Ball State University on Saturday celebrated its Class of 2024 with a traditional Spring Commencement ceremony held on the Old Quad.

The University conferred approximately 3,000 doctoral, specialist, master’s, and baccalaureate degrees for its Spring 2024 graduates in its 198th Commencement ceremony. Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns, speaking from the stage on the Fine Arts Terrace, encouraged the graduates to pursue a life of meaning as they joined the ranks of more than 210,000 graduates who came before them.

“I encourage you to seek fulfillment. Set professional goals that will make you and your families and your friends proud of your professional contributions—because your contributions have improved the lives of other people. That impact is enduring,” President Mearns said. “I also encourage you to pursue a life of meaning. Life is a gift—a precious gift. And to lead a meaningful life, you should share that gift with people who need you.”

President Mearns added that, “to lead a meaningful life, you must also embody certain core values, such as the enduring values articulated in the Beneficence Pledge.”

“Be sincere and speak the truth. Model integrity and value integrity in others. Be grateful and demonstrate your gratitude through your actions,” he continued. “Through your character and commitment, please help us create a world that is more peaceful and more just. We believe in that brighter future because we believe in you.”

The Spring 2024 graduates on Saturday also heard words of wisdom from Stedman Graham, a New York Times bestselling author, educator, business advisor, and 1989 Ball State graduate.

In his speech to Ball State graduates, Mr. Graham shared his experiences with self-leadership and discovering his identity—something that he encouraged graduates to achieve.

“You cannot drink from an empty cup, and you cannot give what you do not have. It’s difficult to practice self-leadership unless you know who you are,” he said.

In addition, Mr. Graham shared words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about life’s blueprint.

“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.’

“If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley, but be the best little shrub on the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, be a trail. If you can’t be the sun, be a star. It isn’t by the size that you win or fail. Graduates, be the best in whatever you are.”

Chairman and CEO of S. Graham and Associates, Mr. Graham has delivered lectures and training workshops worldwide about “Identity Leadership,” a concept based on the philosophy that people cannot lead others until they first lead themselves. His book about this concept, also titled Identity Leadership, was published in 2019.

As an educator, Mr. Graham has been a distinguished visiting professor at numerous colleges and universities nationwide. Mr. Graham, who earned his master’s degree in education from Ball State in 1989, is a former adjunct professor at the Northwestern Kellogg School of Business, where he taught the course, “The Dynamics of Leadership.”

Ball State on Saturday also bestowed dedicated University benefactor and supporter June Scheumann with an honorary Doctor of Arts in Music. Ms. Scheumann, the wife of the late John Scheumann, who graduated from Ball State in 1971, is the president and treasurer of the Scheumann Foundation.

Among many University gifts, the Scheumann family significantly supported the 2005 renovation of the John B. and June M. Scheumann Stadium with a $4 million contribution. In 2019, the Scheumann family made the lead $7 million gift to support the Scheumann Family Indoor Practice Facility at Ball State. Most recently, Ms. Scheumann contributed $2.5 million to advance the development and construction of the new Performing Arts Center—the catalyst of the University’s Village revitalization plan. 

Saturday’s Commencement exercises concluded with individual college ceremonies at Emens Auditorium and Worthen Arena.