Friday May 11, 2012
“Your IU education has allowed you to develop the skills of argument and reasoning, of analysis and discernment, of leadership and cooperation,” said IU President Michael A. McRobbie in his address to the Class of 2012. “It has given you time to explore many different worlds of knowledge that will lead you towards your passion and your life’s work. . . . Your education here at IU has prepared you to contribute in transformative and innovative ways to the prosperity and progress of this nation and the world.”
IU Northwest’s Class of 2012 consists of 815 individuals who collectively received 138 associate’s degrees, 548 bachelor’s degrees and 129 master’s degrees. Just more than 15 percent of today’s graduates completed their studies with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher and are graduating with honors.
In his address, IU Northwest Chancellor William J. Lowe referred to the diverse makeup of the Northwest campus’s student body and commended the students’ achievements in the face of their individual challenges in persevering towards their degree.
“This is a measure of the high value IU Northwest students put on academic achievement and attaining their educational goals, most while also working, raising families and managing many other life demands,” Lowe said.
In his remarks, Lowe also made special mention of graduates with military backgrounds – decorated with the Armed Services Cord of red, white and blue -- and thanked them for their service.
“We are proud to recognize, for the first time at an IU Northwest commencement, those serving on active duty with our nation’s military, as well as reservists, veterans of the armed forces, and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps members who will be commissioned upon or immediately after graduation.”
Meet some of IU Northwest’s accomplished graduates
Conversations with graduates about their journeys seemed to follow common themes. Regardless of their backgrounds and circumstances, the ability to take advantage of support, resources and opportunities was integral to their success.
From applying for internships to utilizing campus support services, these grads understand what it takes to succeed.
The importance of staying focused
Life certainly is good these days for Adam Brown, of Gary. The 22-year-old graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration on May 10; he is getting married on May 25; and he already has a human resources job lined up, thanks to an internship that led to a permanent offer.
Though it is clear that the 2008 Class Valedictorian for William Wirt High School has his life together, Brown admitted reaching this point was never easy. Staying focused on his studies was a significant challenge throughout Brown’s college career.
In particular, he described “battling alternative mindsets,” like being lured away from college by well-paying short-term jobs, or the idea that he could get by with less than stellar grades or finish school in more than four years.
To remain on task, Brown had a few talks with himself along the way.
“I knew that if I work hard now, I won’t have to worry about my family later on,” Brown said. “Four years really isn’t a long time when you think of the grand scheme of things. . . I would rather be poor for four years than poor for 40.”
Despite the modest income that a college student typically earns, Brown still had to work at least 20 hours a week at Best Buy while carrying 15 to 18 credit hours. This, along with serving as a deacon at New Beginnings Fellowship Church in Gary, didn’t leave room for much else.
"I think if I would have done any more than that, I would have passed out,” he joked.
Brown did all this while making every Dean’s List and accomplishing a 3.5 grade point average.
Ultimately, Brown wants to use his business savvy to help run his father’s construction business. It would be his “dream job,” he said, to become a partial owner and play a significant business role in running the family enterprise.
From academic probation to Chancellor’s list
Cheyla Camacho, 21, of East Chicago, enrolled at IU Northwest immediately following high school. She admitted that she was nervous and ill-prepared for college and had poor study habits. She found herself on academic probation after her first semester.
“After that first semester, I told myself, ‘I am not going to let this defeat me,’” she said.
Camacho took her shortcomings seriously and addressed them right away. She immediately found support through faculty mentors who helped steer her toward academic success – she made several Dean’s Lists and even a Chancellor’s List - and also introduced her to internships as a way to explore career options while gaining hands-on experience.
Three internships later, it seems that Camacho has found her niche. Interning in the Human Resources Department at Methodist Hospitals has confirmed that a hospital setting is where she wants to stay, preferably as an HR professional and, one day, a director.
“I feel like I found exactly what I want to be doing,” Camacho said. “I am really excited about that.”
In May, Camacho crossed the Commencement stage to receive her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Service Management with a minor in Public Health. She intends to dive directly into a graduate program.
Besides a master’s degree, Camacho is looking forward to house-hunting and planning a 2014 wedding.
For other students who face academic challenges in college, Camacho offered some profound advice that is based on her own success story.
“You are going to have your down days,” Camacho said. “But you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, honestly. If you can’t do it yourself, then find a good support system. I feel like, with the staff at IU Northwest, you are able to find somebody to help you.”
Switching gears and inspiring others, at 46
After graduating from high school in 1984, going to college wasn’t a priority for Sarah Jackson, of Valparaiso. Anxious to get into the workforce and earn a salary, she headed first into military service before beginning a trail of jobs from social service to retail to banking.
As someone who was repeatedly passed over for positions she desired because she lacked a college degree, the Gary native is now a staunch advocate for higher education.
“I knew the degree would open doors for me,” Jackson said.
Juggling the responsibilities of being a wife and mother to a school-aged daughter along with her job, Jackson enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College before transferring to IU Northwest.
As she grew more and more committed to her goal of a college degree, Jackson eventually left her job and devoted herself 110 percent to her discipline.
“This gave me a chance to explore marketing in depth and pick up two minors (in computer information systems and communications),” she said.
Jackson took full advantage of the opportunities available to her to further hone her skills. She served as president of the student chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and president of the National Society of Leadership & Success (NSLS) and also took advantage of two internships and two work-study opportunities, which she credited with solidifying her preferred career path.
Now 46 years old, it seems that Jackson has succeeded in reinventing herself. On May 10, she crossed the Commencement stage to receive her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Although she has two courses to finish this summer before her degree is official, Jackson is already well on her way to better job opportunities.
“I want to find a position where I can market a company,” Jackson said. “I want to be able to put them on the map and show them that new media is useful in making sure others can reach them.”
Students like Jackson are often referred to these days as “non-traditional,” but at IU Northwest, which serves a diverse population of adult learners, Sarah Jackson’s experiences would be familiar to many of her fellow students.
Jackson is also a first-generation college graduate and the first of five siblings to earn a college degree. Her success has inspired her older sister to return to school, Jackson said.
SPEA grad finds his calling in community service
Armand Buslon, 24, of Valparaiso, aspires to be a police officer or firefighter and is considering a career in the military. While the exact position this grad will have one day remains undetermined, he knows that it will be a job in which he serves others.
This penchant for community service is thanks in part to the IU Northwest Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) chapter, which Buslon credited for helping him to stay on track. In fact, had it not been for SAAB, Buslon said, he might not have graduated on May 10 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.
“(SAAB was) a great inspiration for me to finish my studies and graduate from IU Northwest,” Buslon said. “They could not stress (enough) how important it was to get an education, to help others in need, and to be a great help in one’s community.”
Buslon took SAAB’s advice and became seriously active in his community by becoming a volunteer firefighter in Union Township. The organization helped him to further cultivate his community service by helping him to secure a job as a student mentor in the New Student Success Program (NSSP), where he helped freshman to navigate their first year.
Choosing education -- and committing to serve others -- as a way of bettering his life is a decision that has served Buslon well. The summer before enrolling at IU Northwest, the 2007 Wheeler High School graduate had worked excessively long hours with a car dealership. He left that job to attend IU Northwest full time and “never looked back,” he said.
“I absolutely felt right at this school,” Buslon explained. “My first year, I immediately met new people and made new friends. IU Northwest has been a great part of my life and I will never regret getting my education and degree from this school.”