Judy Branham, 53, is a non-traditional student who is completing her first bachelor's degree, with honors. Her degree is in communication/journalism. She completed her associate's degree in visual communication/photography at Ivy Tech Community College in 2007.
She is married to her husband Ken, and she serves as an office administrator in his business, Yesteryear Builders, a builder of custom homes, barns and decorative concrete.
When she graduated from high school in 1976, Branham was a Hoosier Scholar, earning a fully paid four-year scholarship, but life circumstances kept her from taking advantage of the scholarship.
In 2003, Branham enrolled full-time at Ivy Tech. However, her father, a World War II veteran, died that fall. Nearly 60 years after the war, her father's service helped her pursue her goal of a college-degree via an award for children of disabled veterans.
After receiving her associate's degree, she found herself unemployed, which led her to pursue a bachelor's degree at ISU.
Branham said her commencement address will seek to inspire her fellow graduates "to look at positive examples we have all had in life and follow those good examples."
Without the veteran's award, scholarships and "the kindness that people have shown along the way" she would not have been able to complete her bachelor's degree, she said.
When she made the commitment to go to college, she wanted to do something she enjoyed. As an already accomplished photographer and published author, she had always desired to further her education as a journalist.
Branham is currently writing a book about research she did at the former Vigo County Poor Farm. She seeks to be a freelance writer of human-interest stories.
Dean Hirsch will also be addressing the audience at the commencement.
Hirsch, 63, former president of World Vision International, holds degrees from two colleges and has earned four honorary doctorates during a career spent on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged.
He received his master's degree from ISU, after working extensively in disaster and post-conflict situations. He helped set up famine relief in Ethiopia, AIDS prevention work in Africa and Asia and peace building programs in countries such as Bosnia, Rwanda and El Salvador.
For those unable to attend the ceremony, it will be streamed live at www.indstate.edu.