First African-American Federal Judge in State’s History Delivers 2017 Commencement Address
Events and Lectures
The Honorable Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge, United States District Court

The Honorable Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge, United States District Court

United States District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, the first African-American federal judge in Indiana’s history, delivered the 2017 commencement address at Franklin College on Saturday, May 20, 2017.  Two-hundred and ten students earned their degrees. The ceremony, with a standing room only crowd, was held in Spurlock Center Gymnasium.

“Don’t be afraid to do something that hasn’t been done before; don’t be afraid to be the first,” Pratt said in her remarks to the Class of 2017.

“You are an amazing class.  Your diversity is one of your strengths.  I urge you students to continue to use the FC tradition of being instruments of justice.”

“My final insight is that believing in yourself will make things happen.  And just because something has never happened before doesn’t mean it is not possible.”

Pratt was nominated on Jan. 10, 2010, to serve on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.  She was voted to the floor by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 11, 2010, and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate (95-0) on June 15, 2010.

During the ceremony, Pratt also received an honorary doctorate of laws from the college and John Peterson, a former member of the Franklin College Board of Trustees, received an honorary doctorate of humane letters.  Robert Wilson-Black, CEO of Sojourners, gave the baccalaureate address on Friday, May 19 and received an honorary doctorate of divinity.

Kiara Patton

Kiara Patton, Senior Class Speaker

President Thomas J. Minar with the Class of 2017

President Thomas J. Minar snaps a selfie with the Class of 2017 from the podium.

The senior class speaker was broadcast journalism major Kiara Patton, daughter of Antonio and Tanisha Patton of Indianapolis.

The Class of 2017 by the numbers:

Males: 90

Females: 120

States represented: 9

Countries represented: 4 (United States, Nigeria, Uganda, Switzerland)

The top five majors in the graduating class were exercise science, biology, elementary education, public relations and psychology.

For more information, contact the Franklin College Office of Marketing and Communications at 317. 738.8185.

(Posted May 20, 2017)

POSTED May 20, 2017