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IU Northwest News

Criminal Justice senior values involvement, networking

Larissa Dragu lands job on political campaign, her ‘biggest opportunity thus far’

Thursday Oct 30, 2014

Larissa Dragu has had many experiences in her young life thus far, but she is especially grateful for the journey that landed her a home at Indiana University Northwest.

A native of Romania, Dragu, 23, moved to the U.S. in 2002 and currently lives in South Bend, Ind. She first chose Purdue University North Central as her college, but after a year, she found herself standing in the Office of Admissions at IU Northwest, filling out an application on the urging of her sister, who felt strongly about them both attending a university with a broader range of studies.

“I still remember that moment so vividly,” Dragu explained. “I continued my education at IU Northwest because I felt at home, and for me that is essential. I will always be grateful that IU has a regional campus in Northwest Indiana, because it allows me to live at home and work, while getting a great education.”

Before moving to South Bend, the Kankakee Valley High School graduate commuted daily to IU Northwest from Wheatfield, Ind., nearly an hour’s drive one way. She was happy to make the drive, though, because of the vibrant student life she says IU Northwest provides.

The IU Northwest education for which she is grateful is due, in part, to the level of energy she puts into every opportunity. A criminal justice major, Dragu looks forward to a May 2015 graduation. As a regular on the Dean’s List and Chancellor’s List, Dragu is clearly succeeding at finding and seizing her opportunities.

In particular, she says networking, connecting and getting involved have been key to her success. She has served the student body as Student Government Association president and as a representative to other clubs, including the Criminal Justice Student Association and Student Ambassadors. Dragu collaborated on research with Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Monica Solinas-Saunders and has also served on many IU Northwest committees.

“My education has helped shape my view of the world by broadening my horizons and equipping me with the tools I need to be successful in my future endeavors,” Dragu said. “Everything I have learned through my studies and my interpersonal relationships at IU Northwest have led me to the opportunities I have now.”

Perhaps her most fulfilling opportunity to date is her current role as administrative assistant for Congresswoman Jackie Walorski’s campaign where she works closely with the finance, political and communications staff. Her responsibilities include research, drafting campaign correspondence, ensuring data integrity, accounting data entry, event preparation and overseeing the work of volunteers and interns. She also represents the campaign at community events and assists at campaign rallies and receptions.

“I consider this experience one of the biggest opportunities of my career thus far,” Dragu said. “I have learned how to navigate and proficiently work with new programs. Also, my time management and organizational skills have developed all the more.”

Dragu is attending IU Northwest on a 21st Century Scholarship. By definition, this means that she is a first-generation college student who has upheld a promise to excel academically. But fulfilling a promise often comes with significant challenges. She has successfully overcome her obstacles thanks to her parents, who have been unwavering in their support, as well as her faith and a solid work ethic.

“Hard work is always the one thing that sets one person apart from another,” Dragu said, “and I know how far I am willing to sacrifice to get to where I need to be.”

Dragu feels that the faculty and staff at IU Northwest have helped her grow into a well-rounded student who is ready for the professional world. As she looks toward finishing her final five classes to earn her undergraduate degree, Dragu reflects on each of her experiences at IU Northwest and how they’ve shaped her into the individual she is today, ready to take on a fulfilling career.

“I was surrounded by staff and faculty who were passionate about the things they taught and knew how to engage students. I grew not only as a student learning from professors who have had successful careers as attorneys, researchers, chiefs of police, but as an individual as well.”

Dragu plans on attending graduate school. While there are many areas she is interested in pursuing as she continues her education, her ultimate goal is to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Getting there will be challenge,” she acknowledged, “but I know that with determination and hard work anything is attainable.”

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