Thursday night was a very special evening for Indiana University Northwest as the university hosted their annual Chancellor’s Medallion Celebration at Merrillville’s Avalon Manor. The occasion brings together students, their scholarship benefactors, friends, and alumni to benefit student scholarships for the school.
The event not only benefits scholarships, but also recognized a handful of students and awarded those who that have contributed greatly to the college.
The night’s emcee Vanessa Allen, Ed.D., the President/CEO of the Urban League of Northwest Indiana and member of the IU Northwest Board of Advisors, was the first of many special speakers to take the podium. Dr. Allen highlighted the need for scholarship assistance, which was one of the reasons for the celebration.
“Affordability can sometimes be one of the stumbling blocks our local students face in earning their IU degree,” Allen stated. “Because of the support of the people in this room this year, more than 300 students’ financial burdens have been eased, totaling more than $350,000 in scholarship assistance. Those students will now have a greater access to opportunity.”
Speakers also included John Applegate, J.D., the Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs for Indiana University, Jeri Pat Gabbert, the Vice Chancellor for University Advancement and External Affairs at IU Northwest, and Daniel Smith, Ph.D., the President and CEO for the Indiana University Foundation. All of the speakers were heavily involved with the university and all had a resounding theme to their speeches - the essential need for education and the scholarships needed to finish a student’s education.
The event wouldn’t be complete without the Chancellor himself, William Lowe, Ph.D.. Dr. Lowe pointed out the unique student body that the university attracts and their need, as much as any other college student in the nation, for support to keep them afloat.
“As the region’s university, it is very clear that IU Northwest educates the students who might not otherwise be provided with an opportunity to earn the degrees that put them on a path to a more rewarding and financially secure adult life,” Lowe said. “With support and continuing engagement within our campus helps us to meet students’ educational needs and their financial obligations, which, too often, can be a major hindrance to a student’s persistence and success.”
The chancellor soon after recognized specific people who personally contributed to the well being of IUN’s students with a medal and plaque. Dave and Louise Allard, E. Thomas “Tom” and Sylvia Collins, Albert “Al” Reichle and Lynne Gassoway Reichle and members of the Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana, Inc. (CFNI) all took the stage in order to be applauded for their work.
The whole celebration would be without reason if it wasn’t for IUN’s scholarship recipients. Siddharth Bangar, a fourth year medical student; Crystal Collins, a senior majoring in Nursing; Dylan Sheets, a junior majoring in Health Services Management; and Datianna Tillman, a junior majoring in Business Administration, were all recipients of various scholarships. The night put them under the spotlight but also brought them together with the people who are allowing them to continue their education.
Siddharth Bangar, who still has many years to go in his educational career, said that he was honored to receive the scholarships but to also be a part of the celebration. “There were a lot of people that they could of picked for this honor, so it’s really nice that they thought of me.” Bangar explained. “I’m very appreciative of everything they’ve done for me. With the help of both the scholarships I’ve gained its really helped me get board scores and also helped me get better grades.”
Once the night’s festivities concluded the medallion winners and the students met for the first time. Some of the winners personally helped with the scholarships that the students have received, so the students finally got to thank the people responsible for such a big donation that will enrich their education. Handshakes and hugs were traded, warm smiles were on their faces, and as camera flashes lightened up their faces it was clear to see that the celebration was not only about money being given - but about an essential moment in IUN student’s lives.