Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. — An Indiana University Kokomo faculty member joins an illustrious group, including former presidents, Noble laureates, artists, and business leaders, as a William J. Clinton Distinguished Lecturer.

Karl BeselKarl Besel

Karl Besel, director of the Master of Public Administration program, will talk about new urbanism and the impact of traditionally planned communities, the subject of his recent book, at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

He was honored to accept the invitation, and will speak in April 2014.

"The Clinton School has a really strong public speaker series," he said. "They have had some high-profile speakers in the past, and it is humbling to be chosen. They are focused on what they can do to revitalize communities."

In addition to former President Bill Clinton, the speaker series has included former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright, journalists George Stephanopoulos and Bob Woodward, actor and philanthropist Michael J. Fox, and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus.

Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke said the campus is proud of its outstanding faculty scholars.

"Dr. Besel is an excellent example of the faculty who interact with our students every day in the classroom," she said. "The mission of the IU regional campuses is to enhance the regions they serve, by conducting research related to our communities. Karl's research on urban planning does just that, by expanding our knowledge on urban revitalization efforts."

Besel and co-author Viviana Andreescu, an associate professor at the University of Louisville, began writing Back to the Future: New Urbanism and the Rise of Neotraditionalism in Urban Planning, during his 2009 sabbatical. It reviews recent urban planning trends, and connects them to their roots in historical preservation communities.

"The timing was good for a book like this," he said. "There has been steady growth in the number of planned communities. People like these high density developments, where they can walk where they want to go, and don't need to own a car."

This trend is not just prevalent in suburbs, but in downtown neighborhoods, as part of revitalization efforts. That is what drew attention from the Clinton School, he said.

"They are interested in what they can do to be part of revitalization efforts," he said. "A lot of these are minority communities that have gone by the wayside."

The book includes a case study of one of the first communities to receive federal revitalization money, in Louisville. When it received that money, it prompted area banks to be involved, which led to clean up of these areas, he said.

"Within 10 years, the crime rate went down significantly," he said. "If you're going to address crime and make areas more livable, you have to provide decent housing and decent neighborhoods."

The Clinton School was created under the vision of former president Clinton, who wanted to create a global institution that legitimized the practice of public service within the academic system. Students combine classroom instruction with public service projects. It is located at the William J. Clinton Library, Little Rock, Ark.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Faryal Sharif sets a daunting task for herself this month. She adds one more activity to her already busy schedule of college classes and a job, by writing a novel in 30 days.

Faryal Sharif writes her novelFreshman Faryal Sharif writes her novel with a laptop or a note pad using colored pencils.Sharif, an Indiana University Kokomo freshman, participates in National Novel Writing Month, for the fifth year in a row. She's successfully completed the program, also known as NaNoWriMo, twice.

"The idea is that everyone is always saying 'I'm going to write a novel someday,' but very few people actually sit down and do it,' she said. "It forces you to make the time to just do it."

To accomplish the task, she tries to write approximately 1,700 words daily, though she admits she's a little behind this year.

"Now I'm balancing being a college freshman, working at the AMC theater in Marion, and writing my novel," she said. "If I can get this done, and keep up with my school work, and possibly sleep a little, I will feel like I can do anything. It will really boost my confidence that I can handle college."

National Novel Writing Month is coordinated by a not-for-profit organization of the same name, which has the mission of encouraging people to write. In 2012, nearly 350,000 people worldwide participated. More than 250 novels written during the event have been published, including Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants. That book was which was made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson in 2011.

Writers may choose any genre, and Sharif, 18, usually writes a young adult mainstream book, "because I relate to that." Her current work in progress is mainstream fiction, telling the story of a teenage boy who is displaced from his home to live with a mysterious man who has links to his family's past.

To participate, Sharif created an account on the organization's website,, and then updates her word count regularly, working towards a goal of writing a first draft of at least 50,000 words by midnight November 30.

She's happy to have made some friends on campus because of NaNoWriMo, connecting with other participants, including Maria Ahmad, coordinator of student life and campus diversity; and Brian Arwood, student body president. Sharif, who is from Marion, hopes to recruit others to participate next year, so there is a writing community to support each other.

Ahmad is proud IU Kokomo is represented in the program.

"How cool would it be to hear an author say that he or she began a novel as a student on our campus?" Ahmad said. "It is a good experience for students to participate in something happening nationwide, because you feel like you are part of something bigger. Faryal's participation may inspire others to commit some time to writing their own novel, or beginning to explore that skill. This could also be a great start to forming a writing club or network."

Sharif said the greatest reward for finishing is personal satisfaction.

"There is no huge reward, other than knowing you set a big goal and achieved it," she said. "It's more of a personal reward. Other than that, you get a certificate and an authorization to buy the official T-shirt."

This year, she may take advantage of another perk — an access code to get a free proof copy of her completed novel from Amazon Create Space.

Sharif, who has not decided her major, hopes to be a published novelist in the future. She sees improvement in her writing each year she's participated in NaNoWriMo.

"It's fun to keep what I've written, and to see how much better I write compared to my first attempt, from when I was 13," she said. "It's also helping me keep up with my work at school. I'm motivated to finish, so I can get some more work done on my novel."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. – Indiana University Kokomo celebrates Homecoming with a weeklong series of school spirit competitions and events, all surrounding a theme of "Tradition Matters."

Cougars Homecoming vs Purdue University North CentralHomecoming 2012Beginning Monday, November 18, students will earn points for their clubs and organizations by participating in a variety of activities, with the overall winner announced at the Homecoming basketball game at noon on Saturday, November 23.

Students like Ron Tamir are looking forward to the festivities.

"Homecoming reminds the students that this is bigger than them, it's about the institutions, the graduates coming back, and looking back at their accomplishments and their legacy," said Tamir.

Starting off the week is a sheet banner competition, where organizations design a banner to display in the Kelley Student Center. Students can vote for their favorite design throughout the week. Those needing some Cougar swag can trade in t-shirts from other colleges for a free homecoming t-shirt, also on Monday.

Tuesday's event will take place on the grass. Get ready for a single-elimination bracket flag football tournament.

Deray Boyd will represent the new fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, in this year's homecoming competitions.

"I am most excited for the flag football tournament. It's a great bonding experience for the new fraternity," said Boyd.

Teams need a minimum of five players to compete, and do not have to be affiliated with an organization.

Wednesday's events will help raise awareness about hunger in the local community. Students can participate in a "fast-a-thon," where they pledge to fast for the day, and, in return, local businesses have been asked to donate based on number of students involved.

Also, Enactus will host its annual Let's CAN Hunger! competition in Alumni Hall. Students collect canned food items and use them to build structures. Donations for both events will benefit the Kokomo Urban Outreach.

On Thursday, students will have the opportunity to be on the big screen with a video contest. Each video must be under two minutes and be taken using a cell phone video camera. The videos will be shown in Kresge Auditorium.

Friday, be ready to walk the "Red Carpet" at the homecoming dance. The event is semi-formal, complete with snacks, desserts, and beverages. Cost is $10 per person or $15 per couple, with a special gift for the first 50 to purchase tickets. Attendees must 18 or older, and only IU Kokomo students and their guests are allowed entry. Please bring a student ID for admittance. Tickets may be purchased at

Saturday's events will start with the Alumni brunch, celebrating the accomplishments and service of the inaugural class of the IU Kokomo Alumni Association Hall of Fame. The 2013 class includes Chuck Bucheri, Judy Golitko, Alex Huskey, Eva White, and John Wisler.

The Homecoming basketball game, against conference foe Point Park, is at noon Saturday in the new Cougar gym. Be sure to wear your homecoming t-shirt and cheer on the Cougars.

For more information, visit

Story written by Sofia Stout. Sofia is an intern for the Office of Media and Marketing.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Javier Vasquez makes history, as the first Indiana University Kokomo athlete to qualify for national competition.

IU Kokomo Cross Country at Grace Lancer Invitational 2013Javier Vasquez runs at the 2013 Grace Lancer Invitational.

Vasquez, 21, earned a place in the NAIA cross country meet, set for November 23 in Lawrence, Kansas, by finishing seventh in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) meet this weekend (November 9).

"It's hard to describe the feeling I got when I knew I was going to be the first from IU Kokomo to go to a national competition," Vasquez, a business management major, said. "I've never been first to do anything before. I'm not intimidated. I just know if I push myself as hard as I did at the conference meet, I will be happy. My goal is to run my fastest time of the season at nationals."

Coach Jason VanAlstine said sending a runner to the national championships, which includes 32 teams and 97 individuals, is a big deal for a team only in its second year.

"Qualifying at least one runner for nationals was one of our biggest goals this year," he said. "We had five runners with an outside shot. On paper, Javier was one of the best runners in the conference, from early on in the season. It all depended on how he ran on this day."

Athletic Director Brandon Podgorski is excited to send an athlete to the national meet.

"Qualifying for the national championship is a big deal, and I think Javier will represent IU Kokomo well," he said. "I was at the conference championship, and I was very impressed with the effort all our runners showed. Although only one qualified, I couldn't have been prouder with how hard our runners ran, on a muddy course. Coach VanAlstine did a good job preparing them for the biggest race of the year."

Earning a place in the NAIA meet is a great accomplishment for Vasquez, especially considering he discovered his talent by accident, and nearly walked away from it after high school.

Growing up in Frankfort, he joined the track team in sixth grade, planning to be a sprinter. His coach convinced him to run the longest event in a middle school meet, the 2,400-meter race. Not only did he win, but he set a school record in doing so, and began a successful career that continued through high school. Although he had scholarship offers from big schools, Vasquez turned them down, because he did not want to run anymore.

"I chose IU Kokomo specifically because it did not have a cross country program," he said, adding that he also wanted to be close to his mother, who has multiple sclerosis, and he wanted an IU degree.

However, during his freshman year, campus officials announced the addition of men's and women's cross country for the next school year.

"It drew me back in," he said. "I don't really like to run, but I keep doing it because I'm good at it. I like the product of the work, and I guess that's why I still run."

His strategy is not to think about a big race until the very last minute.

"I try to ignore the fact there is a large meet coming up until the last day," he said. "For every second I possibly can on the night before a race, I focus on what quote I am going to think about during the race, to get me through when I think I can't push any harder."

At the conference meet, his mother's voice pushed him forward.

"I could distinctly hear her yelling 'Vamos, Javier,' which means, 'Let's go, Javier," in my head," he said. "My mother hasn't seen me in a cross country race since high school, but that's what I repeated in my head. I'd love to have her there, but it just would take too much effort for her. She will be happy to see a recording."

Vasquez said he almost missed the nationals, as he was in ninth place with 400 meters to go. As he came around the turn, he heard his coach yelling at him that he had to pass the pack in front of him to claim the last spot on the all-conference team.

"He turned it on with a quarter mile to go," VanAlstine said. "That's a long sprint in a long race. Javier is a lot of talent, and a lot of heart."

The men's team finished 5th of 10 teams in the conference, and the women finished 8th of 11.

Many of his teammates plan to train with Vasquez as he prepares for the NAIA meet, and his teammate Jon Flory will travel with him as a training partner.

Vasquez said after the meet, he will take a few months off from training, and will start working towards the big goals he's set for his senior season.

"I have a lot of unfinished business," he said. "I want to win the conference meet next year. With the winning times this year, I think it is a highly achievable goal for me."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.