KOKOMO, Ind. —Indiana University Kokomo friends, alumni, and faculty invested in student success, at the Alumni Hall of Fame and Scholarship Gala Masquerade Ball.
Set in the elegant surroundings of Bel Air Events, the ball served not only as a scholarship fundraiser, but also an opportunity to recognize some of the best and brightest of the campus’ alumni, and thank those who serve in the community.
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke thanked those attending, noting that their investment in students supports the campus mission of providing a private school experience at public school cost.
“We want our students to have the most amazing learning experience with us,” she said, noting that more than 1,300 students traveled with classes this year — many at little to no expense.
Partnering to provide these experiences is an investment in the future, she added.
“These students will graduate, and they will raise the level of attainment in our region,” she said. “They will change our communities, they will change our state, and they will change Indiana, as we educate more people.”
Flor Valdes, daughter of immigrants and May 2018 graduate, personified the students impacted, speaking of the opportunities afforded to her because of scholarships. She packed potato chips at her factory job in her hometown of Frankfort while earning her degree in psychology. She’s now working at Four County Counseling Center, preparing to enter a master’s degree program.
“It was because of scholarships that I was able to graduate debt-free and travel overseas,” an emotional Valdes said. “Because of scholarships, I could travel and not have to work extra hours, which gave me more time to study and graduate with honors. The trips exposed me to different areas of study, and broadened my horizons.”
The festive evening also was a chance to honor “extraordinary friends” of the campus and community, and to honor alumni for their personal and professional achievements.
Sciame-Giesecke presented the Chancellor’s Medallion to Dr. Charles and Alice Simons, and Paul Wyman, honoring the many ways they have supported and contributed to the life and success of IU Kokomo, Howard County, and the Kokomo community.
The Simons are lifelong supporters of community arts. Their most recent gift allows IU Kokomo to have a student/faculty art gallery on the square in downtown Kokomo. He earned his doctorate in dentistry from IUPUI, while she earned a master’s degree in education from IU Kokomo. Dr. Simons is past president of the Kokomo Symphonic Society, Inc., and has been awarded the highest gubernatorial award by two Indiana governors.
Wyman is principal broker of the Wyman Group, and a U.S. Air Force veteran. He is president of the Howard County Board of Commissioners, and has held numerous leadership positions in the community, including chairman of the Haynes Apperson Festival, president of The Crossing, and chairman of the Howard County Student Leadership Summit.
Benjamin Liechty, director of alumni relations and campus ceremonies, inducted five honorees into the IU Kokomo Alumni Hall of Fame.
• Greg Aaron, A.G.S. ’90, president of the Community Foundation of Howard County. His career has also included leadership positions at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, president of the Kokomo/Howard County Economic Development Corp., and the City of Kokomo. He lives in Kokomo.
• Elizabeth Douglass, B.S. ’95, teacher at Western Intermediate School. She has taught fourth and fifth graders since 1995, and organizes a summer STEM camp each year. She also leads student trips to Space Camp in Alabama, is elementary math bowl coach, and has a service group for girls to volunteer in the school and community. She lives in Kokomo.
• Kylie Groover, A.G.S. ’11, B.S. ’13, senior wellness coordinator at WebMD Health Services. She was the first student to be named Outstanding Student of the Year in Health Sciences, and holds multiple certifications such as worksite wellness program manage, physical activity in public health specialist, and nutrition and wellness consultant. She lives in San Francisco, California.
• Shane Simmons, A.S. ’12, B.S. ’13. He is founder and CEO of Crimson Media, a digital marketing firm that helps in the patient acquisition process for medical practices across the U.S. He previously worked in the television news industry, reporting and anchoring for WQAD-TV, Moline, Illinois, where he received two Mid-America Emmy awards, a prestigious Edward R. Murrow Excellence in Journalism award, and recognition from the National Press Photographer’s Association. He lives in Fishers.
• John Smith, B.S. ’99, retired. He chairs the board of directors for Educate 360 LLC, a corporate training business providing project management training for large organizations. He also is a board member of Prosci Inc., a change management solutions firm serving similar businesses. He was founder and CEO of Project Management Academy, where he grew a startup concept into the nationwide leader in project management training. He lives in Las Vegas.
Event sponsors were NIPSCO, Professor Emeritus Herbert C. Miller, Community Howard Regional Health, Solidary Community Federal Credit Union, Ivy Tech Community College, Bright Ideas in Broad Ripple, Moore Title & Escrow, Blissfully Simple, and Eriks Chevrolet.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.