Indiana University Kokomo

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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.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — The Indiana University Kokomo Alumni Association celebrates Homecoming, by inducting its first class into the IUKAA Hall of Fame

IUKL3065-10002013 IUKAA Hall of Fame awards.

The Hall of Fame brunch, honoring Chuck Bucheri, Judy Golitko, Alex Huskey, Eva White, and John Wisler, kicks off Homecoming day activities, starting with a reception at 9 a.m., and a chicken and waffles brunch at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, November 23, in Alumni Hall. All alumni are encouraged to wear IU Kokomo or IU spirit wear for the event.

"We encourage all of our alumni to come celebrate the accomplishments of some of our most deserving graduates," said Interim Chancellor Sciame-Giesecke. "It is also a great chance to reconnect with IU Kokomo and see what's happening on campus."

The brunch also includes the alumni Hall of Fame induction. Ryan Bowman, Director of Alumni Relations, said in past years, the association honored one Distinguished Alumni Award winner during commencement. The new Hall of Fame replaces that award, and allows more deserving graduates to earn recognition. He anticipates adding between three and five new members each year.

"We have an outstanding first class, who are great representatives of IU Kokomo, and what you can do with a degree from our campus," Bowman said.

All previous Distinguished Alumni Award winners are included in the new Hall of Fame, and are invited to attend the event.

Following brunch, alumni are invited to the new IU Kokomo gym in downtown Kokomo, to cheer for the Cougar men's basketball team as they take on conference foe Point Park in the Homecoming game.

Brunch tickets are $10 each, and include a reception and brunch. Basketball tickets are $5 each. To purchase ticket for either or both events, go to

The first class of IU Kokomo Alumni Association Hall of Fame members are:

• Robert Charles "Chuck" Bucheri: Chuck Bucheri considered himself to be an IU Kokomo alumnus, because he started his college education here. At the time, it did not offer a four-year degree in business, so he completed it in Indianapolis. He served on the campus advisory board, and was a long-time supporter of IU Kokomo. He was a certified public accountant, and was a senior partner in the accounting firm of Bucheri, McCarty, and Metz in Kokomo. He was active in the local community and a generous benefactor to many causes. He passed away in May, and will be represented by his family at the induction.

• Judy Golitko: Judy worked more than 30 years as a paralegal before enrolling at IU Kokomo to fulfill her dream of being a nurse. She earned her associate degree in nursing in 2001, and then worked as a medical-surgical nurse while completing her bachelor's degree in nursing in 2003. Golitko then enrolled at IU's Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, earning her law degree in 2006 and successfully passing the Indiana Bar at age 59. She combines her nursing and law education as a disability attorney at Golitko Daly PC. She has served as a guest lecturer in the School of Nursing, and will serve as an adjunct faculty member starting in January. Golitko is currently president of the IU Kokomo Alumni Association, having served on its board more than 10 years. She received the President's Award, the highest honor given to an alumni volunteer, in 2010.

• Alex D. Huskey: Alex currently serves as chairman of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, and is an ordained minister, serving as pastor of the New Bethany Church of God in Christ, Marion. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1983-1993. When he left active duty, he enrolled at IU Kokomo, and earned a bachelor's degree in general studies. Later, he returned to campus to earn a Master of Public Management degree in 2010. He had a distinguished career with the Marion Police Department, where he was deputy chief. In 2004, he was the first African American appointed superintendent of the Indiana Excise Police, a position he held until former Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed him to his current position with the alcohol and tobacco commission. Daniels also honored him with the Governor's Distinguished Service Medal in 2013.

• Eva White: Eva earned her undergraduate degree from IU Kokomo in 1994, and also won the outstanding humanities student award. White is now an associate professor of English at IU Kokomo, and recently was honored as one of IU's best, as winner of the Herman Frederic Lieber Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. She's also received the IU Kokomo Claude Rich Award, which is the highest honor given on campus; and twice received the IU Kokomo Trustees' Teaching Award. She also founded the campus literary magazine, From the Well House, created IU's only Irish studies minor, and redesigned the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program. She has taught more than 25 different courses during her six years at IU Kokomo, both in the classroom and through online and hybrid instruction, which combines online and classroom experiences.

• John Wisler: Dr. John A. Wisler is a toxicologist certified by the American Board of Toxicology. He has more than 25 years of experience in toxicology research and drug development. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from IU Kokomo in 1978, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology from the IU School of Medicine in 1982. He earned a doctoral degree in toxicology from the IU School of Medicine in 1988. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the National Research Council at the U.S. Army Institute of Chemical Defense, Baltimore. He is scientific director in toxicology and drug safety at Amgen Pharmaceuticals, Thousand Oaks, Calif. He has worked with companies including Allergan and Procter and Gamble, and also was president of the American Board of Toxicology. He has been married 35 years to Sandra Wisler, RN, BSN, CCRN, who is also an IU Kokomo graduate. They have two children, Brandon and Megan.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.