IUPUI Commencement

Honoring the Class of 2018

May 12, 2018
Lucas Oil Stadium
Indianapolis, Indiana


President McRobbie, university trustees, parents, friends, colleagues: I am pleased to present the Class of 2018. That has a nice ring to it. How about this: every time I say Class of 2018, I want to hear you roar as loudly as you can. Let’s try it, Class of 2018.

Opening a passageway to history

In honor of today’s commencement speaker, A’Lelia Bundles, I want to take you all back in time. Decades ago, Ms. Bundles visited her grandfather on his 90th birthday.

She asked him about a trunk filled with family heirlooms she remembered from a childhood visit to his apartment in Indianapolis.

Together they found the trunk ... locked.

The key ... lost.

They called a locksmith who came and opened a passageway into history.

Every item in that trunk was also a story: A grandmother’s wedding dress brought back memories of Harlem; a peach nightgown conjured stories of travel to exotic destinations; old photographs, silverware, and linen all held traces of the past.

And Ms. Bundles stayed up all night absorbing her grandfather’s stories. As dawn broke the next morning, she had become the keeper of her family history.

The power of Madam Walker’s legacy

Only one person in this magnificent stadium saw what was in that trunk, but every one of us here can feel the power of that moment, the power of family, and the power of legacy.

That trunk held the traces of generations, dating all the way back to A’Lelia Bundles’ great-great grandmother Madam Walker, whose powerful legacy we are celebrating this afternoon.

Madam Walker’s legacy includes a belief in self-improvement. She transformed herself from orphan to washerwoman to successful entrepreneur and philanthropist.

That legacy includes a belief in service to the community. Among many causes, Madam Walker supported the YMCA, Flanner House, and the Alpha Home elder care facility here in Indianapolis.

That legacy includes a belief in the power of education. Madam Walker pursued her own education in night school. She started beauty schools that educated other black women and gave them a way to support themselves.  She funded scholarships at schools across the country.

In all of this and so much more, Madam C.J. Walker believed that education changed lives for the better.

The legacies of IUPUI’s Class of 2018

Graduates, let me ask what legacies you will leave behind?

What stories will you pass from generation to generation?

When your great-great granddaughter opens your trunk a hundred years from now, what do you want her to find?

I can say with confidence that each one of you is already creating your legacy, writing your story, and filling your trunk, Class of 2018.

Chancellor Paydar speaking at a podium during May 2018 IUPUI Commencement

One of the most powerful legacies you leave behind is your belief — like Madam C.J. Walker’s — that education can change lives for the better.

Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar

Jagathon: Creating of legacy of care

Let me hear how many of you have volunteered, have served your communities, have danced for the kids in Jagathon?

I know there were more than the two people I just heard. Let me hear you roar!

For the third time in three years, our Jagathoners have set a new fundraising record. This year, They have raised more than a half-million dollars to support pediatric research at Riley Children’s Hospital.

Our Jagathoners are just part of our Jaguar culture of service and giving in the Class of 2018. We tutor children, train teachers, partner with the United Way, place social workers in neighborhoods, prepare next generation health professionals, and public policy advocates. All of you have helped to make IUPUI a world-class and award-winning engaged campus, so thank you, Class of 2018.

Rising to the challenge of research

Let me hear how many of you conducted research during your time at IUPUI?

Well, I know it’s more than that. Try again!

Our graduates are brain surgeons, engineers, biologists, psychologists, and more.

They have conducted research on digital imaging, social justice, international law, student affairs and much more. They are designing self-driving vehicles, human prosthetics, and computer interfaces.

Thank you for all that you are doing to discover the future, Class of 2018.

Creating a global legacy

Let me hear how many of you have studied a second language or were born somewhere outside of the US. Hundreds of our graduates have studied around the world during their time at IUPUI.

Our international students who are graduating this year come from 103 different countries.

With your international experiences, you have literally taken your education around the world, embracing differences, learning about other cultures, and serving as ambassadors for your own. You are preparing yourselves—and the world—for the global future.

This is the powerful legacy of international education that you are helping to create, Today’s modern family: A legacy of educationClass of 2018.

Today’s modern family: A legacy of education

Let me hear how many mothers are graduating today? Please stand for our recognition and celebration.

Every single day, you serve as a role model for your friends, family, and children. You care for them, you teach them, you protect them. You learn from them, advocate for them, and believe in them. You want what’s best for them. And you are here today graduating in the Class of 2018.

One of the most powerful lessons that all of our graduates teach generations to come and one of the most powerful legacies you leave behind is your belief — like Madam C.J. Walker’s — that education can change lives for the better.