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Commencement Student Speaker Spotlight: Emilee Edmonds

Apr 30, 2024

Emilee Edmonds poses for a portrait Friday, April 19, 2024, on campus at IU South Bend. (Photo by Michael Caterina/Indiana University South At 20 years old, commencement student speaker Emilee Edmonds is among the youngest of the Indiana University South Bend class of 2024 and will be graduating as a double major in Physics and Mathematics.

“The person I was when I started college would not be in this position today,” said Emilee. “It’s kind of cool and scary, but it feels like a culmination of everything that has been invested in me.”

After her sophomore year at Goshen High School, Emilee was ready to speed things up and take the next step in her education. She finished high school early in August of 2020, and by spring of 2021, was enrolled as a freshman at IU South Bend. Initially she selected IU South Bend for its proximity to home and the ability to carpool with her older sisters who were both students at the time, and thought her time on campus was going to be a transitional period.

“It worked out in a really wonderful way,” explained Emilee. “Originally I thought I was going to transfer, but I really fell in love with IUSB. It was what I needed at the time to become where I am now.”

At first, Emilee was mainly focused on academics and wasn’t ready to get involved further on campus. However, being part of the Honors Program was a pivotal experience and she credits Dr. Neovi Karakatsanis, Honors Club director, and Karrie Jean, Honors Club assistant director, for seeing her potential and investing in her.

“They really helped me build my confidence and grow as a leader,” said Emilee. “It made me want to help others feel like they could belong as well.”

Emilee is now a recognizable face on campus. In addition to being student body president, she is also an Honors Program intern, president of the Physics Club, and serves as a chair for the All University Student Association (AUSA), a group of student government representatives across all IU campuses. And now, she will be representing the class of 2024 and speaking directly to her peers for one final time in an official capacity as commencement speaker.

“I have grown from a shy person who barely wanted to contribute in group discussions to someone who is giving a commencement speech,” remarked Emilee. “Looking back at where I started and the growth I have seen from there, it’s kind of wild actually.”

Her advice to other students to make the most of their time at IU South Bend is to get involved and take chances.

“Those who get involved feel the happiest and most connected because they have that community and culture that comes with being part of something,” said Emilee. “Also, I would say it’s important to be willing to make mistakes and try something you think you might fail at. Use them as lessons. It’s a disservice to ourselves when we hesitate to put ourselves in positions where we can grow.”

Although it’s bittersweet to be leaving what she said she considers her “second home”, Emilee is looking forward to what is next for her after graduating from IU South Bend. Her goal is eventually to work in higher education administration, in student engagement or student affairs.

“I really want to be the person who invests in students the way I was invested in.”

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