Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. — The Indiana University Kokomo School of Nursing reaches a significant historic milestone in December, graduating its first Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) class.

nursingmastersInaugural MSN graduates.

The inaugural class of fourteen – nurses working in areas that include surgery, oncology, labor and delivery, cardiac intensive care, and maternal and child health – graduate from the two-year program prepared to be leaders in the health care industry and in nurse education.

"This is one of our proudest moments," said Assistant Dean Mary Bourke, calling the graduates "a very, very impressive first class," graduating with a mean grade point average of 3.954.

The program is just one way IU Kokomo meets the needs of its region, Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke said.

"As a regional campus, we continue to add new degrees that enhance the communities we serve," she said. "Hospital administrators continue to call for more advanced nursing professionals, and we are pleased to provide that opportunity to nurses in our region."

The graduates include nurses from Kokomo and nearby communities, but also several who commuted long distances to earn the degree, including Evelyn Kamoto, who drove from Elkhart.

Stacy Fackler has already benefitted from enrolling in the nursing administrator track. A year after she began the program, she was promoted to her current job, as director of maternal and child health at Community Howard Regional Health.

"Administration knew I was earning this degree, and they trusted me with this promotion," she said. "The M.S.N. program allowed me to be with other managers, to pick their brains and learn from their life experiences. The actual assignments were so applicable to my job, it went well for me."

A desire for change in her career led Leigh Swartzendruber to the M.S.N. program, for the nurse educator track.

"Through my M.S.N. degree in nursing education, I can affect change in nursing students for years to come," she said. "There are so many changes in health care and nursing education. My advanced degree will allow me to make a positive contribution to both health care and nursing education."

Swartzendruber, a pre-admission nurse at St. Joseph Hospital, also participated in a School of Nursing trip to South Korea, and found the program has given her more confidence.

"I traveled around the world and experienced culturally diverse health care and education," she said. "That experience alone was a life changing experience, and one I will never forget. Also, I have shown my children that if you are determined and set your mind to something, you can accomplish anything."

Lynn Lacluyse wanted to earn the M.S.N. "to have more flexibility with my nursing degree, and to be able to grow in my current role," as manager of an intensive care unit, cardiovascular intensive care unit, and cardiac care progressive unit at Community Howard Regional Health. She chose the nurse administrator track.

While it was an intense learning process, the knowledge and skills she gained were invaluable, Lacluyse said.

"It helped with all aspects, financial knowledge, relationship knowledge, communication, being able to strategize, and research," she said.

Combining online and face-to-face classroom instruction sets IU Kokomo's M.S.N. program apart from others, along with its commitment to excellent student service. Faculty knows personal touch is a key part of student success.

"The bond the students have formed with one another through these two years has made the program more powerful," Bourke said.

Enrollment in the program has doubled since the first class began in January 2012. It has been reviewed and recommended for accreditation by the Commission for Education in Nursing.

Having earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at IU Kokomo, Fackler knew the M.S.N. program would be high quality. She is already recommending friends enroll as well.

"If your end goal is to have your M.S.N., do it here and do it now," she said. "This is the most accessible and workable program you will have. The faculty understand you have a job in addition to this, and they are so creative about being flexible and turning every experience into a learning opportunity."

Members of IU Kokomo's first M.S.N. class are: Jessica Marie Beaupre, Winamac; Teresa Katherine Criswell, Noblesville; Kimberly M. Easter, Marion; Stacy Michelle Fackler, Russiaville; April R. Fugle, Kokomo; Crystal Elaine Jones, Marion; Evelyn Chiwalasile Kamoto, Elkhart; Lynn Ann Lacluyse, Kokomo; Barbara Jane Miller, Kokomo; Beth A. Robbins, Greentown; Clara Jo Sessoms, Gas City; Kathy L. Shumpert, Peru; Dea Jo Stanley, Gas City; and Leigh Erin Swartzendruber, Greentown.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — There aren't too many undergraduate students who can call themselves published authors.

Heather RameyHeather RameyHeather Ramey is one of those who can.

Ramey, a chemistry major at Indiana University Kokomo, recently co-authored an article with Kasem Kasem, professor of chemistry, in The Journal of Material Sciences and Applications, detailing their research in harvesting solar energy.

She is grateful for the opportunity to research with a professor as an undergraduate.

"Research makes me feel like I'm exploring uncharted territory," she said. "I like the feel of, you put two and two together, and see how it reacts, rather than reading about it in a book or hearing about it in a classroom lecture. I get to see it for myself. I might not have had this opportunity at a bigger university."

Kasem has involved students in his research for more than 20 years, calling it a valuable teaching and learning tool.

"Research is part of education," he said. "Students who get trained as undergraduates gain experience in research and understand the expectations in the lab. It sets them up for success, both in research labs and in graduate school."

He noted that undergraduates in his lab do the same kinds of work graduate students perform.

"I don't call it 'undergraduate research,' Kasem said. "I call it 'bringing undergraduates to research.'"

Unsure if research was her career interest, Ramey asked Kasem to allow her to work in his lab more than a year ago. She has enjoyed using the state-of-the-art equipment in the lab, and said her professor trained her well to use it.

"This has given me confidence in myself, and it gives me something to look forward to each week," she said. "Dr. Kasem really invests time into his students, so we can get good results and contribute."

In addition to co-authoring the paper, she presented their research at the IUPUI Undergraduate Research Conference, and at the IU Kokomo Spring Research Symposium.

Eventually, Ramey plans to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry, but first will work for a while, preferably in a lab.

"I want to do some kind of research," she said. "I like forensics, so that is a possibility."

Ramey, from Noblesville, is proud not only of her research, but of the example she sets for her nine-year-old son. She returned to IU Kokomo in 2011, after an eight year hiatus when she married and started her family.

"I knew I would regret not finishing my degree," she said. "When I become a chemist, I am showing my son that you don't have to keep your life on hold, you can work hard, grab opportunities, and achieve your goals."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Bridget College huddled in her basement, holding tight to her boxer puppy and her dachshund, as a tornado shifted her home off its foundation, peeled off the back wall, and tore off the roof.

Bridget and Brian CollegeBridget and Brian College.College, a nursing student at Indiana University Kokomo, crawled out the window of what was left of her home, with only the clothes she was wearing. As she left her neighborhood, she couldn't help but wonder how she was going to complete the semester.

"I have no clothes, no books and no uniforms, and finals are coming up," she said. "I had to pull it together and just get through the rest of the semester. I knew if I didn't, I wasn't going to be able to make it through."

Classmates and faculty banded together, emailing her notes for the week of classes she missed, as she salvaged what she could from her house. Bridget Whitmore, assistant dean for the School of Nursing, offered uniforms. Several classmates helped pack her remaining belongings before the house was condemned.

When she returned to school, her fellow nursing students gave her money and supplies they collected, along with a case of her beloved Diet Mountain Dew.

"That about made me cry," she said. "It's made me proud to be an IU Kokomo student, and a nursing student. They've been phenomenal, from the dean on down. I knew some of the students by name, but others I just recognize from seeing them on campus.

"I was so thankful they came to help. It reminded me that this is why you go to school to be a nurse, to help people."

She was most surprised when Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke texted to be sure she was OK, and to ask how she could help.

"I was just amazed that the chancellor took time to check on us, and to see if we needed anything," she said. "I haven't wanted for anything throughout this whole situation. Everyone has been so generous in helping us. It doesn't matter than we're not from here. I felt extremely blessed."

As an Oklahoma native, College, 41, knows it could have been much worse. She was home with the dogs, and only went to the basement because her husband called from his car and told her there was a tornado coming toward their home, on South LaFountain Street.

"In Oklahoma, a tornado warning means you go out on the front porch to take a look," she said. But because Brian was worried, and the dogs were scared, she and her pets went downstairs.

"Within five minutes of getting to the basement, our house took a direct hit," she said. "It was loud and extremely fast. I heard the roof rip off the house and I could see sunlight upstairs."

Help arrived shortly after the storm, as two of her IU Kokomo nursing friends called to see if she needed to stay with them. When her husband arrived, emergency personnel urged them to leave the neighborhood immediately because of a gas leak.

The couple returned to their home the next day only to find out they had just a short time to remove as many of their belongings as possible due to safety reasons. They contacted friends from their church and IU Kokomo, asking for help. They are grateful for the response, not only from her campus friends, but also from their church family and military colleagues.

Bridget and Brian, a navy recruiter, are settling into another rental home, and she hopes to take stock of what they have and what they need during Christmas break. Their personal belongings are scattered in seven places, from dry cleaners to friends' homes.

"We don't really even know what we have yet," she said, adding they lost most all their furniture. She is very happy her laptop was right next to that recliner, and also was saved.

Despite their losses, the Colleges continued their holiday tradition of delivering Thanksgiving meals with their church. They have volunteered for three years now, and they enjoyed the chance to return to normal routine for the day.

"It was a few hours away from the chaos," she said. "It also reminded me that whatever my situation is, there are people who have it worse than I do. It put things in perspective for me."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Remembering and learning about a piece of Kokomo's past can help shape the community's future.

Allen Safianow receives the Jacob Piatt Dunn Jr. award.Allen Safianow receives the Jacob Piatt Dunn Jr. award.

Allen Safianow, professor emeritus of history at Indiana University Kokomo, continued his love for research and spent two years gathering information for his article, "Ryan White and Kokomo, Indiana: A City Remembers," published in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. The Indiana Historical Society recognized his efforts and recently awarded him the Jacob Piatt Dunn Jr. award for the article explaining the impact Ryan White's 1985 fight to attend school had on Kokomo.

"I hope the community will come to see the important role this event played in our history, even though it received unfavorable attention from the media," he said. "It's a complex story. We really need to understand what happened, learn from what happened, and see it in a broader context."

Safianow and his team interviewed people who played key roles during Ryan White's efforts to attend classes at Western Middle School after being diagnosed with AIDS. White, who was 14 at the time, acquired the virus through an injection of Factor VIII, as part of his treatment for hemophilia.

He was pleased to receive the honor, to bring more attention to the oral history project he led for the Howard County Historical Society. The article contains excerpts from many of the interviews, chosen to show the personal impact the story had on the community, and why it is important to remember what happened.

The Howard County Historical Society received the 2012 Indiana History Outstanding Project Award for the project.

Safianow hopes attention from the award will encourage people to visit the local historical society, look through the transcripts, view the artifacts, listen to recordings of the interviews, and reflect on what was learned.

"It's a complicated story," he said. "To have many voices contribute can give people a better understanding of what was involved. We're hoping people will take an interest in what we've done, and it will be enlightening on many levels."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana