Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Robert "Bob" Hayes Sr. is the recipient of Indiana University Kokomo Alumni Association (IUKAA)'s Distinguished Service Award, honoring his dedication to his campus and community.

IU Kokomo Gymnasium Opening, Tailgate, and GameBob Hayes at the IU Kokomo Volleyball Tailgate, 2013.

"I am so very proud of IU Kokomo and where it is going, and I am grateful to have had some small part in its evolution," Hayes said. "I am positive IU Kokomo has more to offer, and is growing to meet the needs of central Indiana. I encourage anyone thinking of getting a degree, or who has a child ready for the next step after high school to make IU Kokomo their first choice."

When he learned he would receive the award, he asked to have the May 29 recognition dinner at the Carver Community Center, another organization that has impacted his life. Proceeds from the event will benefit the educational and recreational center.

"It's an easy decision to give back to the Carver Community Center when I have the opportunity," he said. "It has played a defining role in my life, since I first attended in kindergarten. Many of us came from single parent homes, with no male role models at home, so the leaders there filled the void. Without the center, I would not be the person I am today."

Judy Golikto, IUKAA president, said Hayes has been a role model of community leadership to herself and other IU Kokomo alumni.

"Bob has a wonderful way in which he provides service to the campus, that also enhances the city of Kokomo and this region," she said. "He is an excellent ambassador for us, and a most worthy recipient of the Distinguished Service Award."

He was a major supporter of the campus partnership with the city and Kokomo Center Schools to obtain the Cougar Gym located downtown.

Hayes earned a Bachelor of General Studies degree from IU Kokomo in 1995. He has been president of the IUKAA executive alumni board of directors, and a member of the Board of Managers of the IU Alumni Association, where he was involved in decisions that affect all the regional campuses. He also is an at-large member of the Kokomo Common Council, and is immediate past president of the Carver Community Center Board of Directors.

"He is a hard working IU Kokomo alumni, dedicated to advancing IU, IU Kokomo, and his community," Golitko said.

The Distinguished Service Award dinner will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 29, at the Carver Community Center, 1030 N. Purdum St., Kokomo. Tickets are $30 each, and may be purchased at iuk.edu/alumni/DSA.

The IUKA also will recognize recipients of its $750 scholarships for 2014. Honorees include Ashley Lowe, Twelve Mile; Abigail Pinkston, Galveston; Hannah Randall, Kokomo; Julia Walters, Bunker Hill; and Ann Yebei, Kokomo.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Kathleen Ligocki sets an example of what a woman with an Indiana University Kokomo degree can accomplish, with determination.

ligocki-IMG_5058Kathleen Ligocki, CEO of Harvest Power

Ligocki, B.A. '78, is now a leader in the green energy industry, in her newest job as CEO of Harvest Power. She looks forward to applying her knowledge and skills to a company working to provide sustainable energy.

Prior to this position, she's been a trailblazer in the automotive industry, moving up the ranks first at General Motors, and then at Ford Motor Company where she was a vice president. She's been a CEO for Tower Automotive, GS Motors, and Next Autoworks as well, before becoming an operating partner with Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers.

"I really love the mission of Harvest Power," Ligocki said. "It's trying to solve one of society's big issues. The idea that we owe society a sustainable future is something I believe. As I get older, I feel it is our responsibility to leave a better world for the next generation."

She sees tremendous opportunities available to recycle organic waste into clean energy and products, with the increased awareness of alternatives to dumping it in landfills.

The company uses anaerobic digestion to convert organic waste, such as discarded food and yard trimmings, into mulches and fertilizers, and also captures and sells energy created during the process.

"We're coming full circle, taking the discards of society and creating value out of it, converting energy back to the grid, and really nourishing our soils," Ligocki said. "What would take weeks and weeks to compost if you threw it in your back yard, now takes about a week. "

Harvest Power, founded five years ago, employs more than 600 people at nearly 40 sites, has built and operates three Energy Garden anaerobic digesters, processes more than two million tons of organic wastes per year, sells 33 million bags of soil and mulches across North America, and produces and markets millions of cubic yards of compost based soil, mulches, and natural fertilizers.

Ligocki, a Kokomo native, replaces company founder Paul Sellew, who now serves as executive chairman of the board. He said Ligocki has the skills to lead the company into the next phase of its growth plan.

"Kathleen Ligocki brings the right combination of bold strategic insight, broad operational expertise across a number of industry sectors, and financial acumen that will propel Harvest to the next level," he said. "I am pleased and excited by the prospect of working with her."

Ligocki is a long-time supporter of IU Kokomo, especially of its overseas study programs. She founded the Kathleen Ligocki International Travel Studies Travel Program in 2008, which provides financial assistance for students to participate in travel experiences. She is a member of the IU Kokomo Alumni Association Hall of Fame, received an honorary degree from the campus in 2002, and serves on the IU Foundation Board.

"Kathy provides IU Kokomo students an excellent example of what they can accomplish with a degree from our campus," said Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke. "She continues to excel and lead in her field, while giving back to our students. Her generous contributions to our student international travel scholarship fund and the Milt and Jean Cole Family Fitness and Wellness Center impact our students every day. We extend our congratulations to Kathy on her new appointment."

Ligocki called her self "a huge believer in the regional campuses at IU," based on her experiences at IU Kokomo.

"The relationships you have at a regional campus is more like a family," she said. "I had access to people I would have seen from afar on a big campus. I was never taught by a teaching assistant. I had professors teach all of my classes. They were available to us outside of class. The access I had at IU Kokomo was just tremendous."

In addition to her B.A. in liberal studies from IU Kokomo, Ligocki earned a master's degree in business from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — An Indiana University Kokomo Alumni Association (IUKAA) Scholarship gives Brittany Royer a chance to focus on academics and student activities.

Old Ben 5K Run/WalkOld Ben 5K Run/Walk"I truly value the opportunities this scholarship gives me," she said. "Studying to earn good grades takes a lot of time. This scholarship is a blessing, because it provides time to study, rather than work, and to be involved on campus. I truly value the opportunities this scholarship makes possible."

Local runners can help provide those scholarships, by participating in the annual Old Ben 5K Run/Walk, which steps off at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 8, at Highland Park. Online registration is open through Friday, February 28, at iuk.edu/oldben

Greater participation in the last few years means increased scholarships for students like Royer, a senior from Rossville.

"We used to give one $500 scholarship annually," said Ryan Bowman, director of alumni relations and campus ceremonies. "Now we can give five $750 scholarships each year. We appreciate our sponsors and our participants, who make that possible."

Royer maintains a 3.8 GPA and serves as vice president of the Student Alumni Association, and said the scholarship makes those possible.

Student body President Brian Arwood, Peru, also appreciates the support from an IUKAA scholarship.

"The IU Kokomo Alumni Association relieved a tremendous burden, and allowed me to focus on my classes, rather than how I was going to pay for college," he said. "I'm able to devote more time and attention to school, student organizations, and my family."

New to the event this year is Kingston's Kid Run, a one-fifth mile run for children 10 and younger, which starts at 8:30 a.m. Mascot Kingston Cougar plans to be there to encourage the kids in this run, Bowman said.

"The kids' run makes this a fun family event, and also promotes healthy lifestyles," Bowman said. "This starts a great tradition for many local running families to get their children involved while they are young."

The Old Ben 5K Walk/Run is the primary fundraiser for the IUKAA scholarships. Entry is $10 for the kids' run, and $15 for the 5K walk or run. Race day registration begins at 7:30 a.m., and is $20.

First Farmers Bank & Trust is presenting sponsor for the Old Ben 5K Run/Walk. Community Howard Regional Health sponsors Kingston's Kids Run. Additional sponsors are Golitko & Daly, the City of Kokomo, Kokomo Tribune, Hoosier AM/FM Radio Kokomo, and Regions Insurance.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Sandi Giver's heart for helping those in greatest need takes her to places most people fear to go.

Sandi GiverSandi GiverShe's lived without electricity and water in war-torn Uganda, providing a mother's love to teen girls rebuilding lives shattered by civil war. In the slums of India, she ministered to women forced into prostitution, helping them into dignified employment that allows them to escape poverty.

And she did all of this before her 28th birthday.

"I feel like my life sounds pretty intense to other people," Giver said. "To me, it's simple acts of kindness, and simple things nobody talks about, taking care of populations that are overlooked or people haven't talked about. I have taken extra effort to find them, or it's come across my path, and I've learned more. Anyone can do it, you just have to put the effort towards it."

Her bachelor's degree from Indiana University Kokomo made this possible, she says, teaching her the value of hard work, and providing leadership experiences in student government, Student Union Board, and speech and debate.

She was a full time student and held full time jobs, which let her pay her tuition and living expenses without student loans. After graduating, she was free to seek out the overseas volunteer experiences she dreamed of, rather than having to find a job to pay off college debt.

"I've always wanted to go overseas, and to experience something unlike America, where I could get to know the people, the issues, and how I could successfully empower them," she said. "IU Kokomo made that possible, because I wasn't financially in debt when I graduated."

She's now using her knowledge to prepare future Peace Corps volunteers to be safe while serving overseas, working for the Peace Corps Office of Safety and Security in Washington D.C.

Giver, from Peru, earned a degree in general studies, with a concentration on social and behavioral sciences, in 2008. After graduation, she spent four months in India, with Word Made Flesh, a faith-based organization that helps women escape brothels and find jobs with dignity.

She then served 27 months with the Peace Corps in Uganda, living in a primitive refugee camp, with no electricity. Giver taught life skills, communications, and relationship skills to young women in the camp, and helped many of them cope with post-traumatic stress disorder, from being displaced or abducted during civil war.

"Going to a post conflict zone was so much different, when it came to building trust, and living in the camp," she said. "At the same time, I was able to build relationships with my girls, and with my teachers. I was able to learn more than someone who was in Uganda for two weeks. There were definitely some hardships, but I am thankful for the experience, and the work I was able to do in the community."

In her current job with the Peace Corps, Giver develops procedures, policies, and training to help volunteers reduce their risk of being sexually assaulted, or a crime victim. She also trains and equips staff to respond when a staff member is a crime victim.

"This is my first office job," she said. "Right now, it's good to be where I am, in a cube, outside of the chaos. Now I can step back and work on issues a little less directly. My heart has been, and is still, to work with marginalized people, when they don't have a voice. "

Giver plans to earn a master's degree in social work, preparing to work in community awareness and advocacy. She also would like to go overseas again at some point.

"I want to go when the moment is right," she said. "It might take a little time. I also see the value of working on issues at home, and in America."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — The Indiana University Kokomo Alumni Association celebrates Homecoming, by inducting its first class into the IUKAA Hall of Fame

IUKL3065-10002013 IUKAA Hall of Fame awards.

The Hall of Fame brunch, honoring Chuck Bucheri, Judy Golitko, Alex Huskey, Eva White, and John Wisler, kicks off Homecoming day activities, starting with a reception at 9 a.m., and a chicken and waffles brunch at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, November 23, in Alumni Hall. All alumni are encouraged to wear IU Kokomo or IU spirit wear for the event.

"We encourage all of our alumni to come celebrate the accomplishments of some of our most deserving graduates," said Interim Chancellor Sciame-Giesecke. "It is also a great chance to reconnect with IU Kokomo and see what's happening on campus."

The brunch also includes the alumni Hall of Fame induction. Ryan Bowman, Director of Alumni Relations, said in past years, the association honored one Distinguished Alumni Award winner during commencement. The new Hall of Fame replaces that award, and allows more deserving graduates to earn recognition. He anticipates adding between three and five new members each year.

"We have an outstanding first class, who are great representatives of IU Kokomo, and what you can do with a degree from our campus," Bowman said.

All previous Distinguished Alumni Award winners are included in the new Hall of Fame, and are invited to attend the event.

Following brunch, alumni are invited to the new IU Kokomo gym in downtown Kokomo, to cheer for the Cougar men's basketball team as they take on conference foe Point Park in the Homecoming game.

Brunch tickets are $10 each, and include a reception and brunch. Basketball tickets are $5 each. To purchase ticket for either or both events, go to www.myiuaa.com/IUK-HallofFame.

The first class of IU Kokomo Alumni Association Hall of Fame members are:

• Robert Charles "Chuck" Bucheri: Chuck Bucheri considered himself to be an IU Kokomo alumnus, because he started his college education here. At the time, it did not offer a four-year degree in business, so he completed it in Indianapolis. He served on the campus advisory board, and was a long-time supporter of IU Kokomo. He was a certified public accountant, and was a senior partner in the accounting firm of Bucheri, McCarty, and Metz in Kokomo. He was active in the local community and a generous benefactor to many causes. He passed away in May, and will be represented by his family at the induction.

• Judy Golitko: Judy worked more than 30 years as a paralegal before enrolling at IU Kokomo to fulfill her dream of being a nurse. She earned her associate degree in nursing in 2001, and then worked as a medical-surgical nurse while completing her bachelor's degree in nursing in 2003. Golitko then enrolled at IU's Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, earning her law degree in 2006 and successfully passing the Indiana Bar at age 59. She combines her nursing and law education as a disability attorney at Golitko Daly PC. She has served as a guest lecturer in the School of Nursing, and will serve as an adjunct faculty member starting in January. Golitko is currently president of the IU Kokomo Alumni Association, having served on its board more than 10 years. She received the President's Award, the highest honor given to an alumni volunteer, in 2010.

• Alex D. Huskey: Alex currently serves as chairman of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, and is an ordained minister, serving as pastor of the New Bethany Church of God in Christ, Marion. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1983-1993. When he left active duty, he enrolled at IU Kokomo, and earned a bachelor's degree in general studies. Later, he returned to campus to earn a Master of Public Management degree in 2010. He had a distinguished career with the Marion Police Department, where he was deputy chief. In 2004, he was the first African American appointed superintendent of the Indiana Excise Police, a position he held until former Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed him to his current position with the alcohol and tobacco commission. Daniels also honored him with the Governor's Distinguished Service Medal in 2013.

• Eva White: Eva earned her undergraduate degree from IU Kokomo in 1994, and also won the outstanding humanities student award. White is now an associate professor of English at IU Kokomo, and recently was honored as one of IU's best, as winner of the Herman Frederic Lieber Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. She's also received the IU Kokomo Claude Rich Award, which is the highest honor given on campus; and twice received the IU Kokomo Trustees' Teaching Award. She also founded the campus literary magazine, From the Well House, created IU's only Irish studies minor, and redesigned the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program. She has taught more than 25 different courses during her six years at IU Kokomo, both in the classroom and through online and hybrid instruction, which combines online and classroom experiences.

• John Wisler: Dr. John A. Wisler is a toxicologist certified by the American Board of Toxicology. He has more than 25 years of experience in toxicology research and drug development. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from IU Kokomo in 1978, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology from the IU School of Medicine in 1982. He earned a doctoral degree in toxicology from the IU School of Medicine in 1988. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the National Research Council at the U.S. Army Institute of Chemical Defense, Baltimore. He is scientific director in toxicology and drug safety at Amgen Pharmaceuticals, Thousand Oaks, Calif. He has worked with companies including Allergan and Procter and Gamble, and also was president of the American Board of Toxicology. He has been married 35 years to Sandra Wisler, RN, BSN, CCRN, who is also an IU Kokomo graduate. They have two children, Brandon and Megan.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members potentially saved more than 200 lives this week, rolling up their sleeves to donate 73 units of blood.

Blood DriveMatthew Roller donates blood.As a health sciences student, sophomore Ashley Miller knows the critical need for those donations, which is why she volunteered to plan and work at the annual IU Kokomo Alumni Association blood drive this week.

"I learned from the Red Cross that every unit donated can save three lives," she said. "Every one of our donors made a difference today, and we are thankful for them."

Ryan Bowman, director of alumni relations, was pleased the drive surpassed his goal of 66 units.

"We appreciate all of our donors, and their willingness to help the Red Cross," Bowman said. "I am also proud of our Student Alumni Association members, who planned and directed today's successful blood drive."

The thought of saving someone else's life is what made freshman Michalea Angle decide to donate for the first time. She admitted to being a little afraid at first, but "it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be."

Angle, from Logansport, plans to give blood again in the future.

Sophomore Lauren Kayser makes a habit of donating.

"It makes me proud when I get the little pin that says, 'I gave blood,'" she said. "It reminds me why I want to be a nurse, because giving blood saves lives."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Jim Willis leaves this month for the adventure of a lifetime. He will spend the next 27 months at Republic of Macedonia as a Peace Corps volunteer, where he hopes to teach some of that country's leaders conflict resolution and organizational skills.

CC0A0964Alumnus Jim Willis

Willis, 69, graduated from Indiana University Kokomo in 1972, where he gained a foundation that prepared him for a successful career and what he expects to be an unforgettable journey.

"The values I learned from the liberal studies program are values I'm fully coming to appreciate," Willis said. "IU Kokomo was small enough to give me a sense of community with the faculty and students. Chancellor Victor Bogle's vision made it a special place to be, and it gave me a clear set of values that could be trusted in the greater world."

Willis will spend 27 months in Macedonia, which was formerly part of Yugoslavia. It is on the central Balkan Peninsula, in southeastern Europe. He will spend the first two months learning the language, culture, and history, before being deployed to his work site. He anticipates working with a non-governmental organization, teaching them skills they need as they petition for the country to become part of the European Union.

"I couldn't be happier with the location or assignment," he said, adding that he will definitely be among the older volunteers. "Most of them are in the 20s and 30s. I'm old enough to remember when President Kennedy started this program."

He added, though, that he is still younger than Lillian Carter, mother of former President Jimmy Carter, who joined in her 80s.

Willis has fond memories of his days as an IU Kokomo student. He moved to Kokomo after graduating from high school in Logansport, and worked at Continental Steel and JC Penney, among other jobs. He studied sciences on the Seiberling Mansion campus.

"I was a poor kid who wanted to go to school," he said. "Looking back, it's romantic, but it was hard at the time."

He attended from 1962 to 1966, and then transferred to Bloomington to complete his degree. However, shortly after, he received his draft notice and could not get a student deferment since he had been in school four years without earning a degree.

He enlisted in the Army to study ground air missile defense, and was sent to Germany – a NATO missile site.

When he returned to IU Kokomo, the campus had moved to its current location on South Washington Street.

After earning his bachelor's degree in liberal studies, he worked in human relations, staff development, and other jobs that involved helping people improve themselves and their skills. Along the way, he earned a Master of Public Affairs degree at IU South Bend, and later a Ph.D. in communication from Purdue University.

He later became interested in Gestalt Counseling Theory, which focuses on here-and-now experiences and personal responsibility. It's objective is to free people from unfinished issues that may impact their lives, and relies on a long relationship between the client and therapist. He trained at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, and later used it as the basis of his doctoral dissertation.

He looks forward to additional training at the Gestalt Institute in Skopje while he is in Macedonia, and to sightseeing.

"Macedonia has possibly two of the oldest lakes in the world, that are designated a world heritage site," he said. "Skopje, the capital was the cultural center of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. It's just going to be a smorgasbord of history and culture."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Cathy Valcke lives cream and crimson, as a passionate Indiana University supporter.

2013 Alumni Past Presidents DinnerJudy Golitko presents Cathy Valcke with the Distinguished Service Award.The Indiana University Kokomo Alumni Association recently rewarded her many years of dedication with its Distinguished Service Award. She began her career at IU Kokomo in April 1998, as director of alumni relations and public affairs. In June 2010, she became director of human resources, a position she continues to hold in addition to serving as interim vice chancellor for the Office of Advancement and Public Affairs.

Amanda Shoultz, immediate past president, could not think of a more deserving recipient.

"Cathy Valcke is a shining example of dedication and service to her campus, her university, and her community," she said. "Her passion for all things IU runs deep, and is part of the fabric that is IU Kokomo. There are few names that top the list when thinking of those who have molded IU Kokomo into what it is today, and her name is atop that list."

Bob Hayes, a former alumni association president, said Valcke encouraged him to take leadership roles in the association, and was his mentor as president.

"Cathy has always been a combination of compassion, dedication, and professionalism," he said. "She made being a board member easy, as she always made us look like we knew what we were doing, and were doing it well."

Valcke is thankful for and humbled by the honor.

"It's a good feeling to know I've been of service," she said "There's no way I will ever be able to repay what IU Kokomo has given me."

Valcke earned a bachelor's degree in communication arts from IU Kokomo, as well as a Master of Science in higher education administration and student affairs from IU.

She won the Outstanding Administrator of the Year award in 2000, and the Don Lane Service Award in 2003. She has served as president and vice president of the professional staff council.

In the community, Valcke is a member of the United Way of Howard County Board of Directors, was on the development council for the Congregation of St. Joseph in Tipton, graduated from Leadership Kokomo, and volunteers with the Family Service Association of Howard County.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — More than 100 Indiana University Kokomo alumni, faculty, staff, and friends attended a reception celebrating the first-ever Homecoming, as well as a visit by IU President Michael A. McRobbie and the Board of Trustees.

Alumni ReceptionIU President Michael A. McRobbie gestures to a "Complete in 4" banner as one of the ways IU Kokomo is promoting on-time graduation of students.McRobbie updated those attending on progress being made throughout the university and on the Kokomo campus, and thanked them for their support.

"This kind of progress I have described this evening could not happen without the dedicated and generous support of the alumni, faculty, students, staff, and friends of Indiana University," he said. "Your dedication and generosity have left an indelible mark on the university and are testament to the true strength of this great institution. Working together, we will continue to achieve our goals of true excellence in education and research."

McRobbie highlighted just a few recent accomplishments, including the summer tuition discount, which resulted in a nearly 12 percent increase in IU Kokomo's summer enrollment; the on-time graduation award that offsets increases in tuition and fees for juniors and seniors who are on track to graduate in four years, and creation of several new schools, including the School of Public Health, the School of Philanthropy, and the School of Global and International Studies.

At Kokomo, he noted the record-setting fall enrollment of more than 3,700 students, and the first season of athletic competition in the NAIA.

"All of these gains are a result of the strategic planning that has been done on campus, and the implementation of those plans, and the entire campus deserves our congratulations," McRobbie said.

Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke thanked those who attended, reminding them their support is needed to keep the campus moving forward. She encouraged everyone to look at plans for the Milt and Jean Cole Family Wellness and Fitness Center and the student courtyard.

"The momentum is continuing," she said. "Our students are so excited; they can't wait to use the fitness center. We appreciate the support and partnerships that are making these facilities possible for IU Kokomo and for our students."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — The Indiana University Kokomo Alumni Association (IUKAA) invites you to come save three lives, with a donation of a pint of blood, on Wednesday, October 3, in the Kelley Student Center, room 130.

IU Kokomo Alumni Blood Drive 1IU Kokomo Alumni Blood Drive"Every pint of blood donated saves three lives," said Ryan Bowman, director of alumni relations and campus ceremonies. "We hope to be able to save hundreds of lives through the contributions of IU Kokomo's students, faculty, staff, and alumni."

The IUKAA is teaming up with the Howard-Tipton Chapter of the American Red Cross to collect at least 70 units of blood. The blood drive will take place from noon to 6 p.m., and appointments can be scheduled online at www.redcrossblood.org, or in person from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. now through Friday, September 28, outside the bookstore.

Nationwide, someone needs a unit of blood every two to three seconds, and most people will need blood during their lifetime.

The IUKAA and Red Cross will provide drinks and snacks during the blood drive.

For more information, call Gail Daggett at 765-455-9457, or e-mail gdagget@iuk.edu.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Amber (Gailey) Cargile witnessed death and destruction "on a biblical scale," as one of the first humanitarian workers in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Amber Cargile to receive Distinguished Alumni AwardAmber Cargile

She was part of a multinational response team letting the world know what the Haitian people needed and how to help, and said it was one of the most meaningful deployments in her 20-year Air Force career.

Indiana University Kokomo will honor Cargile, 43, for her humanitarian service and military career with its Distinguished Alumni Award. She will receive the award at Commencement, on Tuesday, May 8.

"It was a humbling experience. You come out of it thankful for what you have, where you come from, and the opportunities you've had, " said Cargile, a 1990 graduate with a bachelor's degree in social and behavioral science. "I don't know that I've worked as hard anywhere else, but the rewards were immense. To know I was part of that initial group that came down and was helping steer the ship in the right direction was very rewarding."

Chancellor Michael Harris congratulated Cargile on the award.

"Amber Cargile represents the excellence we can expect of IU Kokomo graduates who receive a world-class education," Harris said. "I am grateful for her service to our country. This award is well-deserved."

Amanda Shoultz, president of the IU Kokomo Alumni Association, said the alumni board chose Cargile because of her military career and current job as spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Arizona District.

"She has used the leadership skills and knowledge gained as a student at IU Kokomo to make the world a better place through her impressive military career," Shoultz said.

Cargile said she was surprised and honored to be chosen for the award.

"My liberal arts education at IU Kokomo really gave me a foundation and prepared me to do just about anything. I learned critical thinking and writing, and had a broad-based understanding of how things work. Those skills have helped me throughout my career."

Cargile worked in radio after graduating from IU Kokomo, and then enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Officer Training School. Her military career included serving as head of the communications team in Guam doing humanitarian relief after the Asian tsunami in 2005, and as deputy spokeswoman for U.S. forces in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

She said her degree from IU Kokomo has been an asset to her throughout her career. After transferring from a larger private college, she cherishes the relationships she formed while on campus.

"You get a world-class Indiana University degree, but with smaller, more personal classes. Our professors cared about us not just in the classroom, but also as people," Cargile said. "You just don't get that at a larger campus. That is one of the gems IU Kokomo has to offer. It's more than book learning, it's the whole person."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.