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Meet some of IU Northwest’s newest students

Anxious to begin anew, students have plenty of resources to ensure their success

Monday Aug 27, 2012


Indiana University Northwest opened the books on the 2013-14 academic year today, August 26, 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 high school grad anticipating a new world of independence, to those looking to enhance their promising careers, the stories of those new to IU Northwest are as varied as their individual goals.

Victoria Morales, 18, of Crown Point, attended one of the new student orientations in hopes of learning more about student activities. Active in student government at Lake Central High School, Morales hopes to continue making a difference on behalf of fellow students at IU Northwest.

Morales brought with her another future student, her sister, 16-year-old Alexis, who appeared equally as excited to attend college at IU Northwest.

Morales said she chose IU Northwest because of its reputation for her chosen discipline of psychology. Once she gets her undergraduate degree, she plans to continue her education, most likely at IU, and pursue her ultimate goal of becoming a psychiatrist.

Kerry Shotwell, 41, of Merrillville, is returning to college after 20 years.

Though he initially began an electrical engineering technician program at Purdue University, he never finished. Instead, he found a number of other jobs, including the military, before settling at his current position at U.S. Steel, where he has worked for the past nine years.

Hoping to advance within his field, Shotwell is excited to be pursuing his first-ever college degree.

“I am excited to come back and major in Labor Studies because I want to eventually take on a position in my union and try to bridge the gap between the company and the union,” he said. “I can take a position in the union without going to school, but to be more effective, I would like to have that education.”

Though he has a busy family life, with a wife and three children, Shotwell said now is a great time for him to focus on himself and his education.

“I am in a position at work where I am fairly settled and not doing a lot of moving around,” he said. “I have a son that just graduated from Merrillville High School. I have two daughters, 7 and 8 years old. Now that they are more able to kind of ‘fend for themselves,’  . . .  this is about the time I can go back.”

Richard Perez, 21, of Hobart, is excited to be transferring to IU Northwest from Ivy Tech Community College in Gary.

The River Forest High School graduate plans to pursue elementary education and one day teach at the middle or high school level. Currently, he is serving as a substitute teacher at River Forest.

Perez visited IU Northwest recently with his mom, Mary, who is looking to Perez to serve as a good example for his two younger siblings, who will likely also attend IU Northwest.

Perez said he chose IU Northwest largely for its affordability but is impressed with the active campus life, which he plans to get involved with once he gets acclimated to his classes.

“It’s more of an outgoing environment here. Here, I feel like I can be more sociable with people,” Perez said. “But academics come first before I can have fun.”

Natalie Boring, 27, of Hammond, recently earned her associate’s degree in criminal justice from Ivy Tech Community College in Gary.

This fall, the Hammond High School graduate is continuing her education at IU Northwest where she anticipates earning her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in December of 2014.

Boring is persevering toward her degree despite some early challenges. The 2004 Hammond High School graduate first attended the University of Evansville. After she experienced some health problems, she had to pause her studies for a while before heading to Ivy Tech and then, IU Northwest.

“I’ve always wanted to help people,” Boring said. “I was in the nursing program at Ivy Tech but I found out that wasn’t what I wanted to do.”

Currently, she is working as an intern at a juvenile probation center.

“I love it,” she said. “I do whatever the probation officers do. I do a lot of observing in the courtroom.”

Boring hopes to get involved with the Student Government Association and the Criminal Justice Club.

Elizabeth Kammer, 19, Highland, is a transfer student from California. While she was born and raised there, her family is originally from Northwest Indiana. With her boyfriend at her side, and with a cousin who also attends IU Northwest, Kammer has a wealth of support to draw on in her new environment.With about two years of general education requirements under her belt from California State University, the biology/pre-med student is ready to dive into the latter part of her education.

“I like the campus. I came from a commuter campus out there so it’s not too different,” she said.

Ayanna Riley, 21, of Hammond is transferring to IU Northwest from Ivy Tech Community College in Gary.

After going from Ivy Tech to Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and back to Ivy Tech, the Gavit High School graduate has finally settled at IU Northwest, where she plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in Health Services Management by next summer.

With 56 credits under her belt, Riley is ready to get down to the business of studying. She intends to take advantage of university resources like the writing and math lab in order to help her succeed. It’s one of the reasons she wanted to learn in a more traditional campus environment.

Riley would like to work in a hospital environment initially and eventually join the Air Force.

Riley said she’d like to serve her country, see the world, travel and be independent, but with a college degree already in hand.

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