Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Like many college freshmen, Conner Donelson balances a full schedule of classes with a job.

Conner DonelsonConner DonelsonHis is not your typical student job, though — his requires driving at speeds topping 100 miles per hour, battling for a checkered flag.

Donelson, 18, races sprint cars. But for now, racing has taken a back seat to his first priority – earning a bachelor's degree in business management from Indiana University Kokomo.

"I'm doing my best to be a student and to race at the same time," he said. "Before I started college, racing was all I thought about, 24/7. I didn't have much homework in high school. Now I need two or three hours a night to study. This comes first right now, and then racing will be the priority again once I graduate."

Donelson chose IU Kokomo for its School of Business and because he could stay home in Kokomo and continue racing. He's not certain what career field interests him outside of racing, but decided a business degree could give him flexibility.

"An IU business degree is well-respected, and gives me lots of options," he said. "I wanted to do something with a lot of numbers, with hands-on, group learning. I know what I like to do, and I have four years to decide what I want to do after college."

The season runs April through October, but even when he isn't racing, he is preparing to race. Each off-season, he and his crew, which includes his father and his uncle, take his car completely down to the frame and rebuild it, seeing where they can make improvements for the next season.

Racing is his family's tradition, as his father and uncle both began driving before they were 5 years old. They knew before he could even walk he would be a driver.

"When I was a baby, my dad put me in my uncle's race car, and they said I had this huge grin on my face," he said. "That's when it dawned on my mother that I was going to be a racer."

He started in quarter midgets when he was four, and later moved to junior sprints. He's driven sprint cars since his freshman year in high school, before he and his friends even had driver's licenses.

"That wasn't a rite of passage for me like most kids," Donelson said. "I've been behind the wheel and learning how to maneuver a vehicle all my life."

Along the way, he's learned important life skills, especially in communicating. Behind the wheel, he has to be able to talk to his crew and let them know what the car is doing, so he can perform at his best. He also has to talk to media after races, and has learned to speak to his audience.

"All of this experience really is helping me in my speech class," he said. "I've had to learn to all kinds of audiences, from my crew, to the media, and to people who don't know a lot about cars. I have to be able to read my audience and know how to say the right thing. I can apply that to my classes now."

Donelson hopes he may be able to continue into a career in racing, though he says he still has a lot to learn.

"My dream is to go big," he said. "If you're in this sport to do well, you want to go as far as you can. I love this, and I'm good at it. If I got the opportunity to go bigger, I would take it. There is a difference between a racecar driver and a guy who drives a racecar. I'm learning from my mistakes, but I'm not a racecar driver yet. I have talent, I have knowledge, and that will make me a race car driver one day."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — The smells of henna, cardamom, and other spices filled Alumni Hall as Saudi students at Indiana University Kokomo shared their ethnicity to bridge cultural gaps during Saudi National Day celebration on campus.

Saudi National DayAbdulmajed Aloqail and Dr. Kasem pose for a picture at Saudi National Day. See more pictures on Flickr.

Students, faculty, and staff sampled mint tea and Arabic coffee, received henna tattoos, tried on Saudi clothing, and saw falcons – the Middle Eastern country's national symbol. They also tasted traditional foods such as rice, lamb, unleavened bread, and spicy vegetable dishes.

"We want to build good relationships with our classmates," said Talal Al-Hammad, a student in the Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program. "We are pleased to be part of this community. The best part of IU Kokomo is not just the high academic standards, but the faculty and students. They are very friendly and welcome us every day. They have made this a very good experience for us."

The spices, clothing, and food were somewhat familiar to Breanna Santucci, Kokomo, whose mother is part Syrian. She was excited to have her name written in Arabic, and to see a large crowd participating in the event.

"It's important to meet real people, and find we have so much in common," she said. "That helps move past stereotypes some people have about the Middle East."

As a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, Larry Lawson knows he could be stationed in the Middle East, so he welcomed the opportunity to learn more about Saudi culture. He plans to meet with several of the international students to learn some pointers about the Arabic and Farsi languages.

"Every bit of familiarity I can gain will help me fulfill my job when I am deployed," Lawson said. "It's nice to get a taste and an understanding of another culture."

Lawson, a student in the Transition to Teaching program, called the event a great opportunity, especially for those who have not had the chance to travel overseas.

"It broadens the horizons of the students who have never left the borders of Indiana, or who haven't been able to travel to other continents," he said. "It gives you a better understanding of being a world citizen."

The day honored the 83rd Saudi National Day, a holiday celebrating the nation's identify and unification by the late King Ibn Saud. It is traditionally celebrated on Sept. 23 each year.

Al-Hammad was the first of the 30 Saudi students to enroll, arriving in 2012. He's encouraged others to follow him to IU Kokomo. He said there are approximately 70,000 Saudi students studying in the United States.

"We study in the United States for its high-quality education and because of its friendly people," he said. "Since we are here in Kokomo, we wanted to show our culture, our celebrations, and our food. We are so happy for the support we have received. It really means a lot to us."

Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke thanked the Saudi Student Club for hosting the event, and was pleased to see a large crowd participating.

"It was fantastic to watch our American students and our Saudi students interacting with one another, sharing the food, and learning about their cultural activities," she said. "We're very appreciative to them for bringing their culture to our campus, to expand our horizons. I know IU Kokomo is better because they are here, and we will continue to learn from one another."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Are you looking for a job or internship? Do you plan to look for one in the near future?

Dress for Success 2012Dress for Success 2012

Come learn how to succeed in your interview, at Indiana University Kokomo's annual Dress for Success fashion show and interview skit, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 9, in Alumni Hall.

"This is a fun way we can prepare students to succeed when looking for a first job, or trying to get an internship," said Tracy Springer, manager of career services. "You only get one chance to make a great first impression. We think this is valuable not only for those about to graduate, but for all students, to learn how to be professional."

The event includes a runway show of work and interview appropriate clothing, and an interactive "What Not to Do," skit, emphasizing what is and is not appropriate interview attire and behavior. There will also be refreshments and door prizes.

For more information, go to www.iuk.edu/career-services.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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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.