BA Biology (IUB 2015)
MPH (IUB 2021)
Hometown: Plymouth, Indiana
Current Position: Access Coordinator for Disability Services for Students at IUB
When did you graduate from IU? What was your major?
I graduated from undergrad in 2015, with a bachelor's in biology, and a minor in
anthropology. I finished classes in 2008, but I had outstanding student
loan debt, so they withheld my diploma, so it feels like it’s been forever since my
undergrad. (Today the IUB 21st Century Scholars office has a full staff and resources to assist students with financial hardships and other challenges and offers the Covenant, a supplemental scholarship specifically for IU Bloomington 21st Century Scholars.)
What was your experience like at IU? Any favorite memories?
I’m from northern Indiana, and I thought I was going to go out of state, but with
my 21st Century Scholars scholarships, I decided to stay in state and was very
happy with that decision. I love the campus, the green spaces, the flowers and
the trees. I was a die-hard science student, but I found I also had a passion for
the humanities. I lived in Collins, and it was wonderful to be surrounded by so many different types of people; art students drawing on the grass, hearing different languages being spoken, and meeting LGBTQ students. I grew up in a small town in northern Indiana, where I was not exposed to different cultures often, and I loved the diverse group of students at Collins. It was eye-opening, and so different than my environment growing up that sometimes I felt intimidated or “boring”, but I soon realized that was the beauty of college, meeting new people, and learning about different worldviews and experiences. To this day, I still love to see students drawing on the grass and hearing different languages spoken on campus. (There are plenty of opportunities to explore other cultures and perspectives through diversity on campus)
How about being a 21st Century Scholar? Did it help you to get where you are now?
Absolutely! My parents had financial issues and I didn’t know if I would've been
able to attend a four-year institution. Also, I had a great mentor, who helped me in
the transition from high school to college. Although, the program at the time didn't
have an office and was more based on email communication. I would have liked
to be in connection with other students, because coming to college was a real
culture shock and a completely different way of life, especially coming from a
lower-income background. (Today, with a fully staffed office, the 21st Century Scholars Program offers opportunities for connection through events, workshops, and resources.)
Was there anything you had to overcome during your college experience? If so, how did you overcome it?
I attended school during the 2008 recession, during which my parents lost their
home. I also got really sick with mono and had to take a medical withdrawal,
which only one professor ended up accepting. The rest of them gave me F's and
that tanked my GPA. (Today, the program's AmeriCorps student retention specialist, Rebeca Hayes, and team of advisors help avoid situations like this and help students get back on track, when things do happen.) I then had to take an extra semester and take out loans for that. That’s why it took me seven years to graduate. During the recession, the number of jobs heavily decreased. I remember my freshman year there were huge employment fairs with awesome science companies like Eli Lilly, but by the time I graduated, there was nothing. (Today, the program's Career Initiatives Coordinator, Rebecca Guest-Scott helps prepare Scholars for their future careers.) I did all of this alone, but in retrospect, I didn’t have to. There are so many resources that students can use. There’s always a solution and someone is there to support you. You are not alone. Also, it’s important to know that college is a marathon, not a sprint. Students need to do things that keep their systems sustainable.
What was your post-grad journey? How did you end up working where you do now?
When I started grad school, my son was three weeks old. Then the pandemic
happened and I was working full-time. It was really challenging. Two weeks
before my graduation, my mom passed, and I was emotionally burned out. I
ended up taking some time off to detox from that toxic productivity culture.
However, I pushed through and ended up graduating with a 4.0. After that, I
started to look for employment in public health, as I had worked at the Student Health Center here at IU. I landed a job here, and I love it. The office culture is
great and there’s flexibility and opportunities for growth and development.
What’s your current position entail, and what’s it like working for IU, instead of attending?
I’m an access coordinator at Disability Services for Students at IU. I aid students through the process of establishing disability accommodations which are a federally protected right. It’s awesome working for IU. They provide parental leave and helped my family and others during the pandemic. I’m proud to be a staff member.
Is there any advice you have for current 21st Century Scholars, maybe ones who will be going into the workforce?
I would say to keep your options open. If you don’t have specific things like family
that are keeping you in one space, broaden your horizons (even if it’s just for a
little bit). Take that big opportunity to go somewhere. In general, reach out to your
resources more, especially with mental health concerns.
What’s your favorite Bloomington food/hangout spot?
Upland Brewery. I’ve been going there since I was 20. I spend my
birthdays there and now I get to bring my son!