First-Gen UIndy student benefits from Lilly scholarship

Siang Tha LenUniversity of Indianapolis student Siang Tha Len ’23 (elementary education) is one of several first-generation college students in the Hoosier State to receive a “Realizing the Dream” scholarship, made possible by Lilly Endowment and facilitated by Independent Colleges of Indiana.

“This scholarship grants me resources I need to pursue my career,” she said. “My vision is that I will become a teacher one day and help my community. I also wish to return to my home village (Zephai) to teach basic English voluntarily. The scholarship is helping me a lot financially since my family is low-class. It reduces the tremendous amount of stress and worries that I have about my tuition. This scholarship lets me know that there is someone out there believing in me and encourages me to try harder to make my dreams come true.”

Len thanks her parents for their unyielding support.

“They left our home country and sacrificed their lives to give their children an opportunity for the American Dream.”

Several other mentors also helped her along the way:

“I want to thank Jody Rose (my advisor) for nominating me as a UIndy recipient. Words cannot express how grateful I am.  I also want to say thank you to Ms. Sara Berghoff. She is my high school teacher. She’s always there for me through thick and thin. As a first-generation college student, I had no idea where to begin my life, but she listened to my stories and helped me figure it out. Thank you Ms. Berghoff for always welcoming me into your room no matter what kind of day it was. I want to thank you for instilling passion in me and believing in me. I want to be able to influence students and be a positive role model like you were to me. You have done more for me than you’ll ever know.”

Learn more about UIndy’s School of Education

Senior spotlight: Cassie Kury ’21 (exercise science)

Cassie Kury will be graduating this May 2021. She is majoring in exercise science with a concentration in pre-athletic training, and a minor in psychology. Throughout her time in the exercise science program, Kury has enjoyed increasing her knowledge to greater heights of how the body moves, how it responds to exercise and how exercise is medicine.

“Not only does the flow of the program’s content build upon itself well from course to course, it has prepared me to apply my knowledge to the real world post-grad, as well as creating opportunities for me while still in the program,” she said.

About mid-way through the program, exercise science students must take the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) exam. This turned out to be an important turning point for Kury.

“This exam not only put my application of classroom knowledge to the test, but opened up an entirely new doorway I never saw myself stepping through; being a personal trainer! The quickly evolving world of exercise already excited me, but having this credential has given me the confidence to share my knowledge and apply it in order to help others reach their goals, which has been an incredibly rewarding process thus far,” she said.

Kury’s end goal as an athletic trainer is to be a part of the training staff for either a gymnastics or swimming and diving team, whether at a collegiate or professional level. Connecting classroom knowledge to athletic training has come with ease, and Kury had an abundance of opportunities to gain experience working with athletes from the program faculty, including an internship for her capstone.

“During the last semester of the program, students must complete an internship for their capstone. At first I was a little intimidated by the requirement, but cannot express how grateful I was for the experience,” she reflected. “I had already gained so much knowledge and hands-on experience from being able to work under a collegiate athletic trainer. I truly didn’t think there’d be a better use of my time right now to prepare me for my Masters of Athletic Training program here at Uindy in the summer!”

Upon exiting the program, students must take either the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) exam, or the Exercise Physiologist Certification (EPC) exam. Kury chose to take the CSCS, not only to fulfill her graduation requirements, but it has now led her to some amazing opportunities post-grad that she cannot elaborate on too much yet.

“The program guarantees that when you graduate, you not only have a diploma from an accredited and respected program, but you have these extra credentials that not only increase your appeal to employers, but also increase your confidence and potential professional pathways,” said Kury.

A lifelong athlete in gymnastics, Kury started her UIndy career on the women’s swimming and diving team. Although she decided to step away from her athletic pursuits on the team, she continues to provide for her teammates. Classes such as ‘Exercise Science Programming and Management,’ and ‘Strength and Conditioning’ combined with her diving knowledge have given Kury the tools to properly analyze the sport, critically think about the athletes’ needs, and weigh all their other stressors as she creates their programming.

“Our head dive coach has been incredibly grateful to still have around and be complimenting his depthful diving knowledge well with my exercise science background,” she said.

Kury is grateful for the scholarships and grants that made her UIndy education possible.

“I have graciously received both academic and athletic scholarships every year at UIndy. They have not only made college possible for me, but provided peace of mind throughout. They allowed me to focus just on academics and athletics my first two years of the program, not feeling like I needed to start working during the school year until after my sophomore year,” she said.

Kury reflected on her years as an athlete, which helped her build discipline and time management.

“Once you leave home and enter college though, your freedom is nearly endless. Diving not only forced me to continue with wise time management, but held me accountable because I had gained the sense of succeeding for something bigger than myself,” she said “The camaraderie of going through years of early mornings, long hours, exhaustion, cries, laughs, wins, losses, and every up and down in between by each others’ sides gives you such a strong connection with your teammates, and a strong conviction to succeed as one rather than just one part. The human connections that I have made within this team will last me far past college years.”

Senior spotlight: Andrew Rattay, nursing

Andrew Rattay at Mt. Baldy, California

Andrew Rattay at Mt. Baldy, California

Leading up to December commencement, we’ll be featuring stories & reflections from the University of Indianapolis senior class. 

Andrew Rattay ’18 (nursing) has plenty of interests beyond his major. He started his own company, “Lively Media,” which honed his entrepreneurship and filmography skills, and he wrote a song related to research on compassion fatigue for his capstone project. And he might even be learning to fly sometime soon!

Julianne Wright, assistant professor of nursing, said: “Andrew is an extraordinary young man who treats patients, staff, faculty and fellow students with grace and compassion. He is uplifting and always goes the extra mile.”

Q. What student groups or activities have you been involved in during your time at UIndy?

A. I was once a part of the student-led UIndy a capella group Indy Aces! It really opened up my social connections at UIndy and allowed me to grow my confidence as a UIndy Greyhound!

Q. Could you talk about your song “Compassion Fatigue” and how that came about?

A. My song came about during a clinical research project related to compassion fatigue during my clinical rotation on the medsurge unit with Dr. Julianne Wright. Dr. Wright said we could be as creative as we wanted to with the project so I took that as a challenge! I was inspired to write a song about the topic and I later used it as a foundation for my capstone project as the research was still relevant. I’ve since made and posted a music video on YouTube and a lot of my peers, as well as professors, love it! I believe it serves as a reminder for all health professions to never lose sight of the reality of patient care. I hope the video will go viral one day!

Q. What are your plans after graduation?

A. I hope to work in the critical care unit at one of the community hospitals in the area. I also hope to grow my company as I take on more clients in need of professional video work. I also hope to obtain my pilot’s license in the near future! That’s another little side goal of mine – to fly!

Q. Is there anyone at UIndy who has had an impact on you?

A. My peer Moises Sanchez has always driven me to be my best. He always seemed to push me to “stay the course.” He would agree that our goals have always been very similar and that we always agreed we would “see each other at the top” of the theoretical mountain of goal attainment.

Q. Would you recommend UIndy’s nursing program?

A. Yes, absolutely! The program wasn’t just a way to obtain a nursing degree. It was a way to create amazing relationships. The professors were like family and the interdisciplinary across other majors was very powerful in my professional development.

Senior spotlight: Collin Bopp, sport management

Leading up to December commencement, we’ll be featuring stories & reflections from the senior class.

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Collin Bopp ’18 is a sport management major.

Q. What student groups or activities have you been involved in during your time at UIndy?

Being involved with CRU has helped me grow in my Christian faith and become more comfortable with sharing my faith, while helping others to grow in theirs.

I’m also the founder and president of UIndy Curling Club. Starting this club was a challenge in and of itself as I’ve never curled before. Through studying sport management here at UIndy, I have been able to apply what I have learned. The opportunity to start and run this club has turned some big dreams into reality. UIndy has given me the opportunity to succeed while enhancing my experience on campus and many other students as well.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

My plans are not finalized as I am waiting to hear back on a couple jobs. My ultimate plan is to be a missionary in Latin America.

Q: What is your advice to incoming freshmen?

Don’t stress about everything. Have fun, get involved, be responsible. Leave your mark on UIndy before you leave. Start your first year and not your last.

Senior spotlight: Sanjay Daley, Applied Sociology

Leading up to December commencement, we’ll be featuring stories & reflections from the University of Indianapolis senior class. 

Sanjay DaleySanjay Daley ’18 is an applied sociology graduate student, a member of the track and field team and a graduate assistant coaching sprinters on the team.

“The track and field team enhanced my student experience here by welcoming me after I transferred from another school. Even though the schools were once rivals, I entered a team that treated me like family and for that UIndy will always have a special place in my heart.”

My advice to incoming freshmen: “Have fun, but also work hard in your studies. College is where you find yourself. Time management is the key to a successful college career. Moreover, you need to balance personal and student time to have a memorable college experience.”

Senior spotlight: Taylor Kleyn, biology & environmental science

Kleyn_Taylor (1)Leading up to December commencement, we’ll be featuring stories & reflections from the senior class.

Taylor Kleyn ’18 is a biology and environmental science double major and chemistry minor. He will attend Indiana University School of Medicine in fall 2019.

Q. What student groups or activities have you been involved in during your time at UIndy?

A. I have been a member of the cross country and track and field teams all four years at UIndy. I have loved being on the team and all the friendships that have developed as a result. In addition, I have been a Student Athletic advisory Committee representative for the cross country team.

I have also been involved with the Honors College and am currently on the executive board. The Honors College gave me the opportunity to visit Belize on a spring term trip which has been one of the most impactful experiences I have had.

My participation in Film Club allowed me to pursue creative projects outside of my normal science-oriented majors.

Q. Is there anyone at UIndy who had an impact on you?

A. I have had so many teachers who have had an impact on me that it is hard to name them all.

Dr. Peter Murphy taught an honors philosophy class on charitable giving which opened my eyes to poverty on a global scale and how many factors should go into deciding on a charity. This class really helped me realize that medicine is what I want to pursue.

Dr. Katherine Stickney was my organic chemistry teacher. I was not ever a huge fan of chemistry until I took her class. The ways she showed how cool chemistry can be have really increased my appreciation and passion for science.

Dr. Levi Mielke and Dr. Sandy Davis are two other science professors who I have had for several classes; they are excellent, and I admire their expertise in their respective subject areas. In addition, the entire science department at UIndy has been outstanding.

Q. Would you recommend UIndy’s biology program to prospective students?

A. Absolutely. I have loved every single professor I have had at UIndy. The small classroom environment allows you to pursue closer relationships with professors, which helps promote learning and makes for a fun and friendly environment.

Q. Final thoughts as you look back on your time at UIndy?

A. I have loved my time at UIndy, and coming here has been one of the best decisions I have made. UIndy has given me the tools to pursue my graduate aspirations. Being a student athlete here has also been amazing, and I would highly recommend UIndy to anyone who wants to focus on academics but still loves to compete in athletics.

Senior spotlight: Vania Wyatt, sport management

vania290Leading up to December commencement, we’ll be featuring stories & reflections from the University of Indianapolis senior class.

Vania Wyatt ’18 (sport management) will be the featured student speaker during the Dec. 15 commencement ceremony.

Q. What student groups or activities have you been involved in during your time at UIndy?

A. RSO: Project Regalia, Resident Assistant, Residence Hall Association. These organizations enhanced my communication skills and helped me build relationships among the students here.

Q. What internships have you completed as a student?

A. Internships: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Ticket Sales Operations and University of Indianapolis Game Day Operations/Facilities. The skills that I gained were great organizational leadership skills, communication, critical thinking and time management.

Q. What are your plans after graduation? What’s your dream job?

A. My plans after graduation are to go into corporate partnership to work in sponsorship activation and also start a non-profit sport organization for youth.

Q. Is there anyone at UIndy who had an impact on you?

A. Over the years here I have impacted a lot of students too long to list here at UIndy. Moreover, I was impacted by the Professional Edge Staff, especially D’ana Downing, Jennifer Smith, Meredith Fox, Timeshia Key, Alexandria Kennedy, Erin Jackson, Arionne Williams and the list goes on. The ladies I listed have always been supportive of me and helped guide me to be the best I can be during my college experience.

Q. Would you recommend UIndy’s sport management program to prospective students?

A. Yes, I would definitely recommend the sport management program to students. This program teaches students the necessary skills to make a change in the sports industry. They will receive guidance along their journey in this program that will be above and beyond what would have been expected. The UIndy sport management program is very supportive and helpful and will prepare each student with their own endeavors to gain entry into the sports industry.

Q. Advice for incoming freshmen?

A. Think of ways this college experience can be beneficial to you and your goals that you have set for yourself. In addition to having fun, enjoy the experience from your first day to your last day.

Senior spotlight: Alexis Stella, professional writing

AlexisStellaprofileLeading up to December commencement, we’ll be featuring stories & reflections from the University of Indianapolis senior class. 

Alexis Stella ’18 is a professional writing major with a minor in creative writing.

Q. What student groups or activities have you been involved in during your time at UIndy?

The Reflector (Distribution & Business Manager)
Joining the school paper helped open myself up not only as a writer but as a professional. It gave me the opportunity to meet exceptional students, faculty, and visiting guests.

Kellogg Writers Series (class)
Being able to interact with published authors and getting a one-on-one with them broadened my student experience. I was given the opportunity to interact with individuals whom if not for the class I would have never met.

Q. What internships have you participated in?

Post-graduation I will be interning for MashCraft Brewing as their social media and graphic design intern. This will help strengthen both my media outreach skills as well as refine my design abilities.

Q. What’s your dream job?  

My dream job is to work for Amphorae Publishing Group in St. Louis as their developmental editor.

Q. Has anyone at UIndy made an impact on you?

Professor Kip Robisch has by far had the most impact on me. He has given me confidence in my writing skills whether it is in fiction or screenwriting, he has been a mentor to me every step of the way and is going to continue to mentor me post-graduation. He is a dedicated teacher who works one-on-one with each student to help shape them into their best self.

Q. Would you recommend UIndy’s English program to prospective students?

Yes. Although the English department is small, it is well rounded. With incredible staff and students, any incoming freshman would benefit greatly.

Q. Final thoughts as you look back on your time at UIndy? 

Changing my major to professional writing was the smartest and wisest choice I could have ever made.

Senior spotlight: Chloe Wahl, biology / chemistry

chloewahl700Leading up to December commencement, we’ll be featuring stories & reflections from the senior class. Chloe Wahl ’19 is a biology and chemistry double major with a concentration in pre-medicine. She will attend Indiana University School of Medicine in fall 2019.

Q. What student groups or activities have you been involved in during your time at UIndy?

A. I have tried to stay active at UIndy in a variety of groups. One of my main interests has been the University of Indianapolis Dance Marathon, a group that raises money for Riley Hospital for Children throughout the year. I have been on the leadership board since my freshman year and have enjoyed helping grow the program and shape it into what it is today. My experience with UIndy DM has been inspiring to me because I get to be a part of something that is bigger than myself and I realized how much we can really make a difference in this world. I will cherish the friendships I have made with Riley families and peers forever.

I am also a Greyhound Ambassador and give tours on campus. I have been giving tours since my freshman year. This experience has helped me grow socially and taught me how to communicate with a variety of people. I started the Presidential Ambassadors program last year and have enjoyed my experiences so far: from working graduation last May to helping with different events on camps and learning leadership skills.

I started independent microbiology research this summer with Dr. [Doug] Stemke. I am testing antibiotic resistance in rural Southern Indiana agriculture and how this could affect humans. I have been able to do a lot of the experimentation on my own and this has taught me so much. I enjoy getting to be hands-on and explore a topic that is interesting to me.

Delight Ministries has also been a group that has been important to me throughout the years. It is a women’s ministry group that focuses on creating a community where you can grow in faith and make friendships with other women who have the same values as you. Delight has pushed me to take a more active role in my relationship with God and the women involved in it are so kind and welcoming.

Q. What internships have you completed as a student?

A. I have had several internships the past four years, including one at Forefront Dermatology and one at Seymour Eye Clinic. I started working at Forefront the summer after my freshman year and I had a similar role to the medical assistants, pulling patients back to room and asking them how their skin condition was or what their concerns were, filling out the charts, and preparing the patients for treatments they may have done. I also got the opportunity to assist in surgery several times. This internship opened my eyes to the passion I have for medicine and patient care. Learning how to interact with patients was so valuable and seeing how a clinic is run and all the connecting pieces interested me. My medical vocabulary also improved.

While working at Seymour Eye Clinic I was able to do the preliminary tests with patients such as doing the original vision screening, checking the pressure of the eyes, taking pictures of the back of the eyes, and completing the autorefraction reading. I once again was able to have one on one interactions with patients and learned how to use many different pieces of equipment. Learning how to navigate different computer systems was also valuable.

Q. What are your plans after graduation? What’s your dream job?

A. My plans are to attend Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis in the fall of 2019. I am so excited to start this new adventure and feel blessed that UIndy prepared me so well for this next step. My dream job one day would be to become a dermatologist. With my experience at my internship the past three years and my interactions with the patients and medical providers, I feel that this path is right for me. The medicine behind skin conditions is very interesting to me and I love the close relationships that it creates with providers and patients.

Q. Is there anyone at UIndy who had an impact on you?

A. Dr. [Joe] Burnell has been an amazing professor and role model throughout my time at UIndy. I have never felt so much support and encouragement from a professor before and it helped me get through his tough classes. I was fortunate enough to have Dr. Burnell for six semesters while at UIndy, for general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. I look back at his classes and remember how passionate he was about teaching and helping his students become successful. There were many times I would go to his office with concerns about my future and if I was choosing the right career. He always knew how to reassure me and encourage me to do what makes me happy in the end. Dr. Burnell is such a special professor and person, and embodies what make UIndy so great.

Stephanie Kendall-Deitz in the Professional Edge Center has been a great support and resource my four years here. She helped set up several shadowing opportunities and networking events that helped me grow in a professional setting. I went to her many times to help me fix my resume and navigate my future career. The Professional Edge Center, with Stephanie taking the lead, also set up an MCAT prep class at a reduced price that was extremely helpful. Her interview preparation was enlightening and helped me feel more prepared for my medical school interview. I often get emails of encouragement from Stephanie or nice messages that remind me why I came to this school and why it feels like home.

Dr. Stemke has been helped me the past year to be successful in classes and in areas related to graduate school. I had him for microbiology last year and immunology this semester. I am also working with Dr. Stemke to complete my independent research, which is my capstone class for my biology major. I was also able to do a mock interview with Dr. Stemke before my medical school interview and he helped me improve my answers and approach to questions. Dr. Stemke is a very kind and considerate professor who does all that he can to help his students get to where they want to be.

I have been fortunate enough to make a group of friends on campus who have helped me through all aspects of college and life. We actually all met our first week of school freshman year and have remained close since. The value of having a constant support system and group that truly cares for you is indescribable. These are friends that I can thank UIndy for and friends that will last long after we leave.

Q. Would you recommend UIndy’s biology program to prospective students?

A. I would recommend the biology program to other students because I have had such a positive experience with it. The faculty is so dedicated to their students and work hard to constantly improve the learning experience. They emphasize the many opportunities there are to do research and help students to find what their interests are. The biology and chemistry departments on campus are full of smart, talented professors who always put their students before themselves and strive to pass on their passion for learning to them.

8. Final thoughts as you look back on your time at UIndy?

A. It is honestly crazy how fast time has gone here at UIndy. I look back and think of the many fun times I have had, the friends I have made, and the all that I have learned, I feel blessed. University of Indianapolis truly feels like home and it is strange that my time here is almost done. I will remember UIndy fondly and look forward to coming back to reminisce on all the good times I had.

Senior spotlight: Claire Gilbert, marketing

ClaireLeading up to December commencement, we’ll be featuring stories & reflections from the University of Indianapolis senior class. 

Claire Gilbert ’18 is a marketing major who has also been involved in a variety of extracurriculars:

  • Student Recruitment Manager, UIndy School of Business
  • Member, Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)
  • Involved with Student Business Leadership Academy as both a Vice President and Board Member (in different years)
  • UIndy Connectors (UIndy social media ambassador program)
  • Top Dog Communication
  • Volunteered for programming hosted by the Ecumenical & Interfaith Office

“Not only did these organizations mold me into a young professional but they also helped me develop personally, allowing me to grow in my faith and meet my best friends. I’m so thankful for the well-rounded experiences and unique opportunities UIndy provided me!”

My plans after graduation: I will finish my internship with Delta Faucet Company global headquarters in Carmel, IN and intend to work in corporate marketing in Indianapolis.

My advice to incoming freshmen: The key to success in college is people. Surround yourself with good people that will encourage you, help you grow and look out for you from the very beginning. That will be easy, because UIndy is full of them!

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