The presence of college graduates in a region is closely associated with greater economic growth, increased incomes and a more attractive quality of life, all characteristics of a forward-looking knowledge economy.
And those exploring Northwest Indiana will find that an important reason that “the grass is greener” here is because we are a region that truly values education, particularly higher education, proven by the five accredited colleges and universities in our seven-county region.
Indiana University Northwest, Purdue University Northwest, the various Ivy Tech Community College campuses and the two private colleges (Valparaiso University and Calumet College of St. Joseph) all share a collective priority: to make higher education accessible, affordable and fully engaged with the Region’s present and future.
Regional campuses, a real asset
The growth of regional campuses, like IU Northwest, is one of the significant developments in American higher education in the last century, providing students with a high-quality education that is also responsive at the local level.
By being a community-engaged partner, IU Northwest is better able to tailor its education to meet the regional and 21st-century human capital trends, needs and market demands. Students have access to a full range of academic programs that support the future-oriented knowledge economy, as well as the more traditional manufacturing and industrial sectors.
A signature example of this regional commitment is through partnership with the Northwest Indiana Forum. The Forum’s recent economic development plan, Ignite the Region, is actively supported by IU Northwest, Purdue Northwest and Ivy Tech, including the deep economic analysis provided by the Northwest Indiana Coincident Economic Index.
But beyond our work with the Forum, more than half of IU Northwest students also work directly in our communities and organizations, supporting community development and advancement. These partnerships ensure that our region’s and our graduates’ futures are more closely integrated with the knowledge-based backbone of greater Chicago, the third largest regional economy in the country.
Paulina Ugalde, a School of Business and Economics student, is just one of many IU Northwest students who has enriched her education through her research, particularly focused on analysis of economic indices.
Her research has provided critical insight, particularly for the region. Paulina’s studies allow her to build her résumé and confidence, and transform her life and the prospects for the Region.
Progressing our region, one student at a time
Transforming her life was actually the reason why Paulina came to IU Northwest. In 2016, she moved to Northwest Indiana from Mexico, in search of a better, more secure future, the “greener” pasture that has always caused people to make big life moves.
A mother to two children, she embedded herself into the life of the campus, absorbing all she could to understand her new community.
This May, Paulina will graduate, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. She is well-prepared for her next journey, attending graduate school this fall at The University of Chicago.
Paulina’s story is representative of the hard-working, reliable people one meets in Northwest Indiana. Students from East Chicago to Michigan City, can easily relate to her personal and academic journeys, but also to her dreams, as they, too, take advantage of the Region’s higher education resources to improve their lives and communities.
So I think that it is clear that one of the assets that makes the grass greener in Northwest Indiana is our higher education resources, both the campuses themselves and our students and graduates, who are your future professionals and our future leaders.
At IU Northwest, nearly three-quarters of our graduates stay local, strengthening our regional health and economic resilience. These alumni truly represent the human capital that helps to keep our grass greener.