KOKOMO, Ind. – When Andrew Fields enrolled at Indiana University Kokomo four years ago, his plan was to keep his head down, study and excel in his classes, and build a résumé that would lead to a career.
What he didn’t expect was that he would find a place he belonged — and that he would graduate in May not only with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but with friends and a vast array of experiences.
“I had previously attempted, and struggled, to find my place in the world, before college tested me and gave me chances to become a more social person,” he said. “Now, as I go back into the world, I am much more confident in my future. Because of what I have learned, both within the classroom and outside of it, I am a much stronger man, who is not only more capable of talking to new people and making new friends, but who is more capable of helping the people I care about.”
Growing up, Fields moved frequently, mostly because of his family’s financial struggles. After graduating from online high school, he thought college wasn’t for him. Six years later, living in Kokomo, he decided a college degree was his way to stability.
He wasn’t a social person, and didn’t plan to participate in campus activities, but he kept “accidentally” finding ways to get involved. He signed up for the honors program for the challenge, and found good friends in the classes.
He made more friends, and learned how to network, when he chose a communications minor, as a way of improving his communications skills. He played a small role in the campus theatre production of You Can’t Take It With You, and later joined student government and the Enactus student organization.
As a senior, he is student body vice president for diversity, and recruitment officer for Enactus.
“A lot of people on campus think I am an extroverted person, but I was very much to myself before,” he said. “Once I came here and started talking to people, and started getting involved, I learned how to become more social and how to network and connect with people.”
He’s also taken advantage of the Kokomo Experience and You (KEY) program, which offers travel experiences for students in their majors. Most recently, he went to Europe with a psychology class, to see how mental health care there compares to that in the United States. He’s also been to a therapeutic horseback riding center for another psychology class, and visited Chicago with the communication arts department.
After graduating with his psychology degree, with minors in business, communications arts, and international studies, he plans to earn a graduate degree in industrial organizational psychology. That degree will allow him to work with business owners to offer expertise in employee behaviors and attitudes, to see how those can be improved through hiring practices, training programs, and management systems.
Fields has been accepted to at least one of the programs he’s applied to, and been offered an assistantship. He’s waiting for word from others before making a decision which to attend.
He chose the career because he finds it interesting, and because it offers many job possibilities.
“One of the things I like about IU Kokomo is that it has given me many opportunities,” he said. “I think I might finally break out of the cycle of poverty.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.