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Join IUNAA for continued professional benefits

Newest members say opportunity to give back, grow professionally are reasons to stay involved

Tuesday Aug 04, 2015

The Indiana University Northwest Alumni Association (IUNAA) recently welcomed several new faces to its board of directors.

The IUNAA is the regional representation of IU’s alumni association. Serving more than 28,000 alumni that call the Gary campus their alma mater, the IUNAA helps you maintain your lifetime connection to IU, as well as organizes activities that further the University and its greater community.

The IUNAA is governed by an 18-member board of directors, comprised of five executive members, seven at-large members and six divisional representatives for the academic specialties of IU Northwest.

There are perks to membership, like discounts and social outings, but the most significant benefits lie in what the active members bring to the table, such as connections that can help you professionally, career coaching, and more.

Take it from some of the members who have recently joined the IUNAA board. Recent IU Northwest graduates Cory Armand, Dana Linkiewicz, Jim Slavo and Janet Tarkington answered the call to tell us what their involvement in the IUNAA means to them.

Meet Cory Armand: Looking forward to mentoring

Cory Armand, of Gary, graduated from IU Northwest in 2015 with a degree in business administration.  He works at Cargill, Inc., a corn milling company, where he was promoted to the position of SAP Superuser upon earning his degree. Armand now manages the process of ensuring that the company’s physical inventory matches the inventory in the system for accounting and customer service purposes.

Armand says that he initially joined the IUNAA because he wanted to give back to his community and his alma mater, but he has since realized benefits that he hadn’t thought of previously.

“I’m interested in mentoring and being mentored,” he said, “and after meeting with the alumni association and learning that there are many mentorship opportunities available through membership, I was sold.”

Further, Armand believes his involvement in IUNAA benefits his career.

“Conducting business on behalf of the University and alumni association gives me constant practice interacting with professionals,” he said. “It is also a perfect networking opportunity.”

Armand says his number one goal as a member of the alumni association is to “become a mentor to a student or students who may not be sure of the direction they want to go, or who may feel discouraged for any reason.”

Armand says the culture of the campus and the relationships that are developed between the faculty and students, is another benefit for him to stay involved.

“In class and out of class, you feel the passion that the faculty has for the University and the students, and for me that’s motivation to want to keep that culture alive,” he said.

Meet Jim Slavo: Hoping to Inspire

Jim Slavo joined the IUNAA in 2015 The Schererville resident graduated from IU Northwest in 2015 with a degree in communications.

Slavo is a firm believer that, “you are who you are, because of where you have been.” His IU Northwest education, combined with some challenging life experiences, have led him to an intense appreciation for his own strengths and his ability to inspire others.

After becoming a father at the age of 16, Slavo’s life began changing faster than he could comprehend. He dropped out of high school but still managed to open and develop a successful marketing company.

“But I never got over the disappointment I felt from within about not completing school,” Slavo admitted. “I felt like a failure, like a fake. How could I teach and motivate others without proper education?”

He had anxiety over the success of his company and the ability to provide for his family. Earning an education helped calm those fears.

“IU Northwest allowed me the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong yearning to complete my education, answer my questions and, most importantly, gain the confidence to evolve,” he said.

Now a college-degree-holding professional, Slavo is more committed than ever to building relationships that enable him to give back and make a meaningful impact in someone else’s life.

“I feel there are many strengths I possess that will help continue IU Northwest’s tradition of making dreams come true. . . . Like many other classmates I met at IU Northwest, this campus is full of success stories such as mine. I am committed to sharing my story and helping others achieve theirs,” he said.

Meet Janet Tarkington: ‘Giving back is a gift in itself’

A Highland resident, Janet Tarkington graduated with highest distinction from IU Northwest’s Dental Hygiene Program in 2011 and holds a local anesthesia permit. She obtained with highest distinction her Bachelor of Science in Biology/Pre-Dentistry from Purdue University Calumet in 2009. She is currently completing her Master of Science degree in Health Care Administration from Grand Canyon University and recently acquired her online teaching course certificate from IU Northwest. 

Tarkington joined the Dental Education department as an adjunct faculty in the summer of 2012 and also serves the IUNAA as the Dental Education school representative.

Tarkington joined the IUNAA because she believes that “giving back is a gift in itself.”

“A person who has the capacity to give already receives the gift because the act of giving is rewarding and a blessing especially if you know that your gift is helping someone fulfill their dreams, such as receiving the IUNAA scholarship,” Tarkington said. "For me, any form of giving back to a good cause whether it is in the form of finances, talents, or time is important because it is a form of my gratitude to God to bless someone else as I have been blessed. It is a pay-it-forward mentality."

Meet Dana Linkiewicz: ‘Each student can bring something relevant and important’

Dana Linkiewicz of Valparaiso joined the IUNAA upon graduating from IU Northwest, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2015.

Linkiewicz is grateful for the “endless opportunities” that IU Northwest has afforded her. Completing clinical rotations at the area hospitals led her to a job offer from Porter Regional Hospital in Valparaiso even before she graduated. She is now working as a registered nurse in the Emergency Department.

Linkiewicz knew she didn’t want her involvement with IU Northwest to end with graduation so she joined the IUNAA right away. She feels strongly that the future of the school, and the surrounding community, depends on it.

“Being involved in the alumni association is important because each student has a different degree and perspective on their experience at IU Northwest. Each student can bring something relevant and important to discuss to help improve the future of our school,” Linkiewicz said. “If every student became a member of the IUNAA, the future of IU Northwest could be limitless in its opportunity to grow as a community and school. The alumni association is not just about IU Northwest as a school, but about the culture and community of Gary as a whole. We need the entire community's participation to allow growth to continue.”

Linkiewicz said that while contributing to the future of one’s University is worthwhile in itself, involvement in IUNAA also benefits members’ careers and personal lives.

“Becoming a member gives you a sense of pride in that you're helping your staff and future students get to where you are today. That in itself is a great motivating factor to stay involved in your school, especially after graduation,” she said. “I really feel like I am making a difference. We strive to improve the future of IU Northwest, and strive to bring our community and culture closer together.”

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