Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.
For three generations of West women, Indiana University Kokomo represents opportunity.
For Sheryl West, IU Kokomo meant she could go to college in her mid-20s, even though she had young children at home.
IU Kokomo allowed her daughter, Alyson West, to transition from a factory job to a career she loves as a middle school teacher. For her granddaughter, Emily (West) Doran, IU Kokomo is where she found her calling in law enforcement, began a fulfilling career, and met her husband, Andrew.
“The best things in my life have happened here, because of IU Kokomo,” said Emily, B.S. ‘14. “I played volleyball. I got a degree, I met my husband, and I found a career. I’m so glad I came here.”
“This has been a wonderful place for our family,” said Sheryl West, B.S. ’86, M.S. ’90, who retired from Peru Community Schools as a principal, after a 25-year career. “Without IU Kokomo, I would never have had the career I had. At my age, and with a family, I could never have earned a degree anywhere else.”
Sheryl West is proud of the opportunities her daughter and granddaughter have also had, because of IU Kokomo. Even when Alyson planned to be a manager in a factory, Sheryl knew she had a gift for teaching, and is happy she could earn the degree to make that possible.
“I’ve had an opportunity to go into her classroom many times,” she said. “She fits where she is very well. She’s loved by her students. I can’t go anywhere in town without her students running up and giving her hugs, and she is just beaming. I don’t think she would have had that kind of satisfaction in a factory job.”
Emily agreed, adding that going to the grocery store with her mother is like accompanying a local celebrity.
“We really can’t go anywhere in public without meeting people she’s taught,” Emily said. “Every trip to the store gets extended because we stop and we talk, and we chat, and she runs into so many people she knows.”
IU Kokomo has been part of Emily’s life for as long as she can remember — she attended the campus daycare as a toddler and preschooler, while her mother was a student, and even attended class occasionally.
“I remember bringing her in on my first day,” said Alyson, now a social studies teacher at Maconaquah Middle School. “It was the first time she had been anywhere other than with family members. I told her I had to go to class, and I would be back later. She was just like, ‘Bye, Mom,’ and she was ready for me to leave.”
Emily noted that her office in the campus police department is where the daycare used to be.
She blazed trails at IU Kokomo as a student, as the campus’ first signed athlete, the volleyball team’s first libero, as the first female cadet in the IU Police Department at Kokomo, and later as its first female officer.
She also met her husband, Andrew Doran, B.S. ’13, who was a year ahead of her in the cadet program, and now is a Peru Police Department officer.
Doran found her purpose on campus, after initially enrolling only because of the chance to play volleyball. She’d considered teaching, like her mother and grandmother, but a teaching internship in high school convinced her it wasn’t for her. When she took her first criminal justice class, she knew that was what she wanted to do.
After her sophomore year, she gave up volleyball for the opportunity to be a cadet. Later, she completed the IU Police Academy, then served as a part-time officer in the campus police department, while finishing her degree — a full semester early, she is proud to note.
A full-time job opened shortly before she graduated, allowing her to begin her career on campus.
“I really have spent my whole life here,” Emily said.