Each year, the Indianapolis campus of Ivy Tech Community College educates more than 28,000 students. 

As the largest campus within the College, over 800 staff and faculty members at Ivy Tech Indianapolis work diligently and passionately to ensure that our students make it to Commencement at the Indiana State Fairgrounds every May. 

On Thursday, May 2, proud family, friends, professors, neighbors, board members, administrators – community in all – watched more than 1,000 students walk across the stage to a diploma that they worked tirelessly to secure.

Stage party members recognizing the Class of 2024 included Courtney Roberts, Ivy Tech Foundation President; Dominick Chase, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Terry Anker, Ivy Tech State Board of Trustee; Michael Dora, Ivy Tech State Board Trustee; and Gerald Maki, Ivy Tech Indianapolis English professor serving as the processional’s grand marshal; the Ivy Tech Indianapolis Campus Board Trustees; and the Ivy Tech Indianapolis Campus Cabinet. 

Joining the stage party were Mario Rodriguez, the Indianapolis Airport Authority's Chief Executive Officer and chair of the Ivy Tech Indianapolis Campus Board of Trustees serving as Commencement Keynote Speaker; and Parisa Ghafoor, 2024 graduate and the Student Commencement Speaker.

Dr. Stacy Atkinson, Ivy Tech Indianapolis Chancellor, serving as the master of ceremony, kicked off the afternoon of inspirational speeches, sharing how much she and the entire Ivy Tech Indianapolis staff and faculty cherish and admire our graduates’ resolve.

Dr. Atkinson’s speech read, in part: 

Your academic journey may have begun with doubt and fear, yet you persevered through it all to achieve your dreams. Your success and achievements are impressive.

Graduation is a significant life event and a great achievement. However, please pause to remember how you came to this day … Some of you juggled the heavy responsibilities of a job and family while simultaneously attending class. Years from now, when you look back at your time at Ivy Tech, I hope you will remember how well you navigated the many trials that came your way.

Education is not just about acquiring knowledge; it's about discovering who you are, what you're passionate about, and how you can contribute to society. It's about embracing new ideas, challenging the status quo, and never settling for mediocrity. Go forth and use your education to make a difference in the world around you.

There were several commonalities between the 2024 Commencement Keynote Speaker and Student Speaker. Together, their speeches underscored the values of resiliency, community, and hope for the future, making their messages particularly inspiring for the graduating class. 

Ghafoor spoke about her journey from Afghanistan and the obstacles she faced, while Rodriguez talked about his humble beginnings and the adversity he faced in his career. Ghafoor's speech emphasized the significance of holding onto dreams despite challenges. At the same time, Rodriguez quotes Paulo Coelho, saying, "When you want something, the whole universe conspires in order for you to achieve it," highlighting the power of aspirations. 

Both speakers stressed the importance of community and the support of others. Ghafoor shared a heartfelt and tearful thanks to her mother for her unwavering support; Rodriguez discussed how his higher purpose involves making people's lives better, the importance of human connections, and the enduring value of relationships over material accomplishments, as he offered a profound perspective on what truly matters in life with the example of how his team at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport came together during Hurricane Katrina.

Mario Rodriguez, Indianapolis Airport Authority's Chief Executive Officer and chair of the Ivy Tech Indianapolis Campus Board of Trustees serving as Commencement Keynote Speaker, poses with Chancellor Atkinson as he accepts his Ivy Tech honorary degree in college and community service. 

Rodriguez’s speech read, in part:

"Buildings don’t last forever, bridges collapse, and levees fail; what matters in this world is you, your family, your friends, and everyone that surrounds you, whether they are friends or not. So be good to everyone around you and yourself.

Your beginning is here, and I am sure all of you will shine like the first fires on earth.

Both speeches convey valuable life lessons. While Rodriguez shared specific lessons learned from his experiences, such as understanding people, showing empathy, and taking care of oneself, Ghafoor spoke about not only her strength and resilience but also that which is found within each graduate.

Ghafoor’s speech read, in part: 

"Today, as I stand before you as a proud graduate, I am living proof that no dream is too big, and no obstacle is too great to overcome. My journey serves as a testament to the power of resilience and the indomitable human spirit.

To my fellow graduates, as we stand on the threshold of a new chapter in our lives, let us carry with us the lessons we have learned along the way. Let us never forget the strength and resilience that lie within each and every one of us."

And with that, just as Rodriguez said during his keynote address: 


“Congratulations, and thank you for choosing to make your community better with an Ivy Tech education. The state needs you. Most importantly, our community needs people with great minds, such as yours, to propel it into the future. I see that your future is bright.”

– Mario Rodriguez, Indianapolis Airport Authority's Chief Executive Officer and chair of the Ivy Tech Indianapolis Campus Board of Trustees

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.