Class of 2023 graduates celebrate achievements, prepare for life after college

May 16, 2023 |

Indiana University East’s Class of 2023 conferred 710 degrees during its Commencement Ceremony on May 12.

Photos from the Commencement Ceremony and graduation events can be found on the IU East Facebook page. The recording of the ceremony is available to watch online at

As we continue to celebrate the Class of 2023, read about a few of this year’s graduates and their IU East experience, the impact they have made in the classroom or in their community, and their future plans.

Sam Roberts of Centerville, Indiana, is a Lingle Scholar, member of the men’s golf team. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

From researching to traveling with the men’s golf team or singing the National Anthem, Sam Roberts’ experience as an IU East undergraduate was as wide-ranging as it was memorable.

“I have enjoyed making new friends, making great memories on the golf course, and especially being involved with all the events on campus,” said Roberts, who was also on the planning committee for student body events, the Student Activity Advisory Team (SAAT). Besides helping plan and working at IU East events, and showing off golfing and singing talents, Roberts said he has acquired great business training for a future career.

A Lingle Scholar and member of the Honors Program, Roberts received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Roberts and fellow graduate Sidne Thompson of Richmond, Indiana, received the Lingle Scholar Award in 2019. Thompson is received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

“I have learned a multitude of helpful business strategies,” he said, noting a goal of someday owning and running his own business. During his college career, he had the opportunity to conduct research for projects including studying how the media covered the pandemic. “It was very interesting to find if there were any correlations between the number of news articles and the number of cases.”

A second project involved creating a children’s book, “Teeing off Fore Success.” He researched how to write for children and then wrote an introduction to learning and playing golf. “I have developed crucial research skills and have become a published author.”

Roberts presented on his children’s book for the Honors Showcase during Student Research Day in April.

He said he chose IU East because of the “family atmosphere” and being recruited for golf. “Both of these made the choice extremely easy for me. Every time that I was on campus, I was welcomed with open arms in all departments.”

His love of math and numbers led him into studying business with a concentration in finance and entrepreneurship.

He is already an Admissions Ambassor for IU East.

“If I were talking to someone about IU East, I would tell them that it is a great and affordable college. It is a smaller campus enabling students to engage one on one with professors while also retaining an IU reputation. Every office wants each and every student to succeed, which sets up everyone for success attending IU East,” he said.

His favorite memories are from the varied events and the trips for the men’s golf team. “Making friends from all over the world through golf, along with just having fun activities on campus every week – these were great highlights of my college experience.”

He was named to the River States Conference Scholar-Athlete Team in 2021-2022 and 2020-2021.

Roberts also performs vocally, Roberts has performed at the Spirit of Philanthropy, and has performed the National Anthem at sporting events. He first sang the National Anthem at IU East’s Commencement Ceremony in 2021. His father, Aaron Roberts, an officer with IUPD-East, had sung the anthem for years previously.

Roberts again sung the National Anthem at his own graduation.

“I really love getting up in front of my peers, showing others that IU East has talent. This year will feel different because it will be my commencement, but I look forward to being up there and singing again,” Roberts said.

He now plans to pursue his master’s degree as well as a job. “I feel very well-prepared for any future career.”

Camile Golay of Richmond, Indiana, received her Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education.

Camile Golay of Richmond, Indiana, was undecided when she enrolled at IU East as an incoming freshman. What the 2018 graduate of Richmond High School did know was that she wanted a respected college degree without debt.

IU East provided the academic freedom she was looking for, yet was located close to home allowing her to continue working two jobs while preparing for her future.

A familiarity with campus built from the time she was in pre-school carrying on into grade school by attending summer camps, was also a bonus.

But the choice to attend IU East was not out of convenience.

“When I stepped foot on the IU East campus my senior year of high school, it felt like I had never left,” Golay said. “You would think the sense of nostalgia would have worn off after a while, but it never did, and even during the pandemic I would drive out to campus to use the Wi-Fi, or using the computer lab even when it was the only place open.”

Deciding to go to IU East was one thing. Deciding a major was quite another.

The difficulty had more to do with Golay’s many interests.

“However, I knew that I was fascinated by the social sciences, I love to help people, and I am good with kids,” Golay said.

It took two years to decide a degree path. Golay had started her freshman year as an exploratory major before changing to elementary education in 2019. A short bout of “cold feet” led her to switch her major to social work, she said, before settling on secondary education in 2021.

“I worked as a gymnastics instructor for those first few years of college, and during that time I realized that I really wanted to work with kids, however, it was my experiences in college that made me decide to become a teacher,” Golay said.

The IU East School of Education faculty were instrumental in her experience. Golay found their enthusiasm, and the smaller class sizes provided the opportunity for students to ask questions and to build confidence.

“They are some of the most kind and understanding people I’ve ever met. They were always firmly confident in my abilities, they helped me find the resources that I needed when I was really struggling to make it through my final year, and as I go out into the world, I can only hope to be a little bit like them.”

College brought Golay the answers on her career path and played a role in helping to shape her into the person she wanted to become. The early years of college led her to becoming an educator, while the later years defined the type of educator.

“I chose social studies, because I think that it is endlessly important in teaching students soft skills such as empathy and cooperating, as well as teaching them to think critically about the world around them,” Golay said.

The four years at IU East provided a multitude of lessons; but not all were in the classroom. Golay built confidence as a teacher through her courses in educational psychology, different methods for teaching reading and promoting comprehension. She added eight months student teaching in a middle school classroom honed her skills, preparing her to be an effective educator, and supportive presence, in her own classroom this fall.

“It was during my last year of college that I found the most growth and I became kinder, more resilient, disciplined, and open-minded, and began to truly understand the ins and outs of education,” Golay said.

Outside the classroom, there was personal growth too.

“Over the past five years, I moved out, I learned to manage my time, I learned how to grow from criticism, I’ve broken down a lot of my previous misconceptions, and I am undoubtedly a better person,” Golay said. “Most importantly though, I now know exactly who I want to be, and what I want to do, and I have the skills and knowledge to do it. It wasn’t easy, and I certainly had some bad semesters, but IU East provided me with the tools and support that I needed to make it through.”

At Honors Convocation, she was named the Outstanding Secondary Education Student Teacher. Faculty said she worked diligently through every aspect of being in the classroom to communicate to her students that she sees them. From building individual relationships and keeping track of students’ particular challenges, to never settling for just teaching from the book, Golay put her unique teacher fingerprint on each day in the classroom.

Golay is also the recipient of the Secondary Student Teacher of the Year award from the Indiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (IACTE).

IU East provided the college experience Golay wanted. What she’ll carry with her is the relationships built during her time as an undergraduate.

“Even just spending time on campus you’ll meet people that will become fast friends, in your classes you’ll meet people who share the same values and goals, and you’ll learn and grow together,” Golay said. “And from your professors, and advisors, to success coaches, and even people in the varying offices around campus, you’ll meet people who are solely dedicated to helping you not only explore your passions but succeed.”

Now, with her diploma in hand, Golay is studying for her licensure exams. She plans to continue working this summer while she looks for a position as a social studies teacher in the area.

“I plan on staying ahead of everything so I can find a job in an environment that I truly love. Mostly, I’m just excited to spend some more time outside,” Golay said.

Jared Shuttleworth of Greenville, Ohio, received his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education.

Jared Shuttleworth of Greenville, Ohio, is described as a champion for the underdog.

As a soon-to-be teacher, Shuttleworth has overcome obstacles to succeed in a challenging program to get where he is today.

Friday, he received his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education degree.

A group of his friends who were seniors at IU East recommended he apply to the campus and arranged a meeting for him to meet with Jerry Wilde, dean of the IU East School of Education.

“We hit it right off,” Shuttleworth said.

Shuttleworth had spent his first three years out of high school working in a factory. “I had thought about being a teacher for a while,” he said.

Combined with an interest in history and teaching as a profession, his friends encouraged him to pursue his diploma.

Shuttleworth is known for his work ethic, a deep interest in the subject matter he is teaching, and his ability to persist.

Many students have family and life obligations while attending college. They work, have families, or have a variety of other commitments in addition to what they dedicate to their studies.

For Shuttleworth, the challenge to balance his education with work at times meant combining the two.

It was fall 2019 when Shuttleworth met with Wilde and enrolled in the secondary education program. He enrolled full time and was taking classes on campus.

That spring, in March 2020, the world and the campus had to navigate life as the pandemic took hold. IU East moved its courses online.

There were times he would Zoom into classes while he worked, making pizzas at Marco’s. He was facing an overlap in his schedules, changing residences, and for a brief time organized a soup kitchen with a friend to help meet the needs of others in his community.

His dedication and hard work in academics paid off. He consistently made the Dean’s and Chancellor’s lists, a recognition of outstanding academic achievement.

Faculty shared that Shuttleworth has had an amazing journey through the education program and could connect with students in a very unique way.

IU East School of Education Dean Jerry Wilde said time and time again that Shuttleworth would rise to any occasion, and that type of attitude is important in a future teacher.

“The other thing to know about Jared is he will always be a champion for the underdog. That’s who he is through and through. Jared lives and breathes equality and students will pick that up on the first day he is in a classroom. Every school would benefit from having a teacher like Jared,” Wilde said.

His experience at IU East has prepared him with all the experience he needs to enter the workforce knowledgeably, Shuttleworth said.

Shuttleworth is now planning to take his licensure exams to earn certification to teach in Indiana and Ohio.

Marla Fetty of Brownsville, Indiana, received her Bachelor of Science in History degree.

When Marla Fetty crossed the stage to receive her diploma on Friday, it was more than just a moment of triumph of overcoming challenging coursework, the long hours of study or research.

It was a triumph of overcoming personal battles and surviving breast cancer to career changes.

Fetty of Brownsville, Indiana, received her Bachelor of Arts in History.

She first started her journey at IU East in 1989. “I chose IU East because I wanted to be close to home and I needed an affordable option,” Fetty said. “IU East offered several different opportunities for me to pursue. I originally started as an accounting major but changed after a year of classes.”

She remembers sitting in courses taught by George Blakey (1939-2017). Blakey was IU East’s first tenured faculty member. He retired after 33 years of teaching American history as Professor Emeritus of History in May 2001.

“After having one class with Professor George Blakey, he encouraged me to follow my true passion for history. I switched to history, political science and geography. I was much happier after the change and thank him all the time for recognizing where he thought I had talent,” Fetty said.

In 1994, Fetty left IU East just before her last semester and completing her degree.

“I was in pursuit of a job at Ford Motor Company in Connersville,” Fetty said. “While there my father, an electrician, encouraged me to apply for the apprenticeship program. I was accepted into the program and completed a four-year program to become a journeyman electrician.”

Fetty continued working as an electrician until recently when she accepted a job as a reliability centered maintenance analyst for a brewing company.

In 2010, Fetty returned to work toward her degree, completing several more classes. Again, life’s circumstances prolonged completion as she had to withdraw from classes because of family medical issues.

Then in November 2021, Fetty was facing a medical challenge of her own as she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I completed a full year of chemo, radiation and surgery,” Fetty said. “On December 11th, 2022, two days after I finished chemo, I inquired about coming back to finish my last two classes. And now the journey is almost complete.”

Returning to campus after an 11-year span was bound to bring differences. Technology, student population, faculty and staff, buildings and the campus had changed. But, for Fetty, change was a positive.

“IU East has undergone many changes since I started my degree back in 1989. That is one of the things that I have enjoyed,” Fetty said. “There is growth and change to try to keep up with the future. I am always amazed at the new courses or new technologies available to students.”

The change meant learning new teaching methods, helping her to adapt to different perspectives. Fetty feels she has been challenged in writing and interpersonal skills.

“Overall, the diverse subjects and teaching styles have helped me to be able to focus on my training of coworkers and my ability to present material to various groups,” Fetty said. “Even though it is hard to pinpoint just one skill from one class, my skills have come from the broad range of classes and professors that have helped guide and reinforce my education.”

One project Fetty worked on was a history research paper, “The Death of General John Hunt Morgan.” This paper, she said, presented a dilemma.

“My original research and conclusion were contradicted by new information. I chose to recognize the flaws in my arguments and recognize how new information changed my understanding of the events,” Fetty said. “IU East has given me the knowledge to dig deep into research source material and formulate a balanced view of the material.”

Fetty presented on her research paper during Student Research Day held in April.

She is glad to be back to finish where she started.

She has been involved in academics, and she and a fellow student started the History Club organizing monthly meetings, events, and guest speakers.

“I will remember the professors most of all. So many of them offered great inspiration on my career. Even after my classes were done, we kept in touch for many years,” Fetty said.

Fetty joined fellow graduates at Day 71, a private celebration for the graduating class to countdown the days until graduation.

Friday, she attended the Commencement Ceremony. Now, Fetty will see where her journey takes her next.

Katie Russell is a Richmond, Indiana, resident and received her Bachelor of Science in History with a minor in anthropology.

Katie Russell has always had an interest in history.

The look into times past influenced her decision on what she would study in college and what she plans to do with her future as a new graduate.

Russell is from Camden, Ohio, and currently lives in Richmond. She first heard about IU East when visiting campus as a student at Preble Shawnee High School. The field trip was part of Junior Preview Day, an event providing informative and interactive sessions to help juniors as they transition to their senior year.

During the field trip, Russell met Admissions staff members and current students, learning more about the university and its programs.

“By being able to talk to some current students and such, I learned about the history program and professors. After a bit more research, I could see myself enjoying the program myself and pursued forward,” Russell said.

Russell enrolled at IU East as part of the 2019 incoming freshman class. Declaring a major and academic program was predestined.

“I have always enjoyed history and the work that comes with it,” Russell said.

As a graduate with the Class of 2023, Russell received her Bachelor of Science in History with a minor in anthropology.

Passion for history brought about the opportunity for many experiences through the IU East School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Honors Program. In 2020, she received a Glenn and Joyce Goerke Scholarship. The scholarship honors IU East’s second chancellor, Glenn Goerke, and is awarded to students for demonstrated academic excellence.

“As a first-generation student, the educational experience that I have gained during my years here at IU East has prepared me greatly to reach my goals. I have learned a lot as well as made countless connections,” Russell said.

Russell, along with IU East student Jamie Inman, received the Scarpino Student Fellowship to attend the Indiana Statewide Preservation Conference. The conference was held in South Bend, bringing students together from across the state help maintain Indiana’s history.

“I was able to both meet other IU students from other campuses and professionals that are currently in the field that I hope to join one day. It was a great networking experience,” Russell said.

Additionally, she worked with Aaron Comstock, assistant professor of anthropology, to separate, weigh, catalog, and package archaeological finds in the lab.

She was named this year’s Outstanding Student in History. Faculty described her as a curious and critical mind that proved adept at finding, building, and fostering unique connections between disciplines.

Russell is a member of the Honors Program. She presented her Honors Showcase project, “Creating Greece,” during Student Research Day held April 7. Her research examined the many factors contributing to the rise of complexity in Early Bronze Age Greece and its influence on the economy.

In addition to her academics, Russell was a work study for the very department that piqued her interest in the first place. She worked with the Office of Admissions throughout her four years at IU East. Russell also was a work study for the Office of Academic Advising.

“I was able to gain quite a bit of professional experience and connections that I will be able to contribute to my resume,” Russell said.

The connections that Russell has made while an undergraduate are the ones that she will share as a soon-to-be alumna. “I would talk about how on campus you are able to make countless professional and personal relationships on campus, whether it is with your advisor, professor, or even a classmate that will stick with you forever,” Russell said.

Now that she completes history of her own as part of the graduating Class of 2023, Russell plans to continue her education by pursuing a graduate degree. She is working on her applications, and ready to move forward.

Andrea Orozco of Hammond, Indiana, received her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

Andrea Orozco wants to be an advocate for minorities, to help give them a fairer chance when dealing with the juvenile-justice system.

She is more prepared to reach that goal now that she is an award-winning graduate of IU East’s online program.

The experience was a blessing for someone who lives 230 miles away in Hammond, Indiana, who has sons aged 3 and 1 and whose husband is in Hawaii right now as he serves in the U.S. Army.

She could not go to classes. They had to come to her.

Orozco found there was nothing around her hometown that could deliver the degree that she was seeking in the way that she was needing.

“I found IU East by myself,” she said. “I did extensive research to find the perfect fit.”

That fit included caring instructors, challenging courses and lower costs. “I met some really great teachers along the way,” Orozco said. “All were very helpful and supportive even though we were online. It worked out really great.”

It certainly did: She has been named this year’s Outstanding Student in Criminal Justice, an academic degree program that is part of the IU East School of Humanities and Social Science.

Her hard work earned her a cumulative 3.9 GPA and placement on multiple Chancellor’s Lists.

She said assistant professor Carrie Mier as being particularly helpful with criminal justice classes.

“I spoke with her a lot,” Orozco said. “I had three or four courses with her. They weren’t easy and she was very helpful.”

Orozco completed her degree requirements during the fall semester and currently is working as an advocate for sexual-assault victims at Fairhaven Rape Crisis Center in northwest Indiana.

Orozco was cited by faculty in the award biography as an excellent example of a criminal justice professional whose dedication to her education has never wavered.

That dedication comes from a deep desire to help at-risk youth in the justice system.

“It is personal. My motivation is how minorities have been treated,” she said. “I am Hispanic. We don’t get a lot of representation in justice. I want to help minorities go through the system properly.”

By being bilingual – English and Spanish – she can help in courtrooms, in education, in outreach and in resource support. She aims to eventually get a management position in a juvenile-detention center. “I want to work in reform, not just punishment,” she said. “It’s important to have someone who knows the system.”

She will start work toward a master’s degree after taking a break.

Orozco traveled to Richmond for the first time to attend graduation.

She already advises others to look into IU East for their educational needs: “I have a lot of friends that have been looking to go back to school. I’ve told them that I went there for three years, and it is a really great school.”

Ariana Hankins of Richmond, Indiana, received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry.

A close-knit culture that made it easier to connect with others, to be involved and to accomplish big things.

A Big 10 degree without all the big costs.

Those attributes are critical reasons why Ariana Hankins of Richmond chose to attend IU East to begin her quest to become a doctor.

The 21st-Century Scholar is glad that she did. Hankins found a big variety of support and opportunities as she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry degree.

“I have not only gotten close with students but also faculty and staff,” she said. “They have been an amazing support system.”

She wrote and presented research papers and worked as a laboratory assistant, helping to prepare materials and chemicals for classes.

Hankins became involved in university organizations, including serving as vice president of the Student Government Association and helping new students get oriented through Extreme Summer Jumpstart.

“Many of the connections I have made will last a lifetime,” she said. “It is like I have a second family at IU East.”

Speaking of family, she is honored to be a first-generation graduate and proud to walk at Commencement. “So, it’s extra special to me,” Hankins said. “I want to be a good role model for my siblings.”

She became a member of the Tri Beta National Biological Society and Pre-Professionals Club during her freshman year.

Through her lab work, Hankins believes she learned how to be a leader and discovered a better understanding of collaboration. “The laboratory experience helps more with the mechanics,” she said. “However, I know in the medical field I will encounter tons of unique individuals, so people skills are especially important.”

As a Summer Research Scholar, she worked on a project titled, “Exploring the Potential Function of YPL107W.” By doing so, Hankins sought to discover more about baker’s yeast, a model organism that shares biological properties with human cells.

“I got to present in person at IUPUI’s Research Day and it was an amazing experience. Not only did I get to share my work, but I got to see other students work as well,” Hankins said. “I also presented virtually at Student Research Day which was a fun experience as I got to present my work in different formats as well as with multiple audiences.”

She worked as a research assistant with Jill Schweitzer “and I got to help her class as well as other students conducting research,” Hankins said.

Schweitzer is an assistant professor for Biology and for Biochemistry in the IU East School of Natural Science and Mathematics.

Hankins learned a lot, too, by working with the SGA. “I enjoyed being a voice for the students. I got to sit on committees and speak with administration,” she said. “Each month I got to work on my public speaking skills as I gave reports at the Faculty Senate. I met many faculty members and one even reached out to collaborate on an event with SGA.”

Hankins plans to work for a year at a hospital or lab to build patient care experience.

Then, she’ll study for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) before applying to medical schools.

Jason Gillo of Hanover, Maryland, is the student speaker for the Class of 2023.

Jason Gillo of Hanover, Maryland, is the student speaker for the Class of 2023. He received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics degree online.

Gillo addressed graduates and guests during the Commencement Ceremony. The student speaker is selected through an application process open to any graduating senior receiving a baccalaureate degree with a minimum grade point average of 3.30. Selected applicants audition for the honor and are chosen by a committee.

Gillo considers IU East his second chance.

He previously attended college and was working on a degree as a double-major in physics and chemistry.

“Years ago, I began my pursuit of a four-year degree,” Gillo said. “Overwhelmed by my own shortcomings and the pressures of academia, work, and financial burdens, I stumbled and fell. Every aspect of my life seemed to unravel, and I found myself suspended both academically and financially. I was lost and struggling to find my way.”

Gillo left college and joined the U.S. Air Force. There, he said he found the tools to succeed.

“I discovered the value of momentum and the importance of developing life skills to support oneself when attempting something difficult,” he said during his commencement speech. “Incidentally, the skill I learned that may benefit you most here today is brevity. I learned how to be a better student, how to take notes, and how to study. I somehow regained a measure of the self-worth I’d lost.”

As a veteran, Gillo decided to return to college. He researched for a university offering an online program in physics and chemistry, and he found few available. IU East’s online degree in mathematics gained his attention. He said he was attracted to IU East School of Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) online mathematics program for its reputation. He felt he could succeed in math and be prepared for graduate school.

“IU East first came to my attention before the pandemic because I knew I had no idea where in the country I would end up after I left the Air Force, and IU East had an online math program with a good reputation. I was a little unsure about starting school again, but everyone I spoke to at IU East was welcoming and helpful, and that kind of solidified it,” Gillo said.

He was also encouraged that IU East is the Red Wolves, a connection to his squadron mascot at the Air Force tech school which were also the Red Wolves. This helped to put him at ease, he said.

Once enrolled in the online program, he embraced the opportunity. He excelled in his academics, joined the Honors Program, engaged in research, and built meaningful friendships, Gillo said.

As part of the Honors Program, his research on set theory helped him in modern algebra and his Senior Seminar class, he said. Gillo completed original research on unifying the trapezoidal rule and Monte Carlo methods and presented his findings for his project, “Full-Interval Trapezoidal Monte Carlo Integration,” at IU East’s Student Research Day in April. Also in April, he made his first visit to campus to attend the Honors Convocation to be honored as an Honors Program graduate. That weekend he again presented his research at the Mid-East Honors Association Conference in Indianapolis.

“This was my first time doing research and presenting it, and it can be really daunting to talk about math in public, but I am so proud that I was given the opportunity to do so! I want to speak on scientific pursuits regularly in the future, so this experience has been incredibly educational,” Gillo said.

As an undergraduate, Gillo said NSM faculty and staff made him feel welcome, and that help was available to him every step of the way but specifically in two main areas: technical and mentorship. For the technical side, he learned more in mathematics than he had anticipated, and is confident this will help him to succeed in graduate school and his future. “On the mentorship side, I have found a few faculty mentors that have offered themselves as resources for learning how to navigate graduate school and how to do effective research, among other non-math related skills. These have been invaluable to me.”

Now that his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics degree is complete, he plans to take some time off while preparing for graduate school in physics or mathematics. He hasn’t decided on just where yet.

“My time at IU East was hard, but I found help without compromising the integrity of the education I was getting wherever I looked for it. However, it definitely depends on what you put into it. I would tell someone that IU East is a fantastic institution that will make you feel welcomed and supported and where you’ll receive a great education, but that you need to take advantage of every opportunity to really get the most out of your time here,” he said.

Gillo hopes his speech to the class inspires others who may be struggling to succeed, or for those who feel overwhelmed, uncertain or like giving up, to try again.

“Embrace your second chances, learn from your mistakes, and remember, if people aren’t laughing at your dreams, aim higher,” Gillo told the Class of 2023.

Maci Frantz of Portland, Indiana, received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

Maci Frantz of Portland, Indiana, has always known that she would be a nurse. The impact of a young relative’s illness solidified her plans and directed her career ambition to caring for children.

“I have always wanted to be a nurse, there hasn’t been another career I have ever thought of. I have always had a passion for caring for others,” Frantz said.

Frantz received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree as part of IU East’s Class of 2023.

“My nephew had a brain tumor when he was young and I went through a lot with him and my sister,” Frantz said. “I also saw how great the nurses were in his life. It really opened my eyes and made me realize that I wanted to be that person in someone’s life when they are going through a hard time like my nephew was.”

A graduate of Winchester High School, Frantz chose the Richmond campus because it was close to home and for the IU East School of Nursing and Health Sciences program.

Through the nursing program, Frantz has learned firsthand what it is to be a nurse through coursework, skills in the technology packed laboratory, and clinicals. In March, she also traveled to Belize with the SONHS for the spring immersion trip, providing health care services to patients.

“I feel that the program has prepared me for the ultimate end goal, which is to pass my NCLEX and get my license to become a nurse,” Frantz said. “I have enjoyed all of the campus events over the last four years and also meeting so many great friends and professors.”

While completing coursework, Frantz additionally worked as a Supplemental Instructor for speech. The program offers free academic assistance to students enrolled in challenging entry-level courses.

Looking back at the past four years, Frantz is in awe by how quickly time has gone.

“I would tell others that IU East has a great nursing program and to enjoy your college years because time goes by fast and it will be over before you know it,” Frantz said in sharing what she would tell others about her experience.

On May 10, Frantz joined her B.S.N. classmates at the SONHS Pinning and Recognition Ceremony in Vivian Auditorium. The Nursing Pinning Ceremony is for nursing graduates to receive their pin to wear for the Commencement Ceremony and nursing awards given to students.

“I will remember all of the professors that have helped me through tough times. I will also cherish the lifelong friendships I have met over the last four years,” Frantz said.

Now that she has her degree, her future career is waiting. Frantz accepted a nursing position at Riley Children’s Hospital on a MedSurg pediatric unit and will soon move to Indianapolis.

Garrett Hoff of Metamora, Indiana, received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

Pardon Garrett Hoff if he seems a bit disoriented lately after spending so much time studying, tutoring and performing public-service activities at IU East.

“I don’t know what to do with so much free time,” joked the new graduate from Metamora, Indiana. “Really, it’s good to be done. I am proud of that.”

He has done many things that he can be proud of including maintaining a part-time job in addition to his studies, and campus activities. While earning his Bachelor of Science in Nursing, he tutored every year to K-12 students in math, science and language arts through IU East’s Center for Service-Learning.

He volunteered every year with Circle K International (Circle K) club, a college branch of the Kiwanis International, serving as president in his senior year.

He helped implement a grocery game program to aid students and organized a fun Fright Night.

Hoff also participated last fall in an eye-opening immersion trip through the IU East School of Nursing and Health Sciences to the Navajo Nation in Chinle, Arizona.

“It was kind of a culture shock at first,” he said. “I didn’t realize there is poverty to the level of their reservation. To see that in our country is sad.”

He took part in a vaccine clinic there that delivered COVID-19 and flu shots.

The trip included some enlightening experiences with Navajo elders. “We had a horseback ride that followed a guide who taught about culture,” Hoff said. “He took us into a canyon and showed cave paintings. He showed us plants they used in their own medicines. It was cool seeing how that all worked.”

Hoff is a first-generation college graduate in his family. “I didn’t grow up in the wealthiest of families. I started working at age 15 to save up and go to college,” he said. “I have always been pretty motivated to better myself.”

Amazingly, the 22-year-old didn’t hit campus with plans of volunteering – or pursuing a degree in nursing.

“Immediately, I liked the atmosphere and other students, so I became involved,” he said.

He quickly warmed up to the nursing program.

Hoff certainly has been happy with his choice to attend IU East, citing affordable costs, closeness to home and an IU degree. “If I had it to do over again, I’d pick IU East.”

He said he cannot point out individual instructors who helped him the most – because they all were instrumental in his quest for a nursing degree. “I knew them, and they all knew me. I felt more like a person and less like a number,” he said.

Hoff has been offered a registered nurse job starting at McCullough-Hyde Hospital in Oxford, Ohio. At first, he will serve a wide range of patients in a general sense but hopes to work into a position in the emergency room.

He has higher aspirations that would necessitate graduate studies. “I want to work eventually as a nurse practitioner,” he said. “I feel like I am more suited for a leadership position.”

Aubrey Volz of College Corner, Ohio, received her Bachelor of Science in Social Work.

Aubrey Volz transferred to IU East during her freshman year of college.

“I transferred to IU East due to the affordable tuition, but I ended up getting a greater experience than I had bargained for,” Volz said. “The first semester on campus I knew I was at the right place. The student body and professors were kind and always willing to help. The staff truly care about their students and what them to succeed.”

Volz is from College Corner, Ohio. Campus, she said, always made her feel at home.

After taking courses in social work, Volz received her Bachelor of Science in Social Work (B.S.W.) degree. Those few courses that inspired her to declare a major turned out to be a perfect fit.

“I like what social workers stand for in serving other and helping bring awareness to mental health and human struggles,” Volz said.

She’s enjoyed the community atmosphere. She felt heard when she shared concerns. She said the campus works well with students. And her peers were hardworking and dedicated to their education.

“My educational experience has prepared me to reach my goals in learning how to adjust to changes,” Volz said.

“Going to IU East through the COVID-19 pandemic taught me how to adjust to in person courses to online learning. I learned how to communicate through written communication more clearly and how to make connections with people without being in person.”

Volz was a member of the Student Social Work Association.

This April, she was named the Chancellor’s Scholar for the IU East School of Social Work during the Honors Program. Chancellor’s Scholar Awards are presented to the highest achieving seniors by academic school.

According to faculty, Volz has done outstanding scholarly work in the B.S.W. program. They attributed her as being insightful, inquisitive, and demonstrating an excellent ability to apply classroom concepts in working directly with clients in her social work practicum setting. Volz’s work has been consistently of the highest quality and instructors described her as dependable and dedicated to excellence in social work practice.

Volz is planning on taking her licensing exam for social work soon.

“I am still open to try a variety of avenues in social work to find my best fit, but I plan to start in a long-term care as a social worker,” Volz said.