Q&A: Antonio Toliver ’23 (social work, religion)

Antonio Toliver 1Antonio Toliver ’23 is a resident assistant for the new Umoja Scholars living-learning community at UIndy. He’s also responsible for bringing the Black Male Initiative to campus.

Learn more about him and the work he’s doing to support fellow Hounds:

What are you studying and what extracurriculars have you been involved with at UIndy?

I’m a social work and religion double major, with a minor in entrepreneurship and concentrations in clinical and counseling studies and pre-theology. I was part of College Mentors for Kids. I am currently leading the Black Male Initiative (BMI) at UIndy. I am the person who decided that it was very needed at this school and found ways to make it happen. I am also a member of the Black Student Association (BSA). I am the Secretary for the Entrepreneurship Club (E-club). Outside of the University, I am the Youth Director at the Nazarene Missionary Baptist Church.

What motivated you to bring the Black Male Initiative to campus?

There were quite a few reasons why I was motivated to bring this organization to the University of Indianapolis. Before transferring here from Rose State College in Midwest City, Oklahoma, I was part of the Black Male Initiative (BMI) there and I was the President of an organization called “Brothers and Sisters in Action.” I led the Black Male Summit there and coordinated the meetings for BMI.

So, moving back to Indianapolis and attending the University of Indianapolis, I immediately wanted to find out if this organization was active on campus so I could be a part and possibly bring the Black Male Summit here. I soon realized that BMI did not exist, and a lot of people had never heard of a “Black Male Summit.” I looked at the opportunity as if it was a sign from God and it was my responsibility to do whatever it took to help my fellow brothers and peers. I looked at the retention rates for Black males and Black students and realized that this organization would be very beneficial for the overall betterment of the University. The University had Project Regalia, which is for the Black women on campus, but there wasn’t anything for Black males. My goal is to be the voice for the voiceless and to help those who look like me at any given time.

What activities will be happening in the upcoming academic year and how can people get involved with BMI? 

Our goal will be to stay consistent with checking on our fellow black males at the university. During this time that will be very important. Another goal of this organization will be to increase retention rates, so the academic aspect will be very important. We will do virtual grade checks if it is not possible in-person. We will host as many virtual events and in-person events as we can. Black Male Initiative will also create spaces for Black men to be safe and vulnerable to discuss anything they would like to discuss. Although this is an organization for Black male students, I want to emphasize that you do not have to be Black or a male to support this organization.

Antonio Toliver 2If you’re interested in getting involved, contact me via email (atoliver@uindy.edu) and/or social media (@uindy_bmi on Instagram). We will be at Welcome Week to kick off the fall semester and we will also have some type of informational event so people can get involved.

Why did you want to be an RA for the new Umoja Scholars living-learning community?

I wanted to be an RA for this new living-learning community because it’s right up my alley. It fits into my passion. It’s brand new and it is another way for me to help those who look like me the best way I can. It will not only be a learning experience and a chance for growth for the incoming freshmen, but also for me. I hope to gain more knowledge on how to assess the needs of others, leadership development, and mentor development.

What kinds of programming do you have planned for Umoja Scholars during the upcoming academic year?

There will be programs on topics surrounding the climate in which we live: personal hygiene, mental health; things of that nature. The Umoja community is very important because too many times are people of color left in the shadows and not given the proper opportunities that others are given. This community will allow those who are a part of the community to not get lost during their freshman year, feeling alone and helpless. This community is important and much needed. Community in general is important. It is always good to have support, but it is a different feeling when you have support from people that have experienced similar things to you or look like you.

Do you have any mentors on campus? If so, who are they and how have they helped you?

I consider Dr. Amber Smith (Vice President & Chief Inclusion and Equity Officer) and Andre Givens (Director of Undergraduate & Adult Enterprise and Engagement in the School of Business) to be my mentors. They have helped out a lot with guiding me during my time here thus far. They have helped me to find many different resources and ways to get the Black Male Initiative started, and also helped me be a part of a lot of different things that will make our university better.

2020 has been full of challenges – what motivates you to keep pushing forward?

Antonio Toliver 3Failure is not an option for me. Although I have been dealing with quite a lot in 2020 and have been hit on all sides, I can say that I am pressing toward the mark. I am a Christian and I strongly believe that my faith has kept me and continues to keep me during these difficult times.

What would you like to do following graduation?

Following graduation, I will continue my education with my master’s degree and then Doctorate. My goal is to have my own Family Practice counseling families and focusing on the youth. Mental health is very taboo in the African American community and I want to dismantle the stereotypes and make it more accepting. I have a lot that I want to do but just stay tuned.

How are your experiences at UIndy helping you prepare for the next steps in your career? 

I feel my experiences are making me more resilient and are teaching me life lessons and giving me the tools I will be able to use in the future to help others.

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen? 

My advice to freshmen would be to get involved. Don’t overwhelm yourself, but definitely get involved. It is said that being involved helps you to maintain and do great during your college career. I would also tell freshmen to leave fear at home. Come to college knowing that you can do anything you put your mind to. Be Bold, Be Free, Be Heard, Be You and most importantly LIVE!

Anything else you want to add? 

Currently, I am working on a brand that I will be starting in the near future called “Marked III.” It is an organization that allows people to understand that they are marked by labels we often give ourselves; labels the world places on us and traumas that we experience. Marked III will help people recognize that they are marked by the bad but also marked by the good and the greatness that is over their lives.

The goal of Marked III is to dismantle the negative connotation of being “Marked.” As a Black man, I am Marked by racial trauma, mental health, along with many other things. I was born with a target on my back so I want to help everyone understand that I Am Marked and you may be Marked as well, but being Marked WILL NOT stop us from accomplishing our goals and it can be fuel to the fire that burns inside of each and every one of us. I want my peers to know that I am open and available to anyone if they ever just need to talk. I may not have all the answers but I’m sure I can help find the answers that they seek.

Have a great semester, have a great year, and be safe! Change is coming.


The Black Male Initiative is affiliated with the Office of Inclusion & Equity at the University of Indianapolis. 

Residence Life launches fourth living-learning community

“I have gained some wonderful friends who share the same academic interests as me. I have also been able to academically challenge myself.” 

That’s the idea behind four Living-Learning Communities (LLCs) at the University of Indianapolis. 

Umoja LLCThe newest LLC, Umoja Scholars, was named after the Swahili word for “unity” and is designed for first-year students who identify as Black, African-American, or within the African diaspora.

Residence Director Rishawnda Archie co-created the Umoja LLC and will teach the new student experience during the 2020-21 academic year. She also advises the Project Regalia student organization. 

Rishawnda Archie, Residence Hall Director

Residence Director Rishawnda Archie

Archie was looking for ways to retain students of color and help students feel like they belong. She conducted focus groups with UIndy students to make sure the plans for the LLC were tailored to address specific needs. Launching in Fall 2020, the Umoja LLC is full with a waitlist for women, with spaces still available for men. 

“I’m excited to help Umoja Scholars learn more about their culture, have dialogues about their experiences, and connect to mentors and allies on and off-campus,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to seeing what the resident assistants’ program and what activities they’re coming up with for students.” 

Terrence Harewood working with students in classroom

Faculty Sponsor Terrence Harewood

As the faculty sponsor for Umoja, Terrence Harewood, associate professor of multicultural education, will lead activities in the Indianapolis community, such as visiting the Madam C. J. Walker Building, Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Park and Crispus Attucks High School. 

“My goal is to support Umoja scholars in successfully navigating their transition to and through college through a focus on healthy racial identity development,” Harewood said. “I want to help the scholars recognize and utilize the assets they bring with them from their families and communities to foster productive social and academic outcomes.”

Resident Director Vanesha Blackburn will oversee the Umoja LLC housed in Crowe Hall

“The students’ experience in the residence hall will make a profound difference in their collegiate journey. I am excited to work with each resident to create an exciting, fun, comfortable, and familiar space for them,” she said.  “I want this to be their home away from home, a place where they can engage their peers, discover their racial identities, and explore unknown avenues to aid their college experience,” she said. 

Three additional LLCs at UIndy are tailored for students in the Ron and Laura Strain Honors College, the R.B. Annis School of Engineering, and the School of Nursing. Each community has a designated area in the residence halls and students share at least one common course per semester. 

Retention of first-year students is a primary focus for each LLC. Over 90 percent of LLC students from the 2019-20 academic year plan to return to campus in Fall 2020.

Kyle Johnson, Assistant Director of Residence Life

Kyle Johnson, Assistant Director of Residence Life

Assistant Director of Residence Life Kyle Johnson oversees the LLC programs at UIndy. While 2020 has presented unexpected challenges, Johnson says the entire Student Affairs team is “doing everything we can to provide the best experience possible for students.” That includes a summer engagement plan with virtual check-ins for incoming students, faculty sponsors, and August kick-off events that provide opportunities to engage while observing safety measures related to COVID-19. 

The benefits of being in an LLC include early move-in, off-campus activities, like a walking history tour of Garfield Park, a dedicated staff of students, customized wraparound services, like self-care courses for nursing majors, networking opportunities, and special events like Pizza with the Prez, a leadership workshop, a community service event, and an end-of-the-year celebration. 

There are no additional costs associated with being in an LLC—just additional benefits. Click to learn more about LLCs at UIndy

Here’s what some Greyhounds have to say about their LLC experience:

  • “I was in class with the people who lived on my floor, so I was able to ask them questions before I went to my professor and typically someone was able to help me! I also established connections with faculty.”
  • “I learned how to create new and meaningful relationships with my peers.”
  • “I gained a strong group of friends that I can work with throughout my college time. Also, I increased my ability to retain information by helping others in the LLC.”
  • “I found a brand new community and family that I’ll never forget!” 

LLCs in the United States have historically been built around privilege, but Johnson has other plans in mind. 

“As we move forward, we’re interested and committed to adding more communities for underrepresented populations.

Learn more about Living-Learning Communities at UIndy. 

*If you’re a UIndy faculty or staff member who is interested in proposing an LLC, please contact Kyle Johnson at kyjohnson@uindy.edu. While the formal process begins during the Fall semester, we are happy to begin the conversation now. 

UIndy Department of English keeping united through creative solutions

By Savannah Harris


This winter semester, both poetry writing workshop (ENGL 370) and advanced poetry writing workshop (ENGL 470), taught by Associate Professor of English Dr. Liz Whiteacre, were tasked with creating poems that responded to various themes, prompts, and styles. After the class finished their construction, we arranged them together into chapbooks that reflected our work and represented our various sources of inspiration. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we could not finish out our final poem presentations in person, but UIndy Communications & Marketing came up with a creative solution that allowed us to share our hard work with the Greyhound community in an inventive way.

The “Poems from Home” project was presented to each student as an optional opportunity for practice in public poetry reading, an essential skill for any growing writer who is interested in sharing their work. We each chose a poem, either one we wrote or that of a well-known poet, to record ourselves reading. It was intended to be impactful and carry a positive message to encourage ourselves and our listeners during these uncertain times. My English major friends are extremely talented and I knew this project would turn out to be a wonderful expression of our individual and collective creativity.

The poem I chose to read, “The Seed of a Bonsai Tree”, is also the first poem in my own chapbook. It deals with the dichotomies between winter and warmth, fear and peace, and, most importantly, the idea that through every difficult situation is the universal certainty that we will persevere. It can be hard to keep this in mind with everything on pause, but a similar message of hope threads throughout each poem chosen by my fellow students. It shows that no matter what obstacle we are facing, creativity and unity are a constant—especially here at UIndy!

Click the video below to watch:


Hound Heroes: Carolyn Scott ’14 (nursing)

Carolyn Scott '14 nursingCarolyn Scott ’14 (nursing) was working at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis when officials in New York, one of the hardest-hit locations in the U.S., issued an emergency order and a plea for additional medical staff. Scott, who is also licensed to practice in New York, answered the call, working directly with COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Brooklyn for eight weeks.

This is her story, in her own words: 

I had been working in California for the last five years and missed my home, so I came back to Indiana in October of 2019. I returned to my roots at the hospital that I started bedside nursing – Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital. I bought a house, and was really happy with my job, learning and expanding my knowledge in the critical care department there. It felt really good to have settled back into my community in Indianapolis, and I had no plans to leave. I was working in Intermediate – ICU, where the management and my coworkers were really great at fostering my growth as a nurse. I enjoyed my travel contracts on the west coast, but no place felt quite like Eskenazi or matched the culture there. 

Then the pandemic happened, and I saw the growing need in New York. I had gotten my NY nursing license a couple of years ago, thinking I might travel there at some point, but never thought it would be for a virus infecting the city that would ultimately bring me there to work… 

I continued working at Eskenazi, and our cases of COVID were rising, but they were nowhere near the extreme rates happening in New York. I received emails from Andrew Cuomo asking for healthcare professionals to consider coming out to help, and hearing him speak on the news really did compel me to consider going more. I wrestled with the decision for three weeks. On one hand, I was just getting settled in my new home and was so happy with my current position at the hospital. 

What if I got sick, and I had no one in the city that could help take care of me…? What if the conditions were really bad and I couldn’t handle it…? What if there wasn’t enough PPE? What if I had no job to return to after my contract there? What if I got it and was one of the rare young people who had serious complications and never came back…? 

I didn’t want to leave my family, friends, coworkers, and community here in Indy, but after seeking counsel, speaking with different people in my life, and praying/ meditating, I decided I needed to go. I always wanted to do as much as I could with the nursing degree I got from UIndy and put my skills to work and serve those in need. As much as I knew there was still need here in Indy…there was even more need in New York right then. 

Everyone has their role to play, and as a fairly healthy, single woman with no children or spouse that relies on me, I felt I was the exact person that should heed the call to go to help. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, and I felt an immense sadness to leave Eskenazi Hospital. My last shift, I tried to keep my composure but broke down as I turned in my badge knowing I might never get to work at my favorite hospital again. I hoped I might be able to get a small leave of absence to go and help in NY and then return to Eskenazi, but their requirements for notice changed once the pandemic came, and I was ineligible for rehire.

I questioned if I made the right decision and felt a lot of guilt. What if it got really bad here, and I had left them? Ultimately, I knew Eskenazi (with their great leadership and staff) would be okay, and I felt confident that I would be more useful in New York during this time. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I knew that if I didn’t go, I would always look back and think I could’ve helped, but I decided to stay where I felt more comfortable, and I would be disappointed in my decision. 

Carolyn Scott '14 nursing - University of IndianapolisAs difficult as the decision was, after the first couple shifts I knew I had 100% made the right decision in going to the frontlines. The hospital I was at in Brooklyn, New York was converting unit after unit to COVID ICU. I had seen this already at Eskenazi, as the need for my critical care beds were needed, but this was a whole new level. For intake reports, it was hardly even necessary to ask about the patient’s COVID status…everyone was positive. 

I was impressed with how the resident staff embraced us newcomers. They had been working so hard already. You could see the exhaustion and weariness on many of their faces; the effects of what they had already seen and been through. We had been starting to have more cases in Indianapolis, but they were under a major surge and had been picking up extra shifts to try to meet the staffing needs. They NEEDED more staff, they needed reinforcements, and it felt really good to be there, and hopefully take a little of the workload off of them. 

As difficult as it was, I would do it again. I am so proud of all the wonderful people I had the privilege to work alongside in Indiana and New York, and all those that stepped up everywhere during this pandemic. I’m also beyond grateful for all the people who encouraged me, supported me, prayed for me, and sent their love to me. It really was what got me through the dark times.

I worked my last shift of my 8-week “COVID-crisis” contract Thursday, June 4th at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Brooklyn Methodist. I thought I was going to go home to Indianapolis for a week and then return, but I am no longer extending at this time. As the hospitals try to plan for the future and determine their staffing needs for the coming weeks and months, I am trying to be patient and rebalance at home for whatever comes next. I have been talking with my recruiter about other contracts possibly in D.C. or back to NY. I’m glad to have this time to relax and catch up with my friends and family though.

Carolyn Scott '14 nursing - COVID responseUltimately, none of this would have been possible without my education at UIndy. I often think about how fortunate I was to be able to get my nursing degree. There are so many more talented and hardworking people out there that lack the opportunities I was afforded, and I want to never take my privilege to obtain my degree for granted. My parents believed in me, even when I had my doubts on if I would be able to make it through nursing school, and that was such an important part of my success, in school and now in my career. They were understandably hesitant in the beginning for me to go to New York, but once we discussed it more, they gave me their support in my decision. 

I don’t think I realized how lucky I was to get to go to UIndy until I first started working as a nurse, and it finally clicked. Wow, I get to be a nurse. I absolutely love my profession. I love being able to care for people, and trying to help them feel better. My education at UIndy prepared me for that. I actually think of many of my nursing professors while I’m working; different things that they said during lectures glued in my mind that I’ll recall as I’m caring for my patients. The textbooks taught me the knowledge I needed, but I don’t remember reading specific chapters; I remember the experiences and wisdom that my professors shared and the clinicals that made me understand what it really meant to be a good nurse. 

I received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Indianapolis, but it gave me so much more than that. It helped me recognize that I have been given an enormous gift of an excellent education, and I am capable of so much because of that.

Learn more about the UIndy School of Nursing

UIndy alumni making waves with Silver Screen film podcast

Katie Gainey ’11 (English, theatre minor) and Jared Boomer ’15 (communication, electronic media concentration) are two University of Indianapolis alumni and friends of nearly seven years who have recently started collaborating on a podcast all about movies and the media. 

Realizing how much fun they had bantering about movies, they launched the Silver Screen Podcast in 2019. The weekly podcast focuses on movies and series ranging from upcoming releases to classic films. The pair dedicate each episode to a specific movie and discuss the synopsis, ratings, reviews and their own personal commentary alongside these professional opinions. You can also expect to hear them discuss relevant social issues, news about movies and actors and plenty of lighthearted laughs. Among other episodes, Gainey and Boomer have covered Netflix’s “Tiger King,” “Toy Story,” “The Big Lebowski,” and “Contagion.” The “Contagion” episode discussed the Coronavirus weeks before social distancing started and remains their most popular with over 500 downloads. 

Recording Equipment (1)

We asked the Silver Screen Podcast hosts a few questions:

Q: Who are your favorite actors and directors? 

Gainey: “I could go on for days about this question but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum. It should be mentioned that we cannot seem to record an episode of the podcast where I fail to mention Tom Hanks. I adore him. He is a phenomenal actor and human being and the highlight of 2019 was when I got to attend some of the Indy 500 festivities and he came to Indianapolis to film a segment on the ‘Today Show.’ I got to be in the same room as him and hear his voice. I was elated!”

“As far as the classic actors that I can’t get enough of I would say Audrey Hepburn is my number 1 of all time, others include Vivien Leigh, (I was named after the actress and a character she played) Katharine Hepburn, Angela Lansbury, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck and Fred Astaire. Actors of today that I could watch forever would include Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Rachel McAdams, Kate Winslet, Octavia Spencer, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Eddie Redmayne, Leonardo DiCaprio, Timothee Chalamet. Favorite directors would be Stanley Donen, Vincente Minnelli, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Damien Chazelle, Greta Gerwig and Olivia Wilde.”

Boomer: “One of my favorite actors is Tom Hanks. I am also a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling, Saoirse Ronan and Emma Stone. For favorite directors, Christopher Nolan is my favorite director, and I also really like the Coen Brothers, Damien Chazelle, Wes Anderson and Steven Spielberg.”

Q: Did you have any mentors at UIndy?

Gainey: “I loved the English Department staff and had a great experience with the Theatre Department as well. The professors that had the biggest impression on me were Dr. Jennifer Camden, Dr. Bill Dynes, Dr. Kyoko Amano, and Jim Ream [retired associate professor of theatre]. Jen Camden and I still get together a few times a year and I regularly communicate with Dr. Dynes through social media. Dr. Amano is now at another university but we keep in touch through social media. And one of the best memories this past summer was visiting Jim and his wife, Paula, with a few of my theatre friends for a birthday party. I had the most classes with Dr. Camden and she is fully the reason I was able to complete my portfolio and graduate. She set a strong example both personally and professionally.”

Boomer: “One of my biggest mentors was Professor Scott Uecker. Scott is in charge of the radio station on campus, 88.7 WICR, and also teaches a variety of communication classes. We are still close even five years after graduation and since I work for a radio station, he helps me out with career advice from time to time. Another mentor would be Dr. Robert Gobetz (or Doc. G. as he is affectionately called) who is no longer at the university but taught a variety of communication classes that I had a lot of interest in. One more would be Dr. Jonathan Evans in the Philosophy and Religion department. Although I only had one class with him, he was my instructor for a Spring Term trip to London and Paris that was one of my best experiences in college.”

Q: How do you stay connected with UIndy?

Gainey: “I’m extremely proud that I attended UIndy. I won Homecoming Queen in college so I always get excited to hear updates about Homecoming festivities and stop by if I’m in town. I was a member of the Student Alumni Association so any time I get a call from students I like to talk to them about their experience. My cousin is currently a professor there, (Dr. Kara Cecil. She is super involved with the COVID-19 crisis right now since her degree is in Public Health) and every fall I take the online Communiversity class with Dr. Camden.” 

Boomer: “I still come back to campus from time to time to help mentor Communication department students. I also usually try to make it back on campus for at least one football and basketball game a season and I rock a UIndy license plate!” 

The Silver Screen Podcast recording session

The Silver Screen Podcast is available on Spotify, Apple, Stitcher, and more. If you’re interested in the Silver Screen Podcast, want more information, or feel like voting what movie they should cover next, be sure to check out their social media:

Twitter – @PodcastSilver

Facebook – https://bit.ly/36XxIym

Instagram – podcastsilver

2020 Service-Learning Awards honor outstanding students, community partner

The Center for Service-Learning & Community Engagement announced its annual awards honoring students and community partners for their dedication to serving local populations who are most in need through service-learning courses. 

Kendall Beckstein

Kendall Beckstein

Kendall Beckstein ’21 (DPT) received the 2020 Outstanding Graduate Student Service-Learning Award. Ed Jones, assistant professor in the Krannert School of Physical Therapy, nominated Beckstein for her participation and leadership at the University of Indianapolis Physical Therapy Student Outreach Clinic. The clinic is a free, student-run clinic that provides primary care-based services for the uninsured and underserved in the Indianapolis area.

“Kendall has served her community in multiple ways through this clinic,” said Jones, who serves as faculty advisor for the program.

Leadership positions on the clinic’s board are filled by students to run the operation and organization of the services. Beckstein took on leadership roles and eventually moved up to the position of board chair.

“In this role, Kendall’s star has been even brighter. She has pushed for initiatives to improve the clinic in multiple areas including research, innovative program changes, and organizational changes. In addition, Kendall has worked to engage other students in the PT program and found innovative ways to encourage their involvement and volunteer their time,” Jones said, noting that she stayed ahead of the curve during the coronavirus pandemic by making the decision to suspend services for safety even before it was mandated by governing bodies.

Morgan De La Rosa

Morgan De La Rosa

Morgan De La Rosa ’20 (theatre major, sociology, child & youth programs minors) was honored with the 2020 Outstanding Undergraduate Student Service-Learning Award for her practicum with the RightFit Program at Central Catholic School.

Colleen Wynn, assistant professor of sociology, noted that De La Rosa was initially meant to assist in the running of the program, but had to quickly expand her role.

“By week two, Morgan was already running her own programs,” Wynn said. “Morgan also has been so reflexive about her time at CCS and with RightFit. She has thoughtful analyses in her weekly journal and always makes such wonderful connections between her readings and her own experiences. This learning experience is what I hope for with all practicum students, and it’s a joy to watch Morgan having this experience, even if it was much more responsibility than she expected when she signed on.”

Community Health Network Rehabilitation Clinic at UIndy received the 2020 Outstanding Community Partner Award. Trent Cayot,  assistant professor of exercise science, noted the unique experiential learning opportunities provided by the clinic during the past several years. Physical therapists at CHN’s clinic collaborate with the University of Indianapolis exercise science program through the Post Rehabilitation Exercise Program (P.R.E.P.). 

“The P.R.E.P. allows undergraduate exercise science students to train clients in a personal training setting who have been discharged as a patient from the Community Health Network Rehabilitation Clinic. The real-world experience that the P.R.E.P. provides our students is second to none,” Cayot said.

The Center for Service-Learning & Community Engagement continues to support faculty through services that meet their current curricular service-learning needs during the coronavirus pandemic. The Center is also exploring ways to bring its semi-annual Community Partners Fair to faculty and students virtually or through other means.

We all have a role to play: Advancing inclusion and equity

Celebration of the Flags at the University of Indianapolis

Everyone has a role to play when it comes to advancing inclusion and equity. Each of our roles is different and should be tailored to what we bring to the table and how we can use our strengths to advance an effort as important as inclusion. 

That’s what Amber Smith, Vice President for Inclusion and Equity, wants the UIndy community to know right now. 

“Everyone is at a different level in their cultural fluency, and everyone is unique,” she said. “Sometimes people are paralyzed or struggle with inaction because they’re trying to be or do something that isn’t aligned with who they are. It’s important to be authentically who you are, and getting involved should still reflect who you are. Start where you are and grow to who you want to become.” 

There are numerous ways to get involved in this issue, says Smith, who moderated a virtual town hall titled, “Profiled: The Plight of Blacks in America” in June. 

Smith was joined by faculty, staff, and outside guests for an action-based discussion about how to be agents of change for the better. The conversation provided resources and direction for people who are wondering how they can help or what they can do to make a difference.

“This is about confronting structural racism. It starts with a conversation, but we can’t end there. We must have accountability built into these plans,” Smith said. 

The Office of Inclusion and Equity will also host experiential education opportunities for faculty, staff, and students in the upcoming academic year. These workshops will be tailored to specific groups and will help individuals define the roles they can play in this important work. Check back for updates about these initiatives. 

Smith says the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped the work being done through the Office of Inclusion and Equity. Workshops and development opportunities have been transitioned to virtual meeting spaces so the UIndy community can continue to engage in regular discussions about inclusion in a non-threatening way. 

“We’ve got work to do, and I’m looking for partners,” Smith said. “This is a crisis for humanity. We are all equals in this work.” 

Read more: Amber Smith looks to turn small wins into big gains in Inclusion & Equity

Related: Anti-racism resources for white people


At the University of Indianapolis, we strive to create an environment where everyone can feel safe to share their thoughts, experiences, and aspirations. 

The Office of Inclusion and Equity hosts events for all students throughout the academic year, including #BelongSpace, a vodcast that engages UIndy around current issues affecting underrepresented populations. The office also works along with Registered Student Organizations such as Black Male Initiative, International Student Organization, Black Student Association, Pride, Student Organization of Latinos, etc. to create events for their organizations. 

Contact the Office of Inclusion & Equity at oie@uindy.edu with questions or concerns. 

Reflector recognized with 29 awards

The Reflector (print and online publications) won 29 state-level journalism awards in April/May from the Indiana Collegiate Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists Best in Indiana Journalism competitions. Congratulations to these students!
*Best Continuous Coverage of a Single Story, Second Place, “IndyGo Red Line,” Madison Gomez, Justus O’Neil, and Hallie Gallinat
*Best Editorial Cartoon, Third Place, “Trump’s Wall: Brick-by-Brick, Shayla Cabalan
*Best Entertainment Column or Review, Second Place, “Indiana Fear Farm,” Tony Reeves
*Best Entertainment Column or Review, Third Place, “Game Grumps: The Final Party Tour,” Ethan Gerling
*Best Photo Feature, First Place, “Students Create On-Campus Barber Shops,” Tony Reeves
*Best Front Page, First Place, April 3 Front Page, Zoë Berg
*Best Informational Graphic, First Place, “2019 Indianapolis City-County Council District 16 Election,” Ethan Gerling, Justus O’Neil
*Best News Photo, First Place, “UIndy Drag Show 2019: Ty Johnson as Fruit Tea,” Jayden Kennett
*Best News Photo, Third Place, “Youth Climate Strike,” Tony Reeves
*Best Non-Deadline News Story, Second Place, “Marion County Marijuana Possession Cases Receive Policy Changes,” Noah Crenshaw
*Best Opinion Column, First Place, “Conservatism’s Core Values Still Have Impact,” Tate Jones
*Best Overall Design, First Place, October 30 Issue, Staff of The Reflector
*Best Review, Second Place, “Hozier: ‘Wasteland, Baby!’ Review, Abby Land
*Best Single Issue, Second Place, December 11 Issue, Staff of The Reflector
*Best Sports Feature Story, First Place, “Sue Willey, VP of Intercollegiate Athletics, Reflects on Time at UIndy before Retirement,” Jayden Kennett and Emily Del Campo
*Best Sports News Story, Third Place, “Baseball and Softball Teams Set Pre-Season Goals,” Jacob Walton
*Best Sports Page, Second Place, April 17 Sports Page, Cassandra Lombardo
*Best Sports Page, Third Place, September 25 Sports Page, Jacob Walton
*Best Themed Issue, Second Place, August 21, 2019, Issue, Staff of The Reflector
*Division II Newspaper of the Year, Third Place, The Reflector
*Best Full Color Display Ad, Second Place, College Crossing Spring Ad, Tate Jones
*Advertising Publication of the Year, Third Place, The Reflector
SPJ Best in Indiana Journalism
*Breaking News Reporting, Second Place, “Jewish-Israeli Students Find Swastika in Residence Hall,” Jayden Kennett
*Sports Reporting, Third Place, Sports Reporting, Abby Land, Jayden Kennett, Emily Del Campo
*Editorial Writing, First Place, “Gentrification Hurts Low-Income Hoosiers, But It Doesn’t Have To,” Ally Nickerson
*News Photography, Second Place, “Youth Climate Strike,” Kiara Conley and Tony Reeves
*Page One or Cover Design, Third Place, Front Page Design, Zoë Berg and Noah Crenshaw
*Best Design Other Than Page One or Cover, Second Place, February and April Issues, Zoë Berg
*Graphics or Illustration, Third Place, “Sue Willey Announces Retirement,” Ethan Gerling

BUILD program celebrates 30-year anniversary

Composition with books on the table

For 30 years, UIndy students with learning-related disabilities have been able to find full support in earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree through the BUILD program (short for Baccalaureate for University of Indianapolis Learning Disabled).

While all students with learning disabilities have reasonable accommodations available to them at no additional charge through the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, the BUILD program offers accommodations that are significantly more profound.

“BUILD is a rare program,” says Director Betsy Fouts. “There are a handful of programs like it in the US in 2020. BUILD has been here for 30 years, which shows how innovative UIndy is.”

Fouts says the program has helped approximately 1,400 students be successful in academics and social interactions over the last three decades.

Services provided to students include one-on-one scheduled tutoring and drop-in tutoring, specialized skills courses, adapted test-taking accommodations, and much more.

Learn more about the BUILD program and how to apply

“I am continually amazed at the determination and perseverance that our students exhibit on a daily basis,” adds BUILD Administrative Assistant Mary Catherine Davis. “They, along with our director and tutoring staff, continually look for creative ways to support and complement their unique learning styles. When some students would be tempted to give up, BUILD students rise to the challenge to ensure academic and social success in their personal journey.”

Read BUILD student testimonials

Register now for the 2020 BUILD Preview Day 

UIndy mourns passing of Connie Mikuski-Demory ’13

FB_IMG_1588443736067The University of Indianapolis was saddened to learn of the passing of Connie Mikuski-DeMory ’13 (masters in occupational therapy) on April 24, 2020 due to complications arising from COVID-19. 

After graduating from Western Michigan University with a degree in business administration, Mikuski-DeMory’s work in customer service helped her discover her passion for working with people. She wanted to commit herself to a career where she could make a daily impact on people’s lives, which led her to the field of occupational therapy.

Her time at the University of Indianapolis was marked by active involvement in the School of Occupational Therapy, where she left an impact on all who knew her. 

“I remember her as spirited, passionate and determined,” said Dr. Lucinda Dale, professor in the School of Occupational Therapy, “She was a real asset to our research group. She had a great sense of humor and witty sarcasm that always made us laugh. She excelled with her attention to detail, helped keep the group on track and actively contributed to see our project to publication.”


As part of her graduate research, Mikuski-DeMory was one of the authors involved with Dr. Dale in publishing the article, “Outcomes of a pilates-based intervention for individuals with lateral epicondylosis: A pilot study,” in the Journal, Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation.

“Our hearts are heavy as we think about Connie’s passing and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends,” said Dr. Kate DeCleene Huber, associate dean of the College of Health Sciences and Chair of the School of Occupational Therapy. “Her personality and sense of humor brought so much energy to the classroom and to our profession. Connie’s dedication and passion for occupational therapy will forever be inspirational.”

Mikuski-DeMory remained in Indianapolis after graduating and pursued her career as an occupational therapist at a skilled nursing facility, where she became the Director of Rehabilitation. She was also a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and continued her learning by attending multiple AOTA conferences. Connie’s passion for improving others’ lives as an occupational therapist was shown through her interaction with patients, bringing a smile to their face when providing care and even dancing with them when the moment was right. She was able to share her love for life during any situation. She was settling into her home in Indianapolis when she married her husband, Michael, in November 2019. 

IMG_0519“She will always be remembered as a person who stayed true to herself even when life placed some of the hardest obstacles to overcome,” said classmate Kristy Ulm ’13 (occupational therapy). “She was someone you could have fun with and laugh with, while also being serious and genuine when needing someone to listen and talk to during difficult situations.”

Ulm reflected that Mikuski-DeMory would often say, “Follow your heart,” when offering advice on making a difficult decision or trying to overcome something that seems impossible.

“She was someone who never gave up on living and loving life and bringing that to others’ lives through her career as an occupational therapist,” said Ulm. “Connie was a true example of what it means to overcome the most difficult obstacles and really ‘living life to its fullest.’”


Special thanks to Dr. Lucinda Dale, Dr. Kate DeCleene Huber, Kristy Ulm, Lindsay Emery, Trisha Donaghey, and Tyra Shantz for sharing their memories of their student, classmate, colleague and friend, Connie Mikuski-DeMory.  Also, thank you to the UIndy MOT Class of 2013 for their generous gift in Connie’s honor towards occupational therapy student scholarships.


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