It’s definitely appropriate that senior Samantha Elleman is the recipient of this fall’s Distinguished Alumni Service Award (DASA).
She’s been at IU East since before she was born in 1997.
Say what? Elleman explains that her mother, Amanda, is a 1997 graduate: “She was four months pregnant with me when she graduated with her degree in social work.”
It’s not overstating it to say that the award delivered a major surprise – and major joy – for the 22-year-old from West College Corner, Indiana. She is a senior majoring in elementary education.
The award carries with it a $1,500 scholarship. The unexpected money essentially serves as Elleman’s get-out-of-college-free card as she works toward graduation next spring.
She also had to plan for and deliver a 5-minute speech on October 10 in front of a banquet crowd of 300 in Bloomington that included Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie.
That last part nearly didn’t take place for Elleman. She ignored the first few phone attempts to let her know she’d won the DASA Club award and been invited to a banquet and next-day luncheon as regional-campus winner.
“They sent an email about it, but I never received it,” Elleman said.
Consequently, she thought the follow-up calls from an out-of-area number were suspicious.
“I didn’t think it was real at first,” she admits with a laugh. Finally, she got word and happily had to make some fast arrangements.
“I was extremely honored to win this award,” says the honors student.
Her oldest brother sat in as her guest at the banquet. He is a student at IU Bloomington.
Scholarship winners were nominated for the award based on academic performance by their respective campuses. The award is funded by former winners who, in aggregate, have donated more than $2 million since 1953 to help exceptional IU students.
Elleman believes she was nominated because of “my communication and involvement with IU East alumni.”
She gave her speech on her experiences at IU and IU East and how the scholarship will benefit her as she completes her degree.
“With this scholarship, I don’t have to pay anything (for tuition the rest of the year),” Elleman said.
She also attended a luncheon for the DASA recipients. During the event she sat with Terry Wiesehan, IU East’s director of Alumni Relations.
“It is a great honor to receive a DASA award,” Wiesehan said. “Samantha did an excellent job speaking at the event. We’re very proud to say she is an IU East student.”
Elleman already has received several other alumni-related honors, including the IU East Alumni Association Scholarship, the Bette G. Davenport Scholarship and the IUEAA Pride of the Pack.
She is scheduled to do her student teaching next semester in a fifth-grade class in Eaton, Ohio.
Elleman says she remembers thinking she wanted to become a teacher as soon as she started kindergarten at the College Corner-Union County School. Her mother serves as a secretary at the school and her father, Jeremy, is an electrical contractor.
She was an honors student and three-sport athlete at Union County High School in Liberty. She attended IU Bloomington for three semesters before transferring to IU East in 2017. “I am happy I made the move,” she said.
For one, IU East is “significantly less expensive,” Elleman said, who is living at home with her parents and younger brother in Bath, Indiana.
IU East is a friendly, caring place, she says: “I feel like I know everyone’s name and everyone knows me. I feel so close, so connected with everyone, the teachers and the dean (of education).”
Elleman plans to pursue a graduate degree in the future, but ideally hopes to teach fourth grade for a while. Eventually, she says. “I want to get involved with educational policy.”
She also won’t forget her alumni honor and is ready to pass the help on. “I will stay involved with IU East,” Elleman said.
One way to do that, she promises, is to help future IU East graduates by having them in her classroom as student teachers.
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.