“I’m a big smiler. I just can’t help it. Maybe I’ll be frustrated or upset, but no matter what’s going on, I’ll just smile.”

Emmanuel Sheard has a lot to smile about. He’s in the planning stages of starting his business, earning his Entrepreneurship certificate, and sharing a message to the Class of 2024 as Ivy Tech Fort Wayne and Warsaw’s Student Commencement Speaker.

“It’s exciting,” Emmanuel says in anticipation of graduation. “I feel like I jumped a hurdle I didn’t know I could.”

Baby steps

For Emmanuel, it’s been a climb to get to Ivy Tech’s graduation day—one that’s been guided by his faith. While met with highs and lows, each dip has been a baby step towards a greater future.

“From student leadership to every single thing, it’s been baby steps. Watching God’s plans for me has been the greatest adventure of my life yet.”

The 27-year-old has credentials as a CNA, a QMA, as well as a degree in audio engineering, but he started taking classes to earn his Commercial Driver’s License at Ivy Tech Fort Wayne. Due to personal losses, he ultimately decided a career in the medical industry wasn’t for him, and audio engineering didn’t offer many opportunities in the area. So, he thought a career in CDL was an easy way to make money.

Except, it wasn’t that straightforward. While he passed the classes, Emmanuel was unable to earn a CDL because of the medications he was taking at the time. This setback was a blessing in disguise.

“If I would have gotten my CDL, I would’ve given up on my plans to start a business.”

While in the CDL program, a new passion sparked for business and supply chain management. So, he changed directions and decided to pursue an associate degree.

“When I went into the CDL Plus program, I started learning about how big supply chain management is. I learned about warehouses, supply chain inventory like all these different aspects of it, and I fell in love with it.”

After adding a degree, he was unsure about pursuing a certificate in Entrepreneurship. However, he got on a phone call with the programs instructor Morgan Williams, who helped him realize he could turn his dream of owning a business into a reality.

The goal: Owning his own 3pl Logistics Company.

What makes this different from other companies is that one of the main focuses is to give internships to high school students and early college students, so they can learn about supply chain management before they go to college or before they graduate college. It’s a chance for them to earn college credits and get real-world experience in the field.

“The name is 1nug = Anug abbreviated for One Nation Under God Equals All Nations Under God’. I feel like we have so much division in the world right now. We’re all people, you know. We’re all one nation.”

No matter what your beliefs are or where you come from, Emmanuel wants to create a space where everyone feels accepted, valued, and supported. His idea is that the shipping connects us all, and he wants more people to recognize that.

“The internships would be part of a nonprofit. It would allow students to learn all aspects of supply chain from accounting to being in the warehouse.”

His classes and participation in student organizations have given him the connections he needs to get his business going. He says he’s grateful that God put this network in his life.

“Ivy Tech helps you build confidence. From career development to student clubs, they help you put yourself out there.”

From student leadership to every single thing, it’s been baby steps. Watching God’s plans for me has been the greatest adventure of my life yet.

– Emmanuel Sheard | 2024 Student Speaker

A fresh start

Emmanuel started at Ivy Tech while searching for a fresh start. The Missouri native came to Fort Wayne to live with his sister, wanting to create new experiences away from the small town he grew up in.

In the span of six years, Emmanuel lost his older brother and his 4-year-old nephew. He began turning to alcohol at all times of the day and partying. He fell into a depression, his kidneys began to fail, and he was 100 pounds overweight.

“My past made me who I am. I'm so grateful for that person because they survived and without them surviving, I wouldn’t have been able to thrive in this moment and to thrive in the moments to come.”

There were times he felt like giving up. It was during one of his darkest moments, where he almost wrecked his car, that he turned back to his religion. Growing up with his father as a pastor, Emmanuel admits to rebelling a bit. However, once he opened his Bible again, he says he began to find his purpose.

“I came to Indiana, and I became someone else. It wasn’t instant and it took a lot of self reflection, accountability, and determination. With God and the want to be better I lost the weight. I quit drinking. Let go of my nicotine habit. But most noticeably I started being happy with who I am, learned to love who I was, and grasped a more positive outlook on who I could become.”

Emmanuel has been sober since October 2023 and hasn’t smoked in over a year. Running has become an opportunity for him to clear his mind. He finds joy in cooking and baking. Emmanuel also embraces his love for singing while enjoying karaoke.

“I would tell my younger self, ‘You’re going to make it. Just breathe. There will be loss, but you need to live. Don’t forget to choose you.’”

Emmanuel says his family is his biggest support system. They’ve always believed he could achieve great things if only he could see it in himself.

“When I called my mom to tell her I was the Speaker, she cried. She’s proud, but not just because I am Speaker. She’s proud because she says I might finally see what I have to offer.”

The big speech

Filled with nerves, Emmanuel took to the small stage in February and presented his speech to the Student Speaker Committee. At the time, he wasn’t super confident; however, he says he prayed for the ability to be able to give a speech that had some sort of impact.

“I knew I had to do this speech. There might be people going through difficult things like I did or maybe there are people who don’t have a support system. I think everyone should get to hear the words ‘I’m proud of you’.”

The speech Emmanuel will give for commencement offers advice to the graduates and their families. He reminds everyone that life won’t always be perfect, but there are still ways to find happiness even in uncertainty.

Most of all, he wants to remind graduates that they’ve achieved something great, but it’s also just the next step into something even better.

“College is not easy. No matter where you start or how smart you are, whether you’re younger or older, it’s not easy. The dedication you have to give and the sacrifices you have to make are hard. So, when you graduate, that’s something to be proud of.”

What’s next

Emmanuel is looking to finish out his supply chain degree in December 2024 and then go on to pursue his master’s. He will be launching his business this summer, and he’s also got his sight set on competing in the New Venture Competition this fall.

Through it all, Emmanuel is sure to be wearing a big smile and embracing the opportunities that come his way.

“I’m finding something in me that I didn’t know I had, which is confidence in who I can be because I don’t want to just live for me. I want to make a future that’s a little bit better for everyone.”

College is not easy. No matter where you start or how smart you are, whether you’re younger or older, it’s not easy. The dedication you have to give and the sacrifices you have to make are hard. So, when you graduate, that’s something to be proud of.

– Emmanuel Sheard | 2024 Student Speaker

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.