Leah Diekhoff spices up Books and Brews with new murals

Over the last several months, you might have noticed some additional decor at Books & Brews near campus. What you might not have known is that UIndy’s own Leah Diekhoff ‘21 (studio art with a concentration in painting) is responsible for the new murals.

The process began nearly a year ago when Keith Fechtman, adjunct faculty at UIndy and co-owner of Books & Brews South Indy, approached the art department looking for students who might be interested in doing some artwork. “I got in contact with Keith and his business partner and from there we discussed what they wanted,” Diekhoff said. “This was back in the spring of 2020, but because of the pandemic work didn’t begin until September 2020.”


Once Diekhoff’s work on the outdoor mural was complete, the owners asked if she would be interested in doing more artwork. “They gave me a lot of creative freedom,” Diekhoff said. “So I decided to do a fantastical, fairy tale themed mural with focus on one of my favorite sources of inspiration, Alice in Wonderland, and incorporated odes to other fairy tales as well.” Other fairy tales used to inspire the mural include: Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Grettel, and others.

Fairy Tale Mural

Diekhoff’s work with Books and Brews isn’t done yet! She has another mural planned after the fairy tale mural is complete, this time based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Faculty/Student collaboration completes audiobook narration

Indiana VoicesIndiana is known as the Crossroads of America, but what many people might not realize is how many times over the years Indiana has found itself at the political crossroads as well. While names like Pence, Buttigieg and Coney Barrett have had the state in the political limelight recently, Indiana was a tense battleground state for much of the century spanning Reconstruction to the Civil Rights era.

Recently, in partnership with Indiana Voices of the Indiana State Library, faculty members Stephanie Wideman, Whitney Tipton, Katie Greenan; and student Kathryn Leigh ’21 (biology) completed a collaborative audiobook narration for “Campaign Crossroads: Presidential Politics in Indiana from Lincoln to Obama” which will be published this year and ultimately preserved by the Library of Congress.

Wideman, assistant professor in the Department of Communication and director of the UIndy Speech and Debate Team, was researching potential service projects for her team when she discovered Indiana Voices. “It seemed like a perfect fit,” she said. “When I contacted Linden Coffman, the director of the program, and learned about its role in our community, I knew this would be a beneficial collaboration for our students and the state of Indiana.”

Indiana Voices records Indiana-related books and magazines for patrons of the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library. The project is funded by a grant from the Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation and relies on volunteers to narrate and proofread the books.

“On the team, and in the Department of Communication, we pride ourselves on helping students find their voice,” Wideman said. “This project allowed them to use their voice in service of our broader community.” 

IMG-1461Leigh, vice president of the Speech and Debate Team, joined the project after Wideman mentioned it to the team. “I enjoy volunteering and books, so I figured it would be a perfect fit,” she said. “It became something I looked forward to every week. I loved working with Linden, but also knowing that I was doing something very beneficial, as our work is for those who are visually impaired.”

The project spanned most of a year, with narrators going to the Indiana State Library to record sessions roughly every two weeks to record their chapters. Once the task of narrating the 600-page book was completed the team set out to proof their audio recording. The final step was returning to the sound booth to fix any differences between the book and their audio recordings.

“This project allowed me to gain a new appreciation for the role of the state of Indiana in our presidential politics,” Wideman said. “While traditionally the state tends to lean conservative, at certain historical points the state has been in play during election season—such as when Obama visited the state before ultimately winning it in 2008.”

“‘The Crossroads of America’ takes on a new meaning for me now,” added Katie Greenan, assistant professor of communication who also worked on the project. “From Lincoln, Grant, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Johnson and JFK. The list goes on. Indiana was a battleground state and they all fought hard for it. I really appreciate Indiana’s rich history.”

Though this project began as an optional service project for the Speech and Debate Team, Wideman says that she is working on the possibility of future collaborations with Indiana Voices with the team, and possibly even in general communication courses. 

“I didn’t realize Indiana’s political history was so extensive,” Leigh said. “It was a very interesting and fulfilling experience, and I hope to do similar work in the future.”

Etchings Press announces 2020 Whirling Prize recipients

University of Indianapolis students enrolled in the ENGL 479 course explored the genre of horror for the 2020 Whirling Prize. The students reviewed submissions and selected winners in the categories of prose and poetry in the annual competition organized by Etchings Press, the University of Indianapolis student-run publisher. Liz Whiteacre, assistant professor of English, serves as the Whirling Prize faculty advisor.

Laurel Radzieski received an award for the 2020 Whirling Prize in Poetry for her collection “Red Mother” (NYQ Books).  Joseph P. Laycock received an award for the 2020 Whirling Prize in Prose for his book, “The Penguin Book of Exorcisms” (Penguin Classics).

"Red Mother" by Laurel Radzieski

“Red Mother” by Laurel Radzieski

In “Red Mother,” Laurel Radzieski weaves a love story told from the perspective of a parasite. This series of short poems explores the intimacy, desire and devotion we all experience by following the sometimes tender, often distressing relationship that emerges between a parasite and its host. Radzieski’s poetry is playful, though often with sinister undertones. Far from romanticizing either role, “Red Mother” takes readers on a tour of their own innards, exposing the hooks and claws of all involved.

“Red Mother had amazing elements beautifully incorporated into it, making it very engaging. I might go searching for more horror-themed poetry just because of Radzieski’s book.” said Cassandra Dillon ‘22 (Professional Writing)

"The Penguin Book of Exorcisms" by Joseph Laycock

“The Penguin Book of Exorcisms” by Joseph Laycock

“The Penguin Book of Exorcisms,” edited by religious studies scholar Joseph P. Laycock, showcases a range of stories, beliefs, and practices surrounding exorcism from across time, cultures, and religions. Laycock’s exhaustive research incorporates scientific papers, letters and diary entries by the clergy, treatises by physicians and theologians, reports from missionaries and colonial officers, legal proceedings, and poetry and popular legends. The result is informative and entertaining, and proves that truth can indeed be scarier than fiction.

“Not only do these stories entertain and educate, but they maintain a sense of horrific reality within themselves that rings eerily true even today,” said Hope Coleman ’21 (Creative Writing).

“The student judges explored and engaged with Horror this fall and ended the competition with a greater appreciation of the nuances of the genre, after having the opportunity to read the contest entries. It was an excellent learning experience,”  said Liz Whiteacre, advisor of the 2020 Whirling Prize.

Call for 2021 entries

Student judges welcome recently published books of prose and poetry in response to the theme of nature published since January 2019. Students are employing a broad interpretation of these criteria in their reading and judging. The deadline for submissions is September 3, 2021. Details may be found on the Etchings website

Pamela Guerrero ’19 chosen for 2021 Axis Leadership cohort

Pamela Alejandra Guerrero ’19 (political science major, international relations minor) was recently named as part of the Axis Leadership Program’s 2021 cohort.

Axis is an eight-month leadership program designed for Latino professionals between the ages of 21-28 to develop personally and professionally and to prepare them to engage with civic and community leadership activities. Upon completion, Axis participants will be equipped and prepared to unify, transform and serve the community.

The program is a partnership between the City of Indianapolis and Indiana Latino Expo. Class members are chosen through a competitive process based on their community involvement, personal vision and achievement.

Guerrero, who is from Ecuador, says it’s a great feeling to represent her country in the program.

“When I found out I was selected for the Axis 2021 cohort, I was very excited about the opportunity. I hope that Axis helps me develop deeper relationships with professional Latinos in the Indianapolis area and learn and meet more outstanding professionals through the State. I also hope to improve myself as a professional and learn how I can better serve the community,” said Guerrero.


Since graduating from UIndy in December 2019, Guerrero interned with the Indiana Institute for working families and assisted #TEAMINSTITUTE throughout the 2020 Indiana legislative session as their legislative and communications assistant. In her former position with the Institute, she met and interacted with many different non-for-profits and legislators. She had the opportunity to write blog posts for the Institute and learn more from the work that nonprofits do across the country as well as the influence nonprofits have in the public policy process.

After her internship, Guerrero was hired as a civil rights specialist with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. In her current position, she concentrates on investigating complaints that fall within the jurisdiction of the Indiana Fair Housing law, the Fair Housing Act, and the Civil Rights law. The Civil Rights Commission provides relief to people that have been discriminated against in the areas of housing, education, public accommodation, credit and employment.

Reflecting on her time at UIndy, Guerrero said, “I learned a lot at UIndy. I think that UIndy prepared me to become an analytical person which is so crucial for my career. I valued all of my classmates’ diverse political views, and I think my professors allowed for a very open environment to learn from each other.”

She specifically expressed gratitude for the mentorship of Milind Thakar, professor of international relations, and Laura Wilson, assistant professor of political science.

“They have been my biggest cheerleaders. I feel confident that even after graduating, I can reach out to them and ask them questions about grad school. It is great to know that I am not on my own trying to figure out the next steps in my career and studies,” Guerrero said.

In the long-term, Guerrero would eventually like to work in environmental policy and management to help address climate change and its effects. She is interested in making clean environment access a right because she sees climate change creating a global humanitarian crisis.

“In Indiana alone, we feel the changes hotter summers, more days in the 90 degrees, and more rain, making it harder for agriculture. Indiana needs to adapt quickly, controlling the sources that are increasing greenhouse gases. Most of the pollution in the state affects minority communities creating lifelong health issues. A clean environment should not be reserved for those that can afford it. We all should have access to it,” said Guerrero.

About the program
The concept of the Axis Leadership Program began as part of Mayor Joe Hogsett’s Latino Advisory Council as a significant lack of Latino leadership was noted within the Indianapolis community. This program was a dream of many long-standing Latino leaders including Former Advisory Council member Carmen DeRusha, whose unrelenting leadership to see a leadership program come to fruition inspired the leadership team to develop the Axis Leadership Program.

Alex Algee ’20 and his UIndy journey

Alex Algee (Sport Management ‘20) has been making the most of every opportunity throughout his time at UIndy. His experiences and the connections he’s made in the sport management industry are a testament to ambitiously pursuing your goals. 

Dr. Jennifer Van Sickle, director of the UIndy Sport Management program, said, “We are always stressing the importance of volunteering and networking. These are key for getting started in the sport industry. Alex took this advice and ran with it and now has filled his resume with outstanding experiences with top notch sport organizations in Indianapolis.”

As a freshman, Alex attended a Women in Leadership panel at UIndy where the general manager of the Indiana Fever at the time, Kelly Krauskopf, was a guest speaker. He reconnected with Krauskopf as a sophomore to interview her at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for a sports management class and was able to shadow her his junior year after she had taken over the Indiana Pacers’ NBA 2K League eSports team. His connection with Krauskopf, who is now an assistant general manager for the Indiana Pacers, led him to an events internship with the Pacers. 


As an events intern, Alex worked with the facilities department to plan and coordinate events held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, including Pacers games, concerts, shows, and more. If you’ve ever wondered how massive stages are built and torn down in a matter of hours, Alex can tell you from personal experience how that happens. 

My time at Bankers Life Fieldhouse was absolutely incredible. The people I encountered and the experiences I was a part of were extremely memorable. I was lucky enough to grow both personally and professionally throughout my time with the Pacers organization and I hope to find my way back there in the near future,” said Alex.

He was able to step into the role of lead event coordinator for youth and high school basketball games held at the fieldhouse and also took care of some VIP guests, which led to his most memorable moment: meeting country singer Luke Combs! 

Alex’s second and current internship is with USA Football, where he is a part of the events department for their national team. One of his primary responsibilities is to help coordinate and plan regional camps for high school athletes hoping to try out for the national team. It’s Alex’s job to recruit athletic trainers, book hotels, organize lunches and many other tasks. He recently returned from USA Football’s national conference in Louisville, KY where he served as a liaison to coaches and youth league management and even got the honor of being a tackle dummy for a coaching demonstration.

When asked about what advice he would give to other students looking for internships or career-related opportunities, Alex said, “People will say it is about who you know, but it is really about who knows you.”

“It’s about getting your foot in the door, and once your foot is in there, knocking the door down and being able to show others who you are and build yourself up.” 

VanSickle is confident Alex has created a formula for success.

“He has the work ethic needed for success,” VanSickle said. “He is not afraid to step out of his comfort zone. I’m excited for Alex because I think the future holds great things for him.”

Tylyn Johnson ’22 applies adoption advocacy skills

Greyhound connections and a strong work ethic are paying dividends for Tylyn Johnson ’22 (social work), who has developed a passion for adoption advocacy. While Johnson didn’t set out to become a student adoption advocate, the pandemic changed everything when the time came to pursue an internship.

“I had originally planned on doing some community center-type work,” he said. Instead, “I found myself working with the Indiana Adoption‘s Rosie Butler to develop an understanding of how foster care and adoption work, and from there, trying to raise awareness.”

Butler, a University of Indianapolis alumna, was immediately impressed with Johnson’s work and dedication.

“Tylyn has immersed himself in this internship, one that is outside the ordinary internship for social work students because of the pandemic, and has gone above and beyond my expectations. He has an exceptional ability to grasp concepts, interpret data, explore his ideas and run with them,” said Butler ’84 (social work).

As Johnson was learning more about the needs, practices, and history within foster care and adoption, he saw not only an opportunity to develop knowledge but an opportunity to try to help spark more conversations around this subject. 

“The way I think about adoption, it’s about providing an important resource to youth, that resource being a “forever family,” which can improve their outcomes in ways that are massively important, and which can create more love in homes in a world that I want to see overflow with love,” said Johnson.

Tylyn Johnson

Tylyn Johnson

When Johnson started at UIndy, he was an undecided major. He knew that he wanted to help people in meaningful and effective ways, so he took a social work course with a service-learning element during his freshman year and was hooked.

‘The social work program has helped prepare me for my future career by articulating more specifically how I can actively engage communities in my work,” said Johnson. “[Extra-curriculars also] helped spur my development as a writer, as a resource professional, and as a human being.”

During his time at UIndy, Johnson has been involved in the Interfaith Scholars Program, the Black Student Association, UIndy Pride, and Healing Hounds. Additionally, he considers himself a “part-time writer,” writing and sharing poetry and stories where he can offer a bit of artistic empowerment to people who need it.

“As a social work student, Tylyn’s work ethic, creativity, scholarship, and passion for social justice are just a few of the unique qualities he brings to the classroom and his practicum,” said Christie Jansing, assistant professor and director of field education for the University of Indianapolis Bachelor of Social Work Program. “While his practicum will be wrapping up at the end of the semester, I know that great things are still to come for Tylyn.”

Johnson appreciates the support he’s received from student resources including the Professional Edge Center and the Center for Advising & Student Achievement. He has received support from many faculty members as well.

“Dr. Eduard Arriaga (Global Languages) really helped me engage more not only with writing multilingually but also in engaging with various areas of Afro-centric scholarship. And then seeing the likes of Rev. Arionne Williams (Chapel & Interfaith) and Andre Givens (Business) keeping really high standards but then also having a sense of joy that permeates the people around them has also influenced me,” said Johnson. 

Johnson hopes to see more people investing in adoption in the future and is passionate about sharing ways to engage with adoption issues, whether that be reading about and listening to the perspectives of adoptive families and former foster youth, volunteering with foster youth through various organizations, or simply raising awareness by talking about adoption with the people around you. 

He believes that steps should be taken to make adulthood an easier transition for foster kids/adoptees, from college preparation or vocational training to developing life skills or connecting them with community resources. 

“Just because a kid is without a family foundation doesn’t mean they should be stuck with higher risks of homelessness or under/unemployment, and there are so many resources in our communities that can help them if the connections are made,” Johnson said.

Rosie Butler stated that “[Johnson] is on a mission. He really does want to get the word out that there is a need for Forever Families. He truly reflects the “Education for Service” UIndy motto.” 


SLIDESHOW: Nursing alumni reflect on UIndy effect

From the NICU at Riley Hospital for Children to the surgery ward at IU Health Bloomington, University of Indianapolis nursing alumni are making an impact. Many of them keep in touch with UIndy School of Nursing faculty to talk about where their careers are taking them. Thanks to those wonderful connections, our UIndy family continues to grow.

  • Mandy Hardin-Morton is a certified birth doula, international board-certified lactation consultant and working on her RNC-OB. She works at Major Health Partners in Shelbyville in labor and delivery. “I love my nursing career and I owe it all to UIndy School of Nursing!”

Two University of Indianapolis Students Selected for the Class of 2022 Indiana AHEC Scholars Program

The Indiana AHEC Scholars program is a part of a national initiative to prepare tomorrow’s health professionals to become leaders in interprofessional, transformative practice who serve those who need it the most.

The competitive program is designed specifically for individuals who possess a strong drive to provide care to those living in rural and medically underserved communities across Indiana.

Over the two-year program, AHEC Scholars complete didactic and experiential training opportunities with a focus on rural and urban health care and caring for underserved populations with emphasis on the integration of five core issues – behavioral health integration, cultural competency, interprofessional education, practice transformation, and social determinants of health into practice.

Congratulations to the new class of Indiana AHEC Scholars.


Aviya Hawkins ’22 – Public Health

Abigail Wagner ’22 – Physical Therapy

IMG_9900 image1

For more information about the AHEC Scholars Program contact us at ahecsch@iupui.edu

UIndy Center for Aging & Community tapped for role in $1.3M grant

The University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community has been selected by the Indiana University School of Medicine as a partner in a 36-month venture to enhance, strengthen and expand supports for people with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias (ADRD) and their caregivers in 34 Indiana counties. This venture, called the Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative (ADPI), is supported by a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services

CAC’s role in ADPI is to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the project, which builds upon existing home and community-based social supports to maximize the ability of people with ADRD to remain independent in their communities.

“CAC has established expertise in project evaluation over the course of nearly 20 years,” said Dr. Ellen Miller, CAC executive director. “We are proud to be selected as a partner in the ADPI project and look forward to determining its impact on Indiana citizens living with dementia.” 

Other ADPI partners include Eskenazi Health; Central Indiana’s Area Agency on Aging (AAA) CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions and four additional Indiana AAAs (Aging & In-Home Services of Northeast Indiana, LifeStream Services, REAL Services, and Thrive Alliance); Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging; Indiana Professional Management Group; Greater Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association; Dementia Friends Indiana; and the Divisions of Aging and Disability & Rehabilitative Services of Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

To achieve their goal, ADPI partners will deploy a collaborative dementia care model and training interventions, which have been proven to reduce caregiver stress and improve quality of life. People with ADRD and their caregivers will receive coaching from community health workers serving as dementia care coordinator assistants, and in-home personal care workers will receive specialized training in dementia care.

ADPI will serve 1,000 individuals who are eligible for nursing home care, yet are living in the community aided by Medicaid in-home services and support. In particular, people with ADRD who live alone or are aging with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as Down’s syndrome, will receive support. In addition, the ADPI will provide training in dementia care to 500 personal care workers.  

The U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services contributed one million dollars in federal funds to the total grant, or 75 percent of the project’s total costs. The remaining 25 percent of the total—$333,333 in nongovernmental matching funds—was financed by the five partner Area Agencies on Aging. 

Get to Know: Selena Jackson-King ’22 (education)

Selena Jackson-King

During her sophomore year, Selena Jackson-King ’22 found herself in a situation many college students can relate to: deciding to switch her major. Jackson-King transferred into the School of Education and has had nothing but positive experiences since. “The professors and other students in the major are super easy to talk to and make the major even more fun than it already is,” she said. “It has already prepared me very well for my career’s next steps.”

A hallmark of the School of Education curriculum, Jackson-King immediately found herself in the field at a variety of different schools. This experience was beneficial “because it showed the different demographics of the area around me,” she said.

This field experience so early in her career has helped Jackson-King prepare for the day she has a classroom of her own. “The classes in the major really help build up your resources and knowledge for your own classroom,” she said. “They also really emphasize creating relationships with those around you, which I think is an important next step for my career.”

Jackson-King credits several professors within the School of Education for positively impacting her time within the School in a relatively short period. “I ask a lot of questions and I like to talk about the harder topics,” she said. “Professors like Dr. Crystal Thorpe and Dr. Jennifer Grace let those harder topics about the education system come to light. Both of these women have given me honest advice about my next moves in career choice due to their own experiences in the field.”

“Dr. [John] Somers pushed me to think outside of the box with projects and let the class really get to know one another since some of us were new to the major,” she added.

Jackson-King maintains an active presence on campus in addition to her academics. She is a member of the Black Student Association, participating in their events on campus and served as a resident assistant last year. “Being an RA was one of my favorite things that I’ve done on campus,” she said.

She focused on forming relationships with staff and students who lived in her dorm. The job helped teach her time management because she knew others were relying on her to do her job, and also allowed her to put her creativity and personality into practice, creating bulletin boards, flyers and programs based on the needs of the students who lived on her floor. “Even though last year ended abruptly, it’s one of the years that had the most impact on me,” she said.

Jackson-King hopes to “never work a day in my life” because she’s a firm believer that when you love what you do, you’re not working—and after switching her major to education, she believes she’s well on her way.

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