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IU Kokomo employee teaches life lessons by example

May 31, 2013
KOKOMO, Ind. — Not all of life's lessons are learned in a classroom.

Physical Plant staff member, Dave Hawkins.Physical Plant staff member, Dave Hawkins.

At Indiana University Kokomo, David Hawkins teaches perseverance, work ethic, community service, and determination to overcome obstacles by example, as he goes about his work as coordinator of special projects for physical plant.

For many years, he was the singing voice of IU Kokomo, performing at Commencement and other campus events. But in 2010, he lost his singing voice during cancer treatment, and did not know if it would return, even after he was cancer free.

"I couldn't sing through my radiation, and then after treatment, I didn't have my singing voice, which worried me," he said. "It took a while, but it finally came back, just a little lower than it used to be. It was definitely something I was glad to get back. Singing is my comfort zone. I could never imagine my life without it."

Hawkins continued to work during treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, demonstrating courage and perseverance to those around him. He was grateful for understanding supervisors and colleagues, who let him rest when he needed to, and supported him through treatment. He plans to give back by starting an IU Kokomo Relay for Life team for the 2014 event.

"Sometimes things are hard, and you don't like what's ahead of you, but you do what you have to do, and do it the best you can," he said. "With the student workers, I try to teach them to take responsibility for their jobs, do them to the best of their ability, and take initiative to solve problems."

Jacob Faust, a student employee who graduated in May, appreciates the opportunity to have worked with Hawkins.

"Dave may not be a professor who taught me important concepts in accounting, but he showed me a work ethic I plan to take with me to future jobs," he said.

John Sarber, director of physical facilities, said Hawkins is a hard worker with a long history on campus.

"Dave is very conscientious about his work," he said. "He communicates with the departments he is working with well, and helps find solutions to any issues and problems. He knows and remembers so much about the campus, the people, and its history. He has also been a great inspiration to our student workers and athletes."

Hawkins began his career at IU Kokomo in August 1989, when the Kelley Student Center was built.

"If you like a job, you end up sticking with it," he said. "This has been a good fit for me and for my skills. My supervisors know they can depend on me, and they trust me to do my job right. I appreciate that trust."

He continues to improve his vocal abilities by singing at church and training with the Kokomo Men of Note barbershop harmony organization. One of his favorite activities is performing singing Valentines each year with his quartet.

"When you get to share that with someone, it's almost like you got the gift too," he said. "It's rewarding to do that kind of singing and touch people in that way."

Family also keeps him busy, with four children at home. He coaches softball, provides care for his mother, and volunteers to help others in his community with home repairs.

"I enjoy home maintenance and fixing things, and I'm glad to give a hand to someone else," he said. "It's one way I can return the gifts God gave me."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 09/02/2014