Gov. Holcomb's Graduation Speech

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ISI Staff

This year at the ISI Class of 2019 graduation, we were pleased to welcome Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb as our commencement speaker. Sharing in the value and pursuit of a more globally minded Indiana, Gov. Holcomb provided some inspiring words to our graduates. We are delighted to share the uplifting words the governor shared with the ISI community. 


You know, before I get started, it occurred to me while we were listening to Olivia, Olivia and Kiana perform their beautiful version of Time After Time...

I was in high school when that song came out. I remember watching Cyndi Lauper sing that on MTV, back when MTV actually played music. 

And now it’s an oldie. So, thanks for the reality check! 

Ms. Head, Mr. Weaver, Mr. Veale, faculty, staff, distinguished members of the ISI board of directors, and all members of the extended International School of Indiana family gathered here to celebrate this prestigious school’s 2019 graduating class.

It’s a profound honor for me to be here on this day and play a role in your celebration; a real source of pride for many of us—your parents, family, friends. Today will be one I shall never forget.

First and foremost, graduates: CONGRATULATIONS!

Also, take a breath. Your IB exams are done, so rejoice. Those days are behind you.

It’s so fitting that we celebrate this class just a week after we celebrated the life and legacy of Senator and former Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar.

Because Senator Lugar was thinking about today and the previous 15 like it during his entire life of service – what you all would be contributing.

In fact, in many ways, Senator Lugar was thinking about all of you before you were even born!

This school, while founded after his term as mayor, was part of his belief that Indianapolis could be, and in fact, now is an international city.

The International School is part of what then-Mayor Lugar saw as a three-legged stool.

This school, together with the International Center and the Indianapolis International Airport, were needed to make Indianapolis globally competitive and globally attractive.

The International Airport provides global connectivity. The International Center is a catalyst to convene global objectives in Indiana.

And the International School? Well, all it does is provide world-class education, attracts talent, gives business leaders the confidence to locate here, and teaches full-language immersion in an increasingly smaller world.

Not bad for a day’s work, ISI…

What started as a belief, a vision is now a proud reality and all of you have written chapters in Indiana’s story that are being read all over the globe.

That’s an enormous return on investment for the community, for your families, and for all of the teachers and staff members and on and on that have invested their time, talent and treasure in YOU.

And, there’s one more thing I’ll add to the list of what the International School produces.

It produces, year after year after year, Indiana’s diplomatic corps.

That’s right. Starting tonight, I consider you all Indiana ambassadors! Feel free to put that on your resumes!

By the way, this doesn’t confer diplomatic immunity. You’ll still have to pay your parking tickets.

But who better to send into the world as examples of what’s possible in Indiana than you?

I know your paths to get to this point were different. Some of you have lived in Indiana all your lives… some have been here for only a few years.

With 53 nationalities represented at the school, that only makes sense.

But however you got here or however long you’ve been here, you’re all Hoosiers now and forever!

Now, in doing my homework—yes governors have homework—for tonight, I learned that we have a couple of students graduating tonight that came to us from the Sudan.

Mawich Kachjaani and Akuei Akuei.Their lives have been changed, and quite literally saved, by the International School – the entire team here.  

And I’ve also learned that Mawich accepted a full-ride to play basketball at Alaska Fairbanks, becoming that school’s first athlete ever offered a full ride scholarship!  

At 6’9”, I think I’ve found where Mawich is…

Ok, Mawich, if you thought the Sudan to Indiana was a bit of temperature shock…

Alaska? Let me just give you this piece of advice...you’re gonna need a bigger coat!

But seriously, we’re proud of you. Proud of Akuei, proud of Margot and Ben and this entire class.

Each one of you represents a unique story and set of experiences, experiences that brought all of you together as the class of 2019.

Commencements are one of those few moments in our lives where who we were before and who we are after is fundamentally different.

Birth, marriage, when your kids are born, these are some of life’s traditional lines of demarcation. After these events, you’re in a distinctively new phase of your life.

Yesterday you were students. Today you’re honorees, having achieved something truly worth celebrating. Tomorrow? 

Well, that’s up to you, because you’ll be off and running in your own lives on many different paths, scattering from here, a place that has served you all so well.

And, I must commend your sense of timing. Although for most of you, I think your parents had more to do with that, but regardless where the credit is due the truth is:

Despite all the noise, you may hear on television, the simple fact is there’s never been a more exciting & empowering time to be alive than right now!

World-changing innovations are continuously happening. In fact, they’re happening because of younger and younger inventors.

New discoveries redefine our world on a daily basis.

We have more computing power in our pockets than what NASA had when they sent Purdue’s own Neil Armstrong to the moon.

In fact, I just read somewhere that there are more smartphones in the world than toothbrushes. I’m not saying that’s a good thing.

What was once thought impossible is now commonplace, and this is making our world smaller and smaller.

I’ll give you a quick example:

I was in India about a year and a half ago visiting a Cummins advanced manufacturing facility.

The engineers in that facility were working, in real time, with Hoosiers in Columbus, Indiana.

They were collaborating, sharing ideas, conducting experiments on the same prototypes at the exact same time, despite the fact they in two different rooms about 8,000 miles apart.

So, don’t take your global understanding and your global compassion for granted. Continue to develop it. Put it to good use.

Those opportunities weren’t possible when I was your age… the first time I heard Time After Time.

And if you don’t have the skills to collaborate with folks across the globe, you run the risk of being left behind.

Which is another reason why the International School has prepared you well; the international baccalaureate curriculum you’ve learned here opens up a borderless world of opportunity for you.

It’s all right there in your learner profile: this is a class full of leaders who are inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective.

I can tell you that finding that collection of attributes in one person can be rare. And, although you’ve been surrounded by it for the last several years, that profile is something you must work to maintain in yourselves for the rest of your lives. 

I’ve had the opportunity to travel extensively in my life.  

From serving overseas in the United States Navy to praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem next to someone who was praying to someone different than I was. It was a beautiful thing.

I’ve sat in Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s chair, marveled at the Taj Mahal, walked the D-Day beaches in Normandy and took a selfie at the top of the Eiffel Tower because that’s what you do!

And each time I’m in a foreign land, I’m reminded of something another Hoosier, Kurt Vonnegut, said years ago,

“I don’t know what it is about Hoosiers, but wherever you go there is always a Hoosier doing something very important there.”

When I think about the 39 graduates that we’re about to send off in the world… I know Kurt’s saying will continue to ring true.

Wherever our 39 new ambassadors go, you’ll be doing something very important there.

Important for yourself, for our city, for our state, and for our global shared society.

Because that’s who you are and that’s who this school has helped you become.

T.S. Elliot said, “the journey, not the arrival, is what matters.”

So onward & upward. Journey on Hoosiers and be a force for good and do important things!

Thank you and congratulations!

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