Indiana University Kokomo

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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.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Before this semester, Darion Daugherty thought research was something scientists did — not elementary education majors like herself.

2014 Student Research Symposium2014 Student Research Symposium

She learned from experience, though, that research is part of all majors, and completed her own project, studying how different wavelengths of light impact plant growth.

Daugherty, a freshman from Peru, was among the 52 students presenting at the annual Indiana University Kokomo Student Research Symposium. The annual event showcases research conducted in the last year by graduate and undergraduate students from a variety of majors, including chemistry, psychology, fine arts, education, biology, English, and others.

She now has a better understanding of how to conduct research, a skill she can share with her own future students.

"This would be a great experiment in an elementary school classroom," she said. "I see how research allows you to dig deeper and get a richer understanding of a topic."

That is the purpose of the Student Research Symposium, said Netty Provost, event co-chairperson.

"The symposium is a wonderful event for our students to share their excellent academic research and creative work with a wider audience on campus," she said. "By participating in the event, students gain valuable experience with presenting their work to an audience, in both posters and presentation sessions, and develop skills to explain their research and creative work to an audience who might not be familiar with the discipline."

Chemistry majors William Bennett and Nicholas Daanen's project had a long, complicated title, that essentially translates to "shining a light on electrodes to make hydrogen," as they explained to the non-chemistry majors examining their poster.

They conducted their research with Kasem Kasem, professor of chemistry, studying potential ways to mass produce hydrogen, as an alternative to gas energy.

"Hydrogen is more efficient, and less harmful to the environment," Daanen said, adding that they've both researched with Kasem for three semesters. The work allows them to apply what they've learned in class, in a more meaningful way than class lab exercises.

They received one of two awards given for poster presentations at the symposium. Allison Morgan also was honored for her poster of her project, "The Allure of Virtuality."

Presentation award winners were Noah Cicalo for "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Exposure Treatment for Soldiers," and Angelina Gurney for "Personality Traits, Perceived Stress, and Coping Styles."

Candy Thompson, co-chairperson, said these experiences are essential for students like Daanen and Bennett, who plan to attend graduate school.

"Part of academia is to research, and to present your research," she said. "It's exciting to see the level of engagement on our campus. It's a great opportunity for people to see the excellent research happening here."

For April Name, making a presentation is a way to educate the campus about what new media majors do. She displayed her graphic design portfolio, including notecards, a travel poster, and a literary journal she redesigned, and talked about her creative process and inspiration.

"For me, it's about creating awareness of the new media program," she said. "A lot of people don't understand what we do. Being able to get in front of people, and talk about what we do, and the process we do, is exciting, and it's fun to show off your hard work."

It also helps her prepare for her future, after she graduates in May.

"It's like a job interview," she said. "Employers will want me to be able to talk about what I've done, and what my creative process was for my work."

The IU Kokomo Student Research Symposium is sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs, the Center for Student Research, the Honors Program, and the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.