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IU Northwest News

IU Northwest welcomes new semester, fresh faces

Learners from across the region arrive to pursue a life-changing IU education

Monday Aug 27, 2012

Indiana University Northwest opens the books on the 2012-13 academic year on August 27, welcoming both new and returning students to its Gary campus. Those walking across campus during Welcome Back Week are bound to sense the excitement that comes with new beginnings.

At a recent pre-semester orientation, new students eager to begin a new chapter in their education, were happy to speak about themselves, their ambitions, and their future plans, all of which begin this fall at IU Northwest. 

From the former tradesman looking to make a career out of his passion for fitness, to the former casino dealer looking for a new profession, and the enlightened young woman striving to better her native community, the stories of those new to IU Northwest are as varied as their individual goals.

Matt Green, 34, of Crown Point, initially studied masonry and construction and worked as a brick layer. But the hours were long and the work was exhausting. Plus, activity slowed down with the recession, and “killed the trades,” as he put it.

“They weren’t building any neighborhoods or schools, so it got real slow out there,” he said.

The athletic father of two holds advanced certifications in fitness and is an avid mountain biker and personal trainer. Passionate about helping others get fit and stay healthy, Green has decided to pursue a degree in physical therapy and turn his passion into a profession.

Green cited proximity and convenience as reasons why he chose IU Northwest. He intends to continue working with clients at local gyms while pursuing his degree.

Danielle Jones, 37, of Gary, spent 13 years as a casino dealer before becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA). This fall, she is taking steps to further her healthcare career with an associate’s degree in Health Information Management (RHIT). She intends to continue working as a CNA throughout her education by attending daytime classes and working the night shift.

“When I finish, I want to work at a hospital,” Jones said, “and then probably go back and get my bachelor’s degree in Health Information Administration.”

Asked why she chose IU Northwest, Jones cited the campus’s proximity to her home and the value and worldwide reputation of an IU degree.

“IU speaks for itself,” she said.

Justin McClure, 24, of Hammond, is transferring to IU Northwest from another university to pursue dental hygiene. At the IU Northwest campus, he hopes to enjoy something that he said was noticeably absent from his previous higher education experience – a campus social life.

McClure’s mom, Kathy, said she is impressed by the number of student organizations and the amount of cultural diversity on campus.

“I like that they have activities,” she said, “which in my opinion, brings students together on a social level. I thought he might like this better because . . . he will be here all day, every day.”

McClure agreed, saying that he no longer wants just to take classes and leave, as he did at his previous university. He hopes to become involved in student activities.

Keenisha Ferguson, 21, of Gary, initially left home to attend a residential college for her criminal justice degree, with no intention of moving back to Northwest Indiana.

After a year and a half, Ferguson had a change of heart and decided to move back home and become actively involved in solving the challenges in her native community. So she enrolled at IU Northwest full-time along with her fiancé. She looks forward to the opportunity for them to learn and grow together.

This fall, Ferguson is beginning to work towards her bachelor’s degree in social work, with a minor in criminal justice. Her goal is to work with local children and to be a positive role model in their lives.

Jillian Way, 28, of Valparaiso, admitted that her education has been somewhat touch and go over the past six years, but, after earning an associate’s degree in May 2012, she is ready to keep up that momentum.

Way comes to IU Northwest this fall to pursue her ultimate goal: a degree in nursing. She chose IU Northwest on the recommendation of her sister-in-law, also a student here, but also on the merits of the program. While researching nursing programs throughout the Midwest and East Coast, Way said, she repeatedly came across IU Northwest as a top school for nursing.

The married mom of three boys hopes one day to work in a neonatal intensive care unit as a nurse practitioner.

Support for freshman

Both new and returning students at IU Northwest have a multitude of resources available to help them succeed.

Taking advantage of this available support is one of the best ways that students can excel academically. To help new students navigate the college experience, IU Northwest provides:

-              Freshman seminar course (in select programs)

-              New Student Orientation

-              New Student Success Program

-              Tutoring

-              Reading, math and writing labs

-              Peer mentoring

-              Supplemental Instruction

-              Counseling Center

For more information about assistance that is available through Student Support Services, call (219) 980-6798 or visit

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