Anderson U. graduates challenged to change the world with courage, optimism

May 5—ANDERSON — The graduates who stepped across the stage to receive their diplomas Saturday during Anderson University's 106th commencement ceremony were challenged to take courage and optimism into a world filled with uncertainty and potential.

Cheered on by friends and family, the 245 members of the Class of 2024 made the traditional walk from Byrum Hall to the Kardatzke Center, where they were greeted with warm hugs and congratulations from faculty members.

"These are the students that started (college) during COVID, so that contrast of starting in a lockdown, basically, and yet they have persevered and they're going out to make a difference in the world," said AU President John Pistole. "It's a day of celebration."

University leaders tabbed 1996 graduate Kristian Andersen to deliver keynote remarks to the graduates. Andersen co-founded High Alpha, an Indianapolis-based venture studio that launches and scales technology companies. He has also launched several software companies.

Andersen urged the graduates to discern their purpose, cultivate courage in their lives, and choose what they suffer for wisely.

"I think that this class is graduating at a significant hinge in history," Andersen said. "I think if I was doing this 20 years ago, the advice would be different, but I think today, to succeed, to contribute to the flourishing of the world, I think it's going to be really important for these graduates to be courageous and optimistic."

Several graduates reflected on how their lives have changed dramatically since enrolling in school four years ago at the height of the pandemic.

"It feels like that has been now so long ago, but then it feels like just yesterday I was moving in to college," said Ted Lamson, who received a degree in social studies education and will be teaching geography at a high school near Indianapolis this fall.

"It's kind of bittersweet because I feel like I've been here so long, but then I feel like it just flew by at the same time. Those emotions are kind of hard to grasp right now."

The emotions were mixed as well for Heather Karm, a soon-to-be graduate student who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in exercise science. Karm will begin pursuing a master's degree at Southeastern University in Florida this year.

"It's definitely sad, but also happy at the same time," the Lowell, Indiana, native said. "My time here, I've learned to be myself and not be afraid to be myself. I've also grown a ton in my faith, so leaning on Jesus, that is my No. 1 rule for myself, and just always have fun with everything you do."

In his remarks, Andersen also challenged the graduates to "say yes to adventure," reasoning that even if their decisions don't yield the results they hope for, there will still be lessons for them to learn.

"Life is full of suffering," he said, "and I think the earlier on in life you can recognize that suffering is a tool for transformation — it's how we grow, it's how we learn — I hope they find that message encouraging."

Follow Andy Knight on Twitter @Andrew_J_Knight, or call 765-640-4809.