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2016 Graduation Spotlights

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On May 11, 2016, approximately 300 College of Arts and Sciences students will graduate, each with a unique story about their graduation journey. Some of our graduates come from other countries; some are Fort Wayne natives. Some began college right out of high school; some are returning adult learners. The students in these spotlights are passionate about their departments, proud of their accomplishments, and enthusiastic about their time at IPFW. They credit family, friends, and faculty for supporting them and helping them reach their goals. We celebrate the success of all our graduates and encourage you to read these spotlights as a way to inspire your own accomplishments and persevere through life’s obstacles.

 

Sarah Bercot
Bachelor of Arts in French
Bachelor of Arts in English

BercotSarah Bercot has been an active member of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Departments of International Language and Culture Studies (ILCS) and English and Linguistics. She has received awards from IPFW's French, English, and Arabic programs, including Excellence in Foreign Language Awards (Arabic and French), an Excellence in Service of a Foreign Language Award (French), the Outstanding Senior Award from the American Association of Teachers of French, the Avon Crismore Award (English), and the Beverly Hume Memorial Award (English). She traveled to Paris twice with IPFW’s French Club on student-led language and learning immersions, hosted regular French film nights on campus, won third place for her poster presentation at the 2015 IPFW Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium, and presented a paper at the 2014 Indiana University Women and Gender Studies Conference, a text that is currently undergoing peer-review for publication in an undergraduate publication.

Bercot is grateful to faculty in the ILCS and English and linguistics departments for the help they provided. “Within the ILCS department, [Professor] Nancy Virtue and [Professor] Laurie Corbin have been an incredible source of support and guidance. Also within ILCS, [Continuing Lecturer] Farah Combs enabled my success in Arabic language and culture studies, and I plan to pursue the language further in graduate school. Within the English department, I can confidently say that each professor encouraged my advancement in writing and critical thought at each level. Working directly with [Associate Professor] Sara Webb-Sunderhaus and [Associate Professor] Troy Bassett as part of my IPFW Honors Program research gave me the guidance and opportunity to pursue topics within my areas of interest and beyond.”

Recently, Bercot was accepted as a teaching assistant for the Académie de Nancy-Metz in France, where she will spend the 2016–17 academic year. She then plans to enroll in a French and Arabic graduate program to prepare for a career as a translator.

 

Kelsie Gillig
Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology
Minor in Religious Studies
Minor in Linguistics

Gillig

Kelsie Gillig originally planned on becoming a cardiac surgeon, but after an unhappy year, she was ready to explore other options. Gillig had always enjoyed learning languages, so a friend suggested she should consider a career as a translator or linguist instead. After doing some research into the field of linguistics, Gillig switched her major to anthropology, and will pursue an academic career in linguistic anthropology.

Gillig has been active on campus (especially as the president of the IPFW Anthropology Club) and received many awards, but she is most proud of her research accomplishments. In summer 2015, Gillig attended the Linguistic Society of America institute and conference where she met a Ph.D. candidate from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Together they have collaborated on research looking at the effects of language contact in pitch-accents of Gernika Basque, and that work was just presented in April 2016 at the Chicago Linguistics Society's 52nd Annual Meeting and the 8th Meeting of the Illinois Language and Linguistics Society. Gillig also wrote a grammar for the Coeur d’Alene language, which is published on Wikipedia to give the public and community members a free source of vital linguistic information.

When asked about her future plans, Gillig responded, “Immediately, my plan is to take a vacation! I can’t even remember the last vacation I took that was not related to my field or graduate school.” After that, she’ll begin moving and preparing for graduate school in a Ph.D. program at University of Texas at Austin. Gillig concluded, “I love research and find it very fulfilling. I wouldn't know what to do with myself without it. Ultimately, I want to make a lasting contribution to linguistic anthropology.”

 

Elisa (Elli) Hernandez
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Minor in Linguistics

Elli Hernandez Picture

Elli Hernandez had an arduous journey before changing her life and coming to IPFW. She grew up in a rough area just outside of Chicago and was homeschooled by her parents. But she was a troubled teenager who struggled with substance abuse and mental illness. She left home at 18 and moved to Warsaw, Indiana, but her problems followed her. Hernandez commented, “after a bout of homelessness, losing most of what I had, feeling powerless to change myself, and wreaking havoc in my relationships with people who were important to me, I realized was lucky to be still alive, and I decided I needed help to change the direction my life was taking me.” After getting professional help and turning her life around, Hernandez decided to pursue a degree in psychology to become a mental health counselor and help others like herself.

At IPFW, Hernandez has had many significant accomplishments. Since fall 2014, she has been president of OUTspoken, IPFW’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ+) student group. She has worked as a research assistant for three psychology faculty: Associate Professor Michelle Drouin, Professor Jay Jackson, and Associate Professor Jeannie DiClementi. She has even found the time to coauthor two articles that are currently being peer reviewed at academic journals. Hernandez has also given eight poster presentations, including one that won first prize for the Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium in March 2016.

Faculty members in the Department of Psychology encouraged Hernandez to engage in research as an undergraduate, which ultimately changed her career trajectory: “Involvement with these clinical-application-based and research-based opportunities in the psychology department (and Department of English and Linguistics) lead me to an important (and surprising!) personal revelation: I like the counseling aspect of psychology, but I LOVE research! If it weren't for the experiences I gained through IPFW, I would not have figured out my true desire to do social psychology research, and because of all of my undergraduate experience, I will have a better shot at getting into a top-notch Ph.D. program.”

Hernandez plans to begin applying for Ph.D. programs in social psychology in fall 2016.

 

Luisa Pires Luciano
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
Minor in Women’s Studies

Luciano

Originally from Brazil, Luisa Pires Luciano moved to Indiana as an exchange student for her senior year of high school. While in Fort Wayne, she “fell in love with IPFW and decided to stay in the United States for college. IPFW was the perfect place to explore my interests.”

She has made the most out of her time at IPFW. Luciano will receive B.A. in political science with a women’s studies minor and certificates in peace and conflict studies and international studies. She also received an honors medal; is a Class of 2016 Representative; and won the Chancellor’s Merit Award, Barbara L. Blauvelt Service Award, and an Honors Study Abroad Scholarship. Finally, Luciano was on IPFW’s Model United Nations team for three years, serving two years as the group’s president.

After graduation, Luciano will be moving to Washington, DC, to study conflict resolution as a graduate student at Georgetown University. Luciano credits IPFW’s Department of Political Science for her success: “The political science department has been instrumental in helping me achieve my goals. My professors have provided me not only with an excellent academic experience, but have also encouraged me to grow personally and strive for the best. The department allowed me to get involved in several political and civil engagement opportunities in addition to assisting me with my grad school and internship application processes.”

 

Cody Neuenschwander
Bachelor of Arts in Media and Public Communication
Minor in Journalism

Neuenschwander

Cody Neuenschwander was always interested in journalism, and when he decided to come to college, he chose IPFW because it was conveniently located and financially affordable, and he felt that IPFW’s Department of Communication could give him the tools necessary to achieve his goals.

While here, Neuenschwander was treasurer of Lambda Pi Eta, the local chapter of a national communication student group; president of the communication and media society at IPFW; was on the advisory board for the Communicator, IPFW's student newspaper; and worked in IPFW's Writing Center. He also received the Department of Communication’s Academic Achievement Award in 2016.

According to Neuenschwander, “IPFW, specifically the communication department, has taught me so much about my desired career field. It’s given me the skills and the know-how to tackle a job once I graduate. Beyond that, it has expanded my knowledge of what communication is, and the multiple facets it entails. I have a much wider field of interest than I did before college, which I think is a great thing, because that’s what makes someone dynamic.”

After graduation, Neuenschwander will fulfill his dream of becoming a journalist, having recently accepted a job as a full-time reporter at the Kokomo Tribune.