Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Tyler McClure's dream job is to be a media specialist for the Indianapolis Colts or the Indiana Pacers.

2013 Graduate Assistants2013 Graduate Assistants

He's gaining valuable experience towards that goal this year, as Indiana University Kokomo's sports information director — and as Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) student.

"I'm getting real world, hands on experience, not just reading about it in a book," McClure said. "You see how what you are learning in class applies to your job. I'm getting my feet wet, learning the responsibilities, and working independently."

McClure, 23, Carmel, is one of five graduate assistants, who are also coaching athletic teams, managing the Cole Fitness Center, and advising student organizations, while earning master's degrees to prepare them for their future careers. As sports information director, he updates the athletic department website, assists with game day operations, and is the media contact person for athletics. He has a bachelor's degree in sports communication from IU Bloomington.

Todd Gambill, vice chancellor for student services and enrollment management, said the graduate assistants program benefits both the students and campus.

"It would be nearly impossible to offer the level of service we currently provide to our students and student athletes without this group of rising stars," he said. "Adding graduate assistants to our workforce is a wonderful way to provide extra hands for the workload, but also to offer graduate students real world experience that can be parlayed into post graduation employment."

In addition to job experience, graduate assistants earn discounted tuition and a stipend.

Whitney Farris, an M.B.A. student from Kokomo, was one of the first two graduate assistants last year, serving as sports information director. This year, she is assistant coach for the men's basketball team.

"I enjoy my graduate assistant position, and all the experiences and learning that it affords me," she said. "It is a fantastic opportunity to be part of a new program. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with people in the athletic department, around campus, and in the community, to support our student athletes."

Farris, 26, has a degree in business management from Valparaiso University, where she played basketball. She plans a career in athletics, preferably coaching.

McClure, Cody Dunham, Ryan Bowerman, and Priyanka Singh Deo are all new graduate assistants this school year.

Dunham, 22, Marion, Ky., is the graduate assistant for the new Cole Fitness Center. An M.B.A. student, he has bachelor's degree in communication from Georgetown College, Kentucky.

"It's really cool to get in on the ground level with opening a new facility," he said. "People have really enjoyed it and have needed something like this. It's not hard to make people happy in my job."

Ryan Bowerman, 25, is the assistant women's volleyball coach. He is from Crawfordsville, and enrolled in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (M.A.L.S.) program, focusing on global studies. He previously earned a degree in mathematics from Wabash College, and then spent a year teaching in the Amazon jungles of Ecuador.

He appreciates the chance to earn an advanced degree while gaining coaching experience.

"This is really good job experience, doing a lot of what a head coach does, like recruiting, checking on athletes' academic progress, and running practices," he said. "This has been an exciting season, and we've been really pleased with the volleyball team. They've really stepped up their game."

Bowerman plans either to be a coach or to work for a not-for-profit or non-government organization after completing his master's degree.

Singh Deo, 24, is the graduate assistant for student activities and campus diversity. She is from Khariar, Orissa, India, and is enrolled in the M.B.A. program. She previously earned a bachelor's degree in business management, with a minor in economics, from Purdue. She worked in contract management for Linde Engineering, Munich, Germany, before starting her graduate program.

"I experienced diversity at its finest," she said, "We worked with clients from all over the world, and had to be mindful of their culture and ways of doing business. Since I gained invaluable experiences by being a student leader and embracing diversity, I am striving to promote it on IU Kokomo's campus."

She plans to work in contract management after earning her M.B.A., and hopes to live on the west coast.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.