DASA award winner finds her calling in education

When Emma Frye first began college, she anticipated a career as an occupational therapist, though she had also always liked working with children.

A job shadowing experience in her second year at an Indianapolis college helped steer her back to her first love of education when she realized occupational therapy just wasn’t for her. “As I shadowed occupational therapists in schools, I knew in my gut that it was not where I belonged — I longed to be in the classroom with students.”

Emma Frye stands in the Springwood Hall hallway in front of the windows

Emma Frye received a Distinguished Alumni Service Award. She is an education major at IU East.

So after spending her third and fourth year in the education program at Indiana University East, the senior Elementary Education major is being recognized for her academic excellence. She’s this fall’s Distinguished Alumni Service Award (DASA) recipient at IU East.

The 2018 Centerville High School graduate attended the University of Indianapolis for two years before transferring to IU East at the beginning of her junior year. She will be student teaching this winter ahead of graduating in May 2022. She was not aware of the DASA program until being notified she was receiving an award.

Frye was recognized at the annual luncheon in mid-October in Bloomington, where she received the DASA recognition, along with the Sue Talbot award for having the top GPA of education majors in the DASA cohort. “I had the privilege of sitting next to, and being introduced by Sue Talbot, the woman who funded my second scholarship.” The award was presented by former IU East Chancellor Charlie Nelms.

“This was such a heartwarming experience as I was honored for all my hard work and dedication to this field of study,” Frye said. She admits always having an interest in education, inspired by her mother Jan Frye, who has taught for 36 years — currently at Charles Elementary in Richmond. “My mom has always inspired me with the impact she has made in many children’s lives.”

Besides occupational therapy, she was also interested in finance and economics. When she started school in Indianapolis, her major was to be in finance with a concentration in OT. However, the experience just helped steer her back to the field she was believes she was meant to choose. “I longed to be in the classroom with students. Before my junior year started, I began a job as a Title I paraprofessional at the school where my mom teaches. Within two days at that job, I went into my mom’s room and told her this was what I wanted to do.”

That’s when she reached out to IU East to get into its education program. “And I have not regretted anything about it.”

She also appreciated IU East being affordable and close to home. “And it has a wonderful education program with great surrounding elementary schools.” She has worked in multiple classrooms during her time at IU East. “These placements have given me an abundance of skills that I have been able to implement in my own teaching. The real-world experiences that I have gained through this program has prepared me well for my own future classroom.”

She also sought out a smaller campus where she would receive more individualized instruction, “as well as build personal relations with students and instructors.” Though much of her work was online, her more recent in-person classes and her field placements were key to her ability to excel.

“The variety of schools around IU East where you can be placed in the education program are wonderful,” she said. “You get to experience so many different styles of teaching and types of school programs.”

About the Distinguished Alumni Service Award (DASA) Since 1953, DASA recipients—collectively known as the DASA Club—have donated more than $2 million in support of scholarships and grants to hundreds of exceptional IU students. Each year, Indiana University recognizes outstanding alumni with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, the highest accolade reserved solely for alumni. The awardees are leaders in their chosen fields who make significant contributions benefiting their community, state, nation, or university.