How did you first get involved with Jagathon?
I was hired by the IUF to serve as advisor in August of 2012. I learned early on that our next event would be in October! We were coming off of a $13,500 year and had maybe a dozen students on the committee. My role was to work with the students to set the committee, plan the event, and help provide fundraising strategies. We raised $28,000 that October, and the event was held in the Campus Center 450s… just the 450s, not the entire building like we have now. All of this led me to believe that the dance marathon program at IUPUI had a great deal of untapped potential.
What is the most rewarding part of advising Jagathon?
Seeing the growth in students. I think that dance marathon is the most powerful form of extracurricular involvement because students are working to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and in so doing, without even realizing that it’s happening, they are developing their abilities through the pursuit of strengthening the program. The types of skills they learn are highly transferable beyond college.
I was a first generation, nontraditional college student. I was a mid-career professional taking evening classes with a family at home. I was very fortunate that I had a handful of people that, for whatever reason, had a hand in pulling me into extracurricular activities. Through that process, I learned a lot more about myself and about leadership. With Jagathon, I see that growth in these students and, looking back, I see that those extracurricular activities I was pulled into in my undergrad did the same thing for me. This is why I love IUPUI and working with students. Being in the trenches with people who are experiencing the same thing that you are... I knew how much that meant to me, and that Jagathon does much of the same thing in terms of putting together a massive program. I saw that parallel with Jagathon, but in a much bigger way, with the added philanthropic element.
Can you tell us a little bit about how your work with Jagathon has influenced your doctoral program?
I was really influenced by Zac Johnson, who oversaw Miracle Network Dance Marathon at the time with CMNH. He was an early partner and mentor who I grew quite a bit from. I have a lot of respect for him. I remember him always saying that he “majored in dance marathon” because so much of his undergrad was spent trying to move IU Dance Marathon forward. That always stuck with me. Going into the doctoral program, I wanted to merge the work I was doing as a practitioner with the work I was doing as an aspiring scholar. By doing so, it impacted both: it would strengthen my understanding of the work in a way that would help me become a better practitioner, and because it is something that I care so dearly for, it made me a better academic.