and about building a world that's hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted,” Schaidle said. “When we build longer tables and invite our neighbors to take a seat, we prove our commitment to improving communities through the skills and experiences gained at ISU. And from these experiences, we serve the higher purpose of dignifying our fellow man.”