KOKOMO, Ind. — Four Indiana University Kokomo alumni join a distinguished group of graduates recognized for community service, professional accomplishments and service to the campus.
Dr. Kathleen Golightly, John Hughey, George Plotner, and Tom Sugar all were inducted into the IU Kokomo Alumni Hall of Fame Saturday, November 22, as part of Homecoming.
Plotner, B.A. ’73, said IU Kokomo opened the doors to a successful business career, giving him an opportunity to earn a college degree while working on his family farm.
“IU Kokomo is a very integral and important part of my life development, and my personal development,” he said. “The educational experience provided me with an essential key for me to begin my career.”
He founded his own executive search company, MRC Staffing Solutions, in 1995.
“Without my experience at IU Kokomo, I would not have had that opportunity,” he said. “I grew up on a farm in Miami County, and I was the first member of my family to go to college and graduate from college. It was a huge achievement for me, and a milestone for my family.”
After attending college on two others campuses, Sugar, B.A. ’02, came home to Kokomo, and enrolled on campus to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. Mentoring from Professor Allen Maxwell, led him to a major in history and political science.
“Ultimately, I decided if I do something I’m passionate about, I’ll be successful,” he said. “IU Kokomo is a great place to figure that out. The smaller class sizes, with devoted faculty, make all the difference in moments like that.”
After a successful career in politics, which included serving as Senator Evan Bayh’s chief of staff, he co-founded Complete College America, a non-profit that works to improve college completion rates. While he anticipates returning to politics at some point, he enjoys working with leaders in government and higher education, and feels they’re making progress.
“We are making a difference,” he said. “We’re seeing remediation rates improving, and we’re moving the needle on college completion rates. It’s a much more gratifying experience doing in through these means rather than slogging it out in Congress.”
Golightly, B.A. ’88, worked as a nurse while earning her degree in biological and physical sciences at IU Kokomo. Her professors Robert Roales and Marcia Gillette were especially influential to her.
“I would not be where I am now if I had landed at any other college,” she said. “It was just so personal, and such a positive experience. I was at the Muncie campus for the first two years of medical school. I was competing with people who got their degrees from Anderson, and Wabash, and a lot of different colleges, and I was well-prepared.”
Working in medicine allowed her a flexible schedule as she and her husband raised their two sons.
“This field has allowed me a lot of autonomy, so I could keep my priority of family first,” she said. “I have wonderful patients. Being an internist, I see the same people, three or four generations of the same family. The patients are key.”
Hughey, A.S. ’76, B.S. ’81, became a health care professional at IU Kokomo, and then returned first to teach in radiology, and then to lead development efforts for the Division of Allied Health Sciences, one of the campus’ fastest-growing programs. As chairperson of the Division of Allied Health Sciences, he’s been instrumental in bringing degree programs in radiography, medical imaging technology, and health sciences to campus.
“I’ve been able to mentor my students, who then provide health care to people in our region and beyond,” he said. “It is gratifying to watch them progress and learn what it takes to be a competent, compassionate clinician. I have a sense of pride when I see them as the leaders in our field.”
The Hall of Fame replaces the Distinguished Alumni Award, formerly given during Commencement, and allows for more graduates to be recognized.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.