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
Such changes in life, she said, are why we all need to be prepared to step into the
“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
“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,
“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
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
“I suddenly understood that I didn’t 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
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.