Behind The Scene: Jagathon Advisors


Take a walk down memory lane with Jagathon Advisors, Pete Hunter, Ali Emswiller, and Darrell Pirtle, as they reflect on their years advising Jagathon as its students lead the organization through a period of record-breaking growth. 

Pete Hunter

IUPUI Student Foundation Advisor since 2012

How has the last year been advising Jagathon through its 20th Anniversary year during the challenges of 2020 and 2021?

It’s tough. That’s an understatement. I’m not particularly excited about another Zoom meeting any more than anyone else is. I’m also inspired! People can say whatever they want about Jagathon, but they can’t say we gave up. I’ve been a little more reflective this year with it being the 20th Anniversary, knowing I’ve been here for half of it. Inevitably, I think about former students I’ve advised, and I always think of them fondly. It always leads to some sort of outreach where we reconnect, and I’m grateful that they’re in my life. I’ve been able to connect with alumni from before I showed up. People like the Delimas. Sarah Dargatz. Joe Franklin. Melissa Tugsal. It all converges for me: the work I do with my dissertation and the oral histories from 1970s era dance marathons, to meeting people who came before me in Jagathon, to the people I’ve worked with these last 9 years. The value of dance marathon is that it goes beyond time or place. Jagathon is as strong now as it ever has been.


What are your future goals for the program?

I would never want it to lose that fundamental focus: student leadership development through the lens of giving back. I’d want it to continue to attract the very best leaders on campus. Through my research, I know how rare and special it is for any student-led initiative raising funds for charity to reach that annual threshold of more than a million dollars in fundraising. That is a magical group of programs I would love Jagathon to be a part of. 


Ali Emswiller

IUPUI Student Foundation Advisor since 2019

How has the last year been advising Jagathon through its 20th Anniversary year during the challenges of 2020 and 2021?

A pandemic is certainly not the environment we would have expected for Jagathon’s 20th Anniversary. I definitely miss being able to come together in person. The last year has reminded me how resilient Jagathon is. There is more energy now than ever before surrounding push days and committee meetings. This group has focused on the fact that they have the power to provide hope and light even in the midst of the pandemic. I am proud of the determination of the 2021 committee.


Darrell Pirtle

IUPUI Student Foundation Advisor from 2017-2019