Peanut Butter, House Hunters, And What It Means To Be A Kelley

Kristin Pierce, a senior marketing major at the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis, was awarded the J. Dwight Peterson Key Award at last week's Scholarships & Awards Breakfast. The award is given to the outstanding KSBI senior on the basis of scholarship, extracurricular activities, leadership, and character. Below is a full transcript of her remarks after receiving the award.

Hello and good morning to my fellow members of the Kelley community.

I want begin by saying how truly humbled and honored I am that such an inspiring institution as Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business has chosen me for an award of this magnitude. I feel equally as fortunate to reflect on my incredible college experience.

I also want to let you know that I was pretty much given free reign up here. So with that, I considered providing you with a little insight on how to do the finer things in life, like picking the best peanut butter brand, kicking a soccer ball correctly, guessing which house will be chosen on House Hunters International, or designing the perfect PowerPoint presentation. However, for some reason, my family and friends reminded me that each of these is not as mind blowing as I might think. So I will save you from going into that... But before I proceed, I simply can’t help myself. Costco’s Kirkland brand of peanut butter won’t let you down, kicking the ball with your toe is ill advised, guessing the house that is out of budget is a good bet, and limiting the number of words and clip art on a slide is a solid start. Just thought I owed it to you to let you know.

But now that we have that established, I want to focus on something that I hope will be beneficial and maybe even a little insightful. In order to do this, I would like to go back to my freshman year when my Kelley journey began. During my early days in Indianapolis, I did not have the slightest idea of what was headed my way. It’s cliché, but it honestly does feel like just yesterday that my parents drove away from my apartment without me. I had to somehow find a way to fend for myself in an entirely new city, survive endless soccer practices, figure out where BS 2000 was located, and prepare myself for the first time a professor had a chance to randomly call on me.

It’s safe to say that I began my collegiate journey as a semi-terrified freshman and saw myself mostly as a Jaguars soccer player. Gradually, my homesickness lessened, and I began to adjust to my life as a student-athlete. Following the conclusion of my freshman soccer season, I found myself peering down on the New York Stock Exchange with Professor Steele’s introductory business class. With just this small taste of the incredible opportunities that Kelley offers, I knew I had to seek out more.

Now fast-forward 3 years, and here I am, a soon to be college graduate. Just recently I have come to fully realize that being in this stage of life means so much more than just being able to sing along to that Taylor Swift “I’m Feelin’ 22” song. Instead, it’s the time when walking across the stage marks not an ending but only a beginning to my learning. It’s also a time to reflect on my incredible Kelley journey that has gotten me here today. For this, I am very grateful because during my reflection, I quickly realized just how much I have evolved since coming in as that scared and meager little freshman.

Since day one at Kelley, I have learned a lot. And I mean a lot, with a 72-pt Wide Latin Font and all caps. For starters, my freshman self learned that Kelley is spelled with two e’s and it’s a last name rather than a first name. After mastering this important lesson, my time in the classroom helped to me to be able to develop a marketing plan, work in a team to complete a project, ideate and implement a strategy, draft a résumé and cover letter, and most importantly right now for me at least, I learned how to give a speech in my communications class. I guess this is a test to see if I really earned that A! But I’ll let you be the judge. With that being said, I have been so very blessed that Kelley has exposed me to so many invaluable lessons that pertain not only in the business world but also in life in general.

Despite having much more to learn, there is one piece of invaluable wisdom in particular that Kelley has revealed to me and that I would like to pass on to you. This insight came to me only after I finally grasped the true meaning of IUPUI’s slogan, “Where impact is made.” Yes, I understand that this is the old slogan, but it wasn't until recently that it all clicked, and I actually understood what it meant to me. Its meaning went far beyond just being a fancy little tagline that marketers like myself devise to attract and retain students. Instead, the combination of these four words took on a couple levels of significance for me.

On the foundational level, Kelley and IUPUI in general have made an impact on me both in and out of the classroom. Thanks to the efforts of numerous professors, advisors, mentors and even coaches, this amazing institution has provided me with endless opportunities. It has allowed me to mentor at the Math Assistance Center while helping my peers to better understand Finite math, to learn that academic journals aren't completely boring while working as a research assistant, to wear the Jaguars’ soccer jersey while playing domestically and even internationally, to wander the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark while studying abroad, to sit at the pulpit along side the President Pro Tempore while interning at the Statehouse, to pitch in with fighting homelessness and hunger while on an Alternative Spring Break trip in our nation’s capital, and to even land my dream job with the Nielsen company.

And to think all of that happened just last week… Okay no, it’s taken four years, but it’s gone so fast it seems much, much shorter. And maybe most importantly, each of these endeavors has allowed me to make so many Kelley friends along the way. Thanks for making the journey so much fun. And before I forget, I’d like to thank my parents, siblings, and grandparents, who are here today and who have been coaching me and cheering for me from the sidelines each step along the way.

I know that I am not the only one, however, that has been impacted. Whether you are a student or employee, I think it is safe to say that Kelley has impacted everyone in this room in some way. I’d bet that impact has been a truly positive one even if sometimes it felt like an uphill struggle.

Kelley is certainly a special place, and this wonderful institution has had a huge impact on my life. But lately, a funny thing has happened as I've thought about that impact. I've come to realize that the tables have now turned. Kelley has passed the torch on to me and to you to be the ones who make an impact. As a soon to be proud alum and young professional, Kelley has now left it up to me to make a positive impression on the lives that I touch and the communities I serve. The ball is in my court, or more accurately on my side of the pitch, as I am a soccer player. Fortunately, I know that Kelley has equipped me with all of the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to make an impact right away.

In closing, I’d like to challenge you to reflect on your Kelley journey as I recite the lyrics to that very special song, Taylor Swift’s “I’m Feeling 22”… Okay not really. In all seriousness, though, I would recommend that over the coming days each of us try to comprehend the impact that Kelley has had on us, to find a way to continue to amplify our impact, and finally, to give back to the place that made it possible.

Thank you so much and congratulations to my fellow graduates in the Class of 2014!