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Student Commencement speakers focus on finding life passion

The University of Indianapolis has chosen Tanner Alexander and Brandi Heil as the student speakers for the May 6, 2017, commencement ceremony. 

Brandi Heil (left) and Tanner Alexander
Brandi Heil (left) and Tanner Alexander

Alexander, the undergraduate student speaker, is from Seymour, Indiana, and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communications. Alexander has been involved with UIndy TV, student government and the UIndy Film Club, as well as acting as an ambassador for admissions.

Heil, the graduate student speaker, is from Bloomfield, Indiana. She will graduate with a master’s degree in mental health counseling with a concentration in child and adolescent therapy from the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences.

Both speakers will focus on how their fellow graduates should approach future challenges and finding their passion in life.

“My message for the graduates is that our backgrounds do not dictate our success and no matter how we got to this point, it’s what happens next that really matters,” said Alexander.

Heil said her theme will be about “accepting that we may fail at times” and not fearing failure. A huge Harry Potter fan, Heil plans to draw on author J.K. Rowling for inspiration “as she overcame her depression and created greatness from it.”

Alexander, who hopes to work in the non-profit sector and run for office someday, said his involvement in several student organizations and working part-time “reinforced the idea that just doing what is expected is never enough for me.”

Heil, a member of Psi Chi, the American Psychological Association and Tri Kappa, is seeking work as counselor following her graduation. “My experience at UIndy has shaped my future in many ways. I have been able to better my techniques for my future position through hands-on learning courses, practicum and internship opportunities that the program helps each student obtain,” she said.

Both speakers appreciate the University’s mission to equip students with the skills to give back to their communities. Heil, who has acted as a motivational speaker for Riley Hospital for Children for the past six years, already makes community service a part of her life.

“I love UIndy’s motto ‘Education for Service’ because I believe that it is our duty to help build our communities. Attending a school where this is a foundation has been a blessing in obtaining even more service opportunities and meeting other individuals with the desire to create change,” Heil said.

“The work you do should not just be about a paycheck. For me, it is about what you put back into the world. My education at UIndy helped remind me to do work that genuinely helps change my community for the better,” Alexander said.