Drawing on experiences, Crouch tells grads they can make a difference
Sharing from her life experiences, Indiana Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch encouraged members of the Trine University Class of 2019 to embrace the unknown, have grit, and let go and let God during the university’s 134th Commencement ceremonies on May 4.
Speaking in front of more than 5,700 people, including 531 graduates who crossed the stage in the Keith E. Busse/Steel Dynamics Inc. Athletic and Recreation Center to receive their degrees, Crouch opened by telling the soon-to-be-alumni she would never have believed it if anyone had told her when she graduated college that she would someday give a Commencement address.
“If you would have told me that I would get involved in politics and end up being the lieutenant governor of the great state of Indiana, I would have laughed,” she said.
Such changes in life, she said, are why we all need to be prepared to step into the unknown.
“By taking that first step, we often find life’s purpose and splendor,” she said. “For those of you feeling anxious today: don’t. Embrace every new chapter of your life, particularly the ones that haven’t been scripted yet.”
Crouch also encouraged graduates to be tough, citing her experiences after a growth spurt at age 12 left her taller than the other children at her school, and most of her teachers.
“As kids do, they would call me the ‘Jolly Green Giant,’ ” she recalled. “It was funny to them, but for a young girl struggling to fit in, it was a painful time in my life.”
Her father told her that those who were teasing her were only revealing their own insecurity, and to turn it into a joke she was in on — even responding with a “Ho, ho, ho!”
“My father taught me to accept and respect myself,” she said. “And when I could accept and respect myself in spite of all my imperfections, then I could accept and respect the differences in other people. I soon came to realize that it’s those differences that make each of us so unique, and adds to the beauty of the world.”
She also told graduates that we cannot control everything in life, citing a loss in her first run for political office as an example.
“I had so much confidence in the direction I wanted to take my life that it never dawned on me that I might not win,” she said. “It wasn’t until several years later, on a white-water rafting trip, that I had a moment of realization. I realized that I was not the end-all, be-all of the universe. And I am not the one in control of my life.”
Seeing the vastness of space while camping in the Grand Canyon, she said she realized that she was just a small part of the grand design of the universe, and found that liberating.
“I suddenly understood that I didn’t not have to be in control of my life,” she said. “I simply had to live it with meaning and purpose.”
“Like me, it might take you a little while to find your path and your passion in life,” she told the graduates, “but that’s okay as long as you’re always moving forward and never looking back. And I know that Trine University has prepared you for the challenges and the successes ahead.”
In closing, she said, “I am so excited about the countless opportunities you’re going to have to make a difference in our world. And I’m so honored to be here to share in that next chapter of your life.”
Following the address, the university presented Crouch the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in recognition of her public service to the state of Indiana.
Giving the Class of 2019 response after students were awarded their degrees, Shannon Scott, Robert B. Stewart Award winner, also encouraged her classmates to embrace the unknown, mentioning her own emotions at being asked to speak: a mixture of pride in being asked and fear of speaking in front of thousands of people.
“But if there’s one thing this amazing university has taught me, it’s that you have to get outside of your comfort zone,” she said. “Doing the uncomfortable or the unexplored is what helps us learn and pushes us to grow as individuals and be successful in our futures.”
Citing a personal credo she developed for a leadership class, Scott encouraged the Class of 2019 to have passion, patience and gratitude.
“Today we give back to the world what Trine has created within us, she said. “We owe it not only to ourselves, our families and our friends, but to the future we have prepared so hard for.”
In closing, Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine University president, reminded graduates that graduation is not the end, but the beginning, “a catalyst for the inception of what you will become.”
“As you leave the campus today, you leave it as a different individual,” he said. “You’ve achieved one set of goals and now it’s time to reach for a new set.”
Top Photo: Suzanne Crouch, lieutenant governor of the state of Indiana, receives a hood for the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine University president, left, and John Shannon, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs, during Commencement on May 4.
More photos from Commencement are available on SmugMug.