Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo's School of Nursing and Division of Allied Health Sciences honored its graduates on Thursday (May 8) with the annual recognition and pinning ceremonies.

The School of Nursing Pinning - 2014The School of Nursing Pinning. For nursing pictures, click here. For allied health pictures, click here.

The School of Nursing honored 97 R.N. to B.S.N students, as well as 36 Bachelor of Science in Nursing students, during its pinning ceremony. The Division of Allied Health Sciences recognized 17 Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Technology and 10 Associate of Science in Radiography graduates.

Marion residents Michael and Shelly Backs were among the R.N. to B.S.N. graduates who received their pins, in a ceremony in Havens Auditorium. As they crossed the stage, a little voice called out, "I love you, Grandma and Grandpa," from the audience.

The couple earned associate degrees in nursing when their daughters were toddlers, and then returned to complete their bachelor's degree in the last year. They were thrilled to have their family with them for the big moment.

"This is such an accomplishment for us," Mike Backs said. "Going back to school has really revved up our brains." Shelly Backs said her husband was initially reluctant to return to school, but now they are glad to have this experience together.

"It's been wonderful," she said. "We could not have asked for a better experience."

For Suzan Ferguson, Kokomo, graduation is the realization of a long-held dream.

"I always wanted to be a nurse, but life took me in a different direction," she said. Ferguson went back to school when her son, Joshua, reached middle school, to prepare to reenter the workforce. She previously earned an associate degree and took a job at IU Health Tipton Hospital, where she worked while completing the R.N. to B.S.N. program.

"I'm relieved, and excited to have reached this goal," she said. "IU Kokomo was a great place to get my degree, and I will wear my pin proudly."

The nursing students chose Joyce Hollingsworth, lecturer in nursing, as their speaker. She recalled her own graduation from IU Kokomo, and the pride she and her mother, also a nurse, felt on that day. She encouraged the graduates to represent nurses and IU Kokomo in the best way possible.

"They're compassionate and knowledgeable, and they're going to go out in the world and make it a better place, and take care of you and me," she said. "Stay true to yourself, and if you do, happiness and success will follow you your whole career."

Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke congratulated the graduates. She noted than in Indiana, only 19 percent of people have a college degree.

"You are one of the few who have spent the time and the effort to reach this goal. It will open all kinds of doors for you," she said. "Your studies have helped you become the person you are, and the person you are going to be."

Patricia Davis, clinical liaison, honored the allied health graduates, which included the 10th graduating class from the associate degree program.

"The transformation we have seen in each of you is amazing," she said. "It is with great pride that we welcome all of you as professional peers."

Courtney Perez, Kokomo, had plenty to celebrate – not only did she earn an Associate of Science in Radiography degree, but she received a job offer this week.

"It doesn't feel real yet," she said. "I appreciate being able to earn this degree in such a great program, close to home. With the small class sizes, you get to know your classmates. That makes it really personal."

She plans to return to campus to earn a Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Technology.

David Brinkley, Kokomo, also plans to return for the bachelor's degree program.

"It feels good to have this part of it behind me," he said about the associate degree program. "Now I just have to pass my certification test, which is the day after graduation, and then look for a job. This has been a great program."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Kathy Parkison will witness history as it happens, representing the United States as an election monitor in Ukraine.

Kathy ParkisonKathy Parkison

Parkison, Indiana University Kokomo's interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, leaves May 19 to observe the May 25 elections in the eastern European country. Ukraine's parliament voted in February to remove its president and call for an early presidential election after the November 2013 revolution. The presidential election had been scheduled for 2015.

Monitoring an election is no vacation — it is a week of exhausting travel, staying in homes in remote areas, possibly with no running water or electricity, and working in potentially volatile conditions. In one country where she monitored, a polling place was firebombed just minutes before she and her co-monitor arrived.

However, Parkison, who has observed elections in Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Macedonia, Moldova, and twice in Kyrgyzstan, welcomes the opportunity to serve.

"This volunteer work allows me to see parts of the world I otherwise would not see, and to show my commitment to the democratic process," she said. "It's a short-term opportunity for me to help out in the world."

She's watched news reports from Ukraine closely since her selection, as civil unrest has continued and worsened, particularly in pro-Russian eastern Ukraine.

"If it's too unsafe, they won't send us," she said. "They're not going to put people at risk."

After arriving in Kiev, Ukraine's capitol, Parkison and her fellow observers, including her husband Rob Pfaff, who is assistant vice president of academic affairs at Saint Joseph's College, will spend a day in briefings with the Organization for Security in Europe (OSCE) and the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), before receiving their assignments. Each person is paired with someone of the opposite gender, and from a different country, before traveling to assigned regions.

"The idea is that men and women see different things," she said. "We'll travel to our region, spend a day driving around looking at billboards, looking out for voter intimidation, and signs of fraud. We'll work out a plan of action for the next day."

As an election monitor, Parkison will open polling places, looking to be sure the ballot box is empty when the election begins, and that ballots have not been pre-filled. She will visit multiple polling sites, and choose one to monitor closely. She will watch as ballots are counted, and then as ballots are taken to a central election site, where she will make sure the count stayed the same.

"You do not intervene," she said. "You just document, document, document, and turn those results in during and after the election."

The day after the election, Parkison will return to Kiev for debriefing, then fly home to Indiana.

As a volunteer, her travel expenses are paid, and she receives a daily stipend to cover transportation, lodging, and food.

"I have stayed in some interesting hovels," she said, recalling one where the only bed left was on the floor, because she was last to arrive. That worked out, because those who slept in real beds found them to be infested with fleas.

"You see the way people really live, and you hope you leave a good impression of Americans."

She's always been posted to remote, rural locations, including a region in Azerbaijan that is "as close as you can get to Iran without being in Iran," and another region where she ate lunch by a river, and then waded in, stepping into parts of three countries.

"I have literally moved cows to get into a polling place," Parkison said, laughing. "I'm an Indiana farm girl, so I'm OK with that."

Officially, she represents the U.S. Department of State as an election monitor. The U.S. Agency for International Development, the OSCE and the ODIHR are sponsoring organizations in this monitoring effort. The groups monitor elections in nations all over the world, including in the United States.

"The idea is to prevent another world war," Parkison said.

She plans to continue following news from Ukraine after the election.

"An election is just the beginning of democracy," she said. "There has to be rule of law, and an agreement by everyone to follow the law. It's not just elections that count. It's what happens after the election. This is just step one of the democratic process."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Stargazers should have an excellent view of the planets at the Indiana University Kokomo Observatory's free open house Sunday.

The ObservatoryThe Observatory

Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn are all above the horizon at sunset, and will be joined by a waxing gibbous moon, according to Patrick Motl, assistant professor of physics.

The open house begins at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 11, and continues until 10 p.m., weather permitting, in the Observatory, 105 E. Rebecca Lane.

Motl will begin the open house with discussion of recent results from the BICEP2 mission at the South Pole, which detected polarization features in the cosmic microwave background that indicate the universe had a phase of rapid expansion, called inflation, in its very early history.

"As part of telling the story of BICEP2 results, I will discuss the big bang cosmological model, and motivations for its extension to the inflationary big bang model," said Motl.

After the talk, participants may view the planets through the Observatory's telescopes, which include a six-inch Takahashi refracting telescope and a 16-inch Meade reflecting telescope mounted together. The Takahashi provides exceptionally sharp images of planets, while the Meade allows viewers to see fainter objects in the sky, due to its larger light collecting area.

The open house is free and open to the public, and free parking is available on campus.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — A record number of 599 graduates will be celebrated at Indiana University Kokomo's Commencement, as IU President Michael A. McRobbie will confer 606 degrees.

2013 Commencement2013 Commencement

The ceremony is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 13, at the Pavilion, with Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke presenting the graduating class.

"Commencement is the highlight of the year for all of us at Indiana University," Sciame-Giesecke said. "Our students have worked hard, and we look forward to celebrating their accomplishments."

Nearly 40 percent of the graduates are first-generation college students. They represent 31 Indiana counties, nine states, and nine countries. Fifty-nine students are earning master's degrees. Another 536 are earning bachelor's degrees, while 11 will receive associate degrees. Some students earned more than one degree.

The School of Nursing has the largest number of graduates, with 174 earning bachelor's degrees. It also will recognize the first graduates from its Master of Science in Nursing program. The second most frequent degree being awarded is the Bachelor of General Studies, with 77. This brings the total number of graduates from IU Kokomo to 12,450.

Shaina Shirar, a senior majoring in history and political science, will represent the graduates as class speaker. Shirar, of Frankfort, serves as student body vice president of programming.

During the ceremony, Sergio Marchionne, chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group LLC and CEO of Fiat S.p.A., will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, the highest academic recognition IU can bestow. He will address the graduating class.

If inclement weather is expected, an announcement will be made in the evening on Monday, May 12. Two ceremonies, then, will be conducted indoors at Havens Auditorium, beginning at 10:30 a.m., and will include graduates of the School of Nursing, Division of Allied Health, and School of Education. The second ceremony, at 1:30 p.m., will include graduates from the School of Sciences, School of Business, and School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Outdoor ceremonies are open to the public, with seating in the Hunt Hall parking lot. Those attending ceremonies in Havens Auditorium must have a ticket. Graduates received tickets with their caps and gowns. Free parking is available on campus.

Commencement can be viewed via live streaming on the campus website at iuk.edu.

For more information, go to iuk.edu and click on the Countdown to Commencement button.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — The Indiana University Kokomo Art Gallery features its first-ever show created by senior fine arts students.

Senior Thesis Art ShowChancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke stands with Nicole Brubaker and Minda Douglas. See more pictures on Flickr.

Eight students are showcased in the Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition, which continues through Saturday, May 17, in the Art Gallery.

Susan Skoczen, art gallery director, said five of the students are receiving the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree, with two earning the Bachelor of Arts degree. An additional senior, who minored in creative arts, also will have work in the gallery.

In previous years, thesis work was featured in the annual student exhibit, but this year, with the largest number of seniors ever to participate, all the gallery space was needed for their exhibit.

"This is the chance for seniors to put together their first body of work, and to gain experience of what it is like to be a professional artist," Skoczen said. "From the start of deciding upon a concept for their thesis, to the research, to the physical making, and then even how to frame and install the work in the gallery, these students are doing it all."

Nicole Brubaker, a B.F.A. student from Flora, enjoyed the experience of creating a themed exhibition, something she hopes she will get to do as a working artist after she graduates.

"I've always had a passion for art," she said. "I've grown as an artist while I've been at IU Kokomo, and learned how to use art as a communication tool."

Her theme is "Isolation," and she admitted it was difficult to decide which pieces of her work complemented the theme, and which should not be included in the show.

"That's part of the learning process, because including those pieces would have thrown off my theme," she said. "I've learned to make those hard decisions, even though it's hard to see something you worked hard to create sitting at home."

The exhibition includes sculpture, painting, printmaking, mixed media, drawing and digital art.

Seniors in addition to Brubaker include William Black, Logansport; Wendy Brown, Russiaville; Daniel Speight, Kokomo; Dusti Speight, Kokomo; Theresa Stewart, Bunker Hill; and Sarah Willis, Russiaville. Bryan Crow, Kokomo, is a creative arts minor.

Admission and parking are free. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

For more information, call the IU Kokomo Art Gallery at 765-455-9523 or go to iuk.edu/gallery

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Kick off the excitement of the month of May in Indiana, with a visit to the Indianapolis 500 pace car on the Indiana University Kokomo campus.

IndyPaceCarIndianapolis 500 Festival Princess Brittany Royer rides in the race's official pace car.

500 Festival Princess Brittany Royer brings the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, to campus on Thursday, May 1, as one of the outreach projects that are the hallmark of the princess program.

"In Indiana, May means the Indianapolis 500," said Royer, a psychology major. "We invite everyone to come see the new pace car, take some pictures with it, and learn more about the race and the 500 Festival. I'm thrilled to be able to bring some of the excitement of the race to my campus."

The pace car will be on campus from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, outside the Kelley Student Center. The public is invited, and free parking is available on campus.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Dusti Speight smiles with delight as a steamroller runs over the wood block she spent 36 hours carving.

imPRESSED with ArtimPRESSED with Art. See more pictures on Flickr.

This was no accident — Speight and classmates in the advanced printmaking class at Indiana University Kokomo created their blocks, up to four feet by eight feet, to make prints using the steamroller as their press.

Just minutes before, she and four other students positioned her board on the parking lot outside the Fine Arts Building, then fought the wind to lay a sheet of muslin over it and smooth it down, adhering it to the ink. She covered that with a layer of foam and another board, and then stepped away, motioning to driver Jody Mitchell-Heath that she was ready.

"Fire in the hole," Mitchell-Heath called, slowly driving the steamroller forward. Several students stood on the top board, stepping away as the steamroller inched over it, and then backed over it for good measure.

Then it was time to lift away the board and foam, and carefully remove the muslin. Speight peeked under it for her first glimpse of the completed print, and whooped out loud.

"That's a good one," she said, helping carry it away to dry on a clothesline inside the Fine Arts Building.

Eight students, one faculty member, one alumna, and visiting artist Bryan Tisdale carved the blocks for the advanced printmaking class, taught by Minda Douglas, assistant professor of fine arts. They created designs on Photoshop, printed them in sections, and then transferred them to plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF) before carving out the parts they did not want to print. Essentially, they created large-scale stamps. Sunbelt Rentals donated use of the steamroller.

Speight, from Kokomo, plans to exhibit one of her four prints in her senior thesis show, and said campus officials want one to display in the Cole Room, in Upper Alumni Hall.

"I'm proud and excited that the school will have some of my work in its permanent collection," she said. "That's pretty cool to think something I created here will still be on campus after I graduate."

Working on such a large piece provides a good lesson in perspective, she said, adding that two of her four prints are good enough to display. They learned early in the process to slather the blocks in ink, because the muslin soaked up more than they expected, and some of the first prints were lighter than intended.

Abby White's block was one of the first to print, and she was upset at first that it was lighter than she wanted. Then she decided it went with the meaning of her piece, a print of a woman's head.

"It's all about my grandmother, who has Alzheimer's disease," she said. "It shows the chaos in her head, and how she's slipping away. This print has a lot of meaning for me."

It was a labor of love, as she spent 36 hours using a dremel and wood burner to create her design.

At a nearby table, Mark Thompson slathers turquoise ink onto his board, preparing to make his third print of the day. He was relieved the rain ended shortly before they were scheduled to begin printing, at 10 a.m.

"I woke up to the sound of rain, and I was not happy," he said.

Douglas watched the weather carefully all morning, and decided to go forward with their plans. It was windy, but clear, the entire time the class worked in the parking lot.

"These students were too excited to wait," she said. "The weather is cooperating. We've had to watch for stuff being blown onto the blocks, but it's going great. The prints look great."

Tisdale, a graduate of the IUPUI Herron School of Fine Arts, worked with the students as a visiting artist in September. When he heard about the steamroller project, he had to create his own wood block and come back.

"This is the one thing I always wanted to do, and I've never had the chance," he said. "Dreams are coming true today. This is an experience these students will never, ever forget."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo advocates for victims of domestic violence, hosting the annual Take Back the Night and Angel Walk.

Take Back the Night/Angel Walk - 2014Take Back the Night/Angel Walk. See more pictures on Flickr.

More than 300 people participated in the one-mile walk. Student organization members and teams from the community walked side-by-side, demonstrating not only support for the Family Service Association of Howard County's domestic violence shelter (FSA), but determination to end domestic violence.

Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke welcomed participants to campus, and said she is proud of the long partnership with the FSA.

"We want to encourage our students to stand, support, and advocate for something, and create change," she said. "We will not stand for domestic violence, we will make a change."

The event kicked off with a rally in Alumni Hall, with music and educational displays created by students in Allied Health, business, education, humanities, and nursing classes.

While the event had the feeling of celebration that goes with fundraising, one local resident gave a sobering reminder of the event's importance.

Doran Gwyn, who grew up in the Appalachian Mountains, said he, his mother, and his two sisters endured daily abuse from his stepfather for seven long years, because there was no shelter like the one in Howard County where they lived.

"That's what today is all about," he said. "My mother didn't have any help, anywhere to go to get away. Today is about rallying to say 'This is not OK, under any circumstances, and we should not tolerate this in our community, or anywhere else.'"

He told a harrowing story of watching his stepfather cut his mother's throat when he did not like a meal she prepared, and of dodging bullets the man shot into their trailer.

Gwyn escaped by joining the Special Forces, thinking it would give him a way to become tough.

"No one would be able to beat me or touch my mother or sisters again," he said. "We all believed if we ran, he would kill us."

His message also was one of encouragement, because he married his long time sweetheart, and has had a successful marriage of more than 30 years, breaking the cycle of abuse.

"I've spent a lifetime dealing with the effects of my childhood," he said. "I am a survivor, but more important than that, I am a striver. I was always reaching for something better. If my story can help someone else strive to be better, that's why I'm here."

Hearing Gwyn's story personalized the issue for Kory George, a junior from Peru. He participated in the walk with the campus Phi Kappa Tau colony, and said it complements their mission of being men of character.

"It is a good reminder that if we see someone in a domestic violence situation, we must have the courage to reach out and help," he said. "Now we know what resources are available to do that."

Members of the Enactus student organization volunteer at the domestic violence shelter all year, offering career preparedness workshops and organizing clothing drives for the residents. They had a table at the rally to accept clothing donations as well.

Senior Leann Cook said it is important to raise awareness of the issue.

"Domestic violence is something that isn't talked about a lot, and a lot of people think it can't happen to someone they know," she said. "We need to know the signs, and how we can help someone who is a victim. It is also a reminder that this is not acceptable behavior in our own relationships. We have the ability to make a difference."

New media student Colton Frew, who designed the event T-shirt, said IU Kokomo has a responsibility to use its large outreach to educate the community about domestic violence, and about the services offered by FSA.

"It's a great organization to help," he said.

FSA Executive Director Judy Dennis is honored to team with IU Kokomo, not just for educational opportunities, but also in fund raising efforts.

The shelter is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and expenses have been larger than usual this year because of the winter weather.

"We are meeting the need, and with your continued support, we will continue to meet the need in our community," she said.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — The Indiana University Kokomo Crescendos offer an evening of musical comedy, with its production of The Producers.

Crescendos perform "The Producers"Crescendos perform "The Producers."

Director Rick Alexander said the show represents a shift in gears for the group, which previously performed the dramas Les Miserables and Cats.

"We wanted something lighter, and something funny, for this year's production," he said.

The Producers tells the story of a down-on-his-luck Broadway producer and his accountant, who scheme to produce the worst musical ever, in order to steal the millions of dollars invested in the show by their backers. They only have one problem — their show is a smash hit.

"There is a little something to make everyone laugh, even if it is a guilty laugh," said Alexander, cautioning that the show is for an adult audience only.

Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday, May 2, and Saturday, May 3, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4, in Havens Auditorium. An additional show is set for 7 p.m. Saturday, May 10, in the Peru High School auditorium.

Admission is free. No tickets are required, and seating is first-come-first-served.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. —The Indiana University Board of Trustees approved promotions and tenure for faculty members on the Kokomo campus.

Karl BeselKarl BeselMinda DouglasMinda Douglasheath2Sarah Heathkeener2Joe Keenerkim2J.Y. Kimmotl2Patrick Motlnur2Yusuf Nursteel2Gregory Steel

To achieve this honor, faculty are evaluated on their teaching, research and creative work, and service to the campus and community.

Those promoted include:

Karl Besel, promoted to professor, public administration and health management.

Promoted to associate professor and tenure include: Minda Douglas, fine arts; Sarah Heath, history; Joe Keener, English; J.Y. Kim, accounting; Patrick Motl, physics; Yusuf Nur, business; and Gregory Steel, fine arts.

Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke congratulated all of the faculty members who earned promotions.

"IU Kokomo has a talented and dedicated faculty, who work to excel in their teaching, research, and service," she said. "Our campus has become an institution of choice for students who want to work closely with faculty members who are committed to their success."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Paintbrushes, watercolors, ink, and clay are the tools most people think of when they think of an artist.

ImPressed with Art: Art Under Pressure.ImPressed with Art: Art Under Pressure.

At Indiana University Kokomo, student artists are adding a new and more unusual tool to their repertoire — an industrial steamroller.

Eight students, one faculty member, one alumna, and visiting artist Bryan Tisdale are carving wood blocks as large as 4 feet by 8 feet, which they will coat in ink, cover in muslin, and run over with a steamroller. The pressure from the steamroller impresses the images onto the fabric. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, April 25, in the Fine Arts Building parking lot.

Senior Mark Thompson could not pass up the opportunity to participate in this advanced print making class.

"How often do you get to use a steam roller?" he said. "When I heard about this, I dropped another class for this opportunity."

Essentially, the students created very large stamps, said Minda Douglas, assistant professor of fine arts, who taught the class.

"You carve out what you don't want to print," she said. "We don't have a press large enough to print this size, so the industrial steam roller will put pressure on it, to press the ink into the fabric and print the image."

The public is invited to watch as students work in teams to place the blocks, created from three-fourths inch plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF), in place for rolling.

The artists created their designs on Photoshop, printed them in sections, and then transferred them to the boards before carving the image into the board using either hand or power tools.

Thompson put in nearly 30 hours carving his design into an MDF block. He'd never worked with it before, and likes how easy it is to carve. He said some students used power tools, but MDF must be hand carved.

After printing, he hopes to sell some of the prints, and to find another use for his block.

"It would be a really awesome table," he said. "I don't want to get rid of it. It's more valuable to me than my prints."

Once dry, several of the pieces will be displayed in the campus Art Gallery as part of the senior thesis show, and in the Kelley Student Center. One of the woodblocks will hang in the Cole Room, in Upper Alumni Hall. Some students plan to cut theirs into smaller pieces, to make smaller prints.

"We definitely plan to recycle and use these after we've printed them," Douglas said. "We're all proud of what we've created. The students are feeling a great sense of accomplishment for taking on such a large project. For all of them, it's the largest they've tried to do."

Douglas and her students are grateful to Sunbelt Rentals for donating use of the steamroller.

The Fine Arts Building is at the corner of Lincoln Road and LaFountain Street, in Kokomo. There is no charge to attend. Other student artwork will be displayed inside, and there will be refreshments served.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, IN – There's royalty walking around campus these days.

Indy 500 PrincessesIndy 500 Princesses, Danika Smith and Brittany Royer.

Danika Smith and Brittany Royer, both honors students at Indiana University Kokomo, are two of the 33 chosen to represent the state as 500 Festival princesses for the annual event. Nearly 300 collegiate women applied to be a festival princess.

The Indianapolis 500 is the world's most famous auto race, and the 500 Festival Princess Program is no less prestigious than the race itself. In fact, the Princess Program began in the late 1950's, and has always sought out the highest-caliber Hoosier women.

"The point is to find women who are motivated, unselfish, and personable," said Smith, a junior. "The Princess Program is a scholarship and ambassador program, not a beauty pageant."

Royer and Smith were chosen as princesses based on their academic performance, community service involvement, poise, and leadership skills. Smith is student body vice president and Royer is Psychology/Psi Chi club president and Student Alumni Association vice president. Both girls believe that the leadership opportunities available at IU Kokomo prepared them for this experience.

Through the Princess Program, Smith and Royer will not only advocate for the Indy 500, but IU Kokomo as well. Smith and Royer are direct examples of the quality students that IU Kokomo attracts and develops.

"I hope that participating in the Princess Program will encourage women to never hold back from their dreams because of ethnicity," said Smith, who is of Hispanic descent. "Criticism has always pushed me harder to succeed and prove people wrong."

As 500 Festival princesses, they will participate in community outreaches, ride a ceremonial lap around the track prior to the race, kiss the bricks, ride a float during the Festival Parade, and stand on the red carpet of the Key Bank 500 Festival Snakepit Ball. Not to mention, they are in the running for a $2,500 scholarship if one of them is selected as the 500 Festival Queen. However, Royer and Smith said that their focus is not on winning money or becoming queen, but participating in the events with fellow Indiana citizens.

The girls will use their Princess outreaches to spark hype for the Indy 500, and visit different locations in their hometown, such as their old elementary school to talk to young students. One of Royer's activities will take place at IU Kokomo, and she will encourage other girls to apply for the Princess Program the following year.

"To actually be a part of the events and race day activities is life changing. The Indy 500 is so important to the history of Indiana. I am especially anticipating the memorial service we have to attend because I come from a military family," said Royer, of Rossville.

Smith, 20, from Arcadia, is most excited to work shoulder-to-shoulder with her fellow princesses throughout the month of May.

Royer, a psychology major, and Smith, a public administration major, especially want their experience to inspire other Hoosier girls to move mountains.

Royer's father encouraged her to apply for the Princess Program. During Royer's sophomore year of college, her father was diagnosed with a rare, incurable illness that motivated Royer to live her life to the fullest.

"My dad and I love watching racing together. When I saw the Indy 500 princesses on TV as a kid, he told me, 'that could be you someday!' He has always been my biggest fan," said Royer, 23.

Smith and Royer believe that being ambassadors for the Indy 500 also means being ambassadors for the very core of Indiana heritage and tradition.

"We want to make Hoosier pride infectious through the Indy 500 Princess program. Through this program, I know that I have made 32 new lifelong friends," said Royer.

Story written by Alexis Nash. Alexis is an intern in the office of Media and Marketing.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and community members will come together at Indiana University Kokomo to raise awareness of domestic violence, at the annual Take Back the Night and Angel Walk.

Take Back The Night 2012Take Back The Night/Angel Walk

The rally begins at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, in Alumni Hall, Kelley Student Center. The one-mile Angel Walk begins at 6 p.m., rain or shine.

This is the ninth year for the event, which is also a fundraiser for the Family Service Association of Howard County's domestic violence shelter.

"Take Back the Night is an opportunity for our campus to support the community, and to educate about domestic violence," said Candy Thompson, director of academic projects. "Domestic violence can happen to anyone, and it is important to know the signs, and where to go if you need help.

A domestic violence survivor will share her story, which makes the topic more personal, and reminds participants why they are walking and raising money.

The Angel Walk begins on campus and moves north on Washington Street towards the Kokomo Schools administration building, where walkers will circle back to campus for food and music, as well as to visit student project displays advocating against domestic violence.

IU Kokomo campus clubs and organizations are raising money leading up to the event, and the total collected will be announced at the rally. There is no cost to register, either individually or as a team. Students who want to participate may register in the Office of Academic Affairs by calling 765-455-9406, or by e-mailing cam33@iuk.edu. Community members may register by calling 765-457-9313 ext. 9313, or by e-mailing teri@fsahc.org.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — For Ian Hougland, watching his movies with a crowd is both exhilarating and nerve-wracking.

Ian HouglandIan Hougland reviews a scene with two actors.

"It's one of the worst things ever, and one of the best things ever," he said. "It's cool to see how the audience reacts to the turns and twists in the plot."

He'll have another opportunity to gauge reactions to his second movie, at a free screening at his alma mater, Indiana University Kokomo, on Thursday, April 17.

Hougland, 23, who earned his degree in general studies in December, will be available for discussion after the showing of Drifting, which starts at 6 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. Many of the cast and crew members also will answer questions.

This is the second screening for the horror film, which premiered at Kokomo-Con in October 2013. He released Iceberg Theory in 2011, also at Kokomo-Con, a comics and pop culture convention.

Drifting is the story of a young woman who moves into a new house with her sister, and her past begins to come back to haunt her. Hougland describes it as a horror thriller.

"It is heavily a drama," he said. "Horror elements move the plot, but they are not the plot. It leaves a lot of open questions. I heard audible gasps during our previous screening, and people told me it creeped them out."

He financed production — including renting a better quality camera than he owned, and paying his cast and crew a small salary — with his tax refund.

"The whole budget of my film wouldn't have purchased the camera we rented," he said. "One of the actors drove from Peru, and what I paid him just covered his gas money."

He spent more than two years on the project, while he was a student at IU Kokomo and working. He deliberately scheduled filming for summer 2013, to coincide with his summer vacation from school.

"Working and going to school at the same time is hard enough," he said. "We intentionally waited for summer, since most of the cast and crew were going to school too."

Those viewing the movie will see many familiar landmarks. While the majority was shot in the house Hougland lived in at the time, he also filmed scenes in the Kelley Student Center on campus, as well as the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library and the Original Treasure Mart.

Scott Blackwell, visiting lecturer in humanities, saw the film, and was impressed. He encourages people to come to the screening.

"This is a film Kokomo can be proud of," he said. "It's an opportunity to support the arts in Kokomo, and I think it's a film that will resonate with college students in particular."

Hougland hopes to show Drifting a few more times, and is preparing for some film festivals. He did a limited run of DVD copies, which are available to buy at Comics Cubed in Kokomo.

With two movies behind him, he is ready to move on to a new challenge, possibly a comedic web series.

"Ultimately, this is my creative outlet," he said. "For me, that's where it begins and ends."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.