By: Alexis Morales, Bicentennial Intern, Class of 2019, Business, Northwest
At the end of every oral history interview, I ask the question: “What does IU mean to you?”
Here are some of my favorite answers:
“It’s my second love.”—Eva Mintz
“. . .Acceptance.”—Anthony Partacz
“When I think about IU, I think of the spirit of discovery, the spirit of challenging yourself, the spirit of just becoming a well-rounded and educated person.”—Rahsaan Taylor
These are just a few of the reasons why Indiana University alumni are proud to call the Northwest campus their home.
Hi, my name is Alexis Morales, and this semester, I am honored to be continuing the work that my sister, Victoria Morales, began last semester during her internship as she researched the history of Indiana University Northwest.
While she did interview many alumni members, she focused the majority of her work on gathering the timeline of the development and transformation of the IU Northwest campus. Because she had already collected this research, I was able to dedicate the past three months solely to interviewing IU Northwest alumni to gain an understanding of their experiences while on campus and the effect their degrees had on their lives.
I would never have been able to make the oral history project a success without the help of a few special people. My supervisor, Mr. Steve McShane, Archivist-Curator of the Calumet Regional Archives, has supported me tremendously, and I cannot thank him enough for all of his encouragement and direction.
Last semester, my mentor, Director of Alumni Relations at IU Northwest, Mrs. Paulette LaFata-Johnson, helped Victoria compile a list of alumni she could contact to be interviewed. Of course, Victoria passed this list down to me when my internship began, allowing me to more easily connect with alumni members.
Since January, Mrs. LaFata-Johnson has been instrumental in my oral history project. With her help and guidance, I have been able to reach out to alumni via phone, email, and mail. I have had the pleasure of interviewing sixteen IU Northwest alumni thus far, and I feel grateful to have heard so many unique, inspirational stories.
The stories that these alumni shared have inspired me more than I ever thought possible. Due to the fact that IU Northwest is a commuter campus, I was aware that many of its students were nontraditional. Not everybody enrolled in classes at IU Northwest immediately after graduating from high school.
However, actually hearing many graduates explain how they managed to juggle academic responsibilities with twelve-hour work shifts, families, and extracurricular activities on campus is truly baffling!
I am doubtful that I would have stayed as motivated and determined as they were to enjoy their time as college students, all while pursuing their degrees. I have been honored to listen to their recollections because they taught me that perseverance, along with a little bit of heart, can lead you where you want to be in life.
I have interviewed alumni both in-person and via phone. Although the phone interviews were a new process for me, I am thankful for the option because they helped me to gather the stories of alumni who I was not able to physically meet.
I am excited that I have a couple more interviews lined up for the next month, even some with elected officials, which I am very much looking forward to! In addition, I am working with Mrs. Paulette LaFata-Johnson in order to create a mass survey that can be dispersed via email to IU Northwest alumni. Hopefully, this survey will be able to reach out to alumni I have not yet been able to connect with and who are interested in sharing their stories.
Also, I am optimistic that this survey will broaden the current location of alumni from within the Indiana and Illinois regions to all the way across the U.S. and maybe, this will be an opportunity for the alumni to reunite with the IU Northwest campus!
This internship continues to be a humbling experience for me. I often think about how these alumni walked through the same paths on campus as myself, and a few years later, ended up not only successful, but happy.
This never fails to remind me how fortunate I am to be enrolled in the very same university that led them to such prestigious achievements. At the Bicentennial Celebration, I hope that this oral history project confirms that Indiana University as a whole is changing lives.
Furthermore, Indiana University Northwest is home to a diverse group of individuals from all backgrounds, ages, genders, and religions who have bonded over their shared value of a world-class education.
It is home to an abundance of leadership and employment opportunities that are designed to enhance student career preparations. It is home to individuals with brilliant minds and strong hearts, many of who give back to their communities each day.
This powerful message is why I am grateful to be able to claim a little piece of IU Northwest for myself.