Sycamores in charge

Indiana State students make their mark on campus — and in the community — by applying what they’re learning in the classroom or their life’s passions.

It’s often said life is what you make of it, and Indiana State University students are using their four years to better their campus and community.

Last year, Sam Morgan, director of the university’s unmanned systems program, and two students, Ehren Samples and Matthew Johnson, approached the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office, Terre Haute Police Department and Vigo County Emergency Management Agency about providing search-and-rescue assistance using drones.

Greg Betz and students fly a drone at Recreation East.

The search-and-rescue experiences gave students the opportunity to receive extra training in this growing field and gave law enforcement extra assistance at lower cost.

“There are about 10,000 pages of stuff to go through, and we boil it down to 10 hours of PowerPoints in two days. We’ve saved them $10,000, because they were going to outsource to some other company, and we said we would do it for free or a much-reduced rate,” Morgan said. “We’re a 13,000-plus student university, and we want to interact with the community because it’s through projects like this that our students see the application of what I teach in the classroom conducted in a real-life setting.”

Johnson, a senior criminology major with an unmanned systems minor from Westfield, Ind., served as a consultant for the equipment purchase and conducted training for the officers.

“I know a lot more about the law enforcement field having been involved with this project,” Johnson said. “If you only do things on campus or in the classroom, you would really miss out on real-world application of what you’re learning. So it’s great that the unmanned systems program encourages students to get involved in the community.”

Student-led initiatives are great opportunities to learn and grow, said Justina Shupperd, of Windfall, Ind., a senior nursing major and director of Riley Relations for State Dance Marathon.

“It first allows students to be a part of something bigger than themselves. None of the things we do are for us. All our efforts are to help the kids,” she said. “I think it also shows students that they can make a difference and how big of an impact we can make when we all work together. Organizations and groups all across campus work to help with this cause, and I think that’s truly amazing, how one organization can unite campus for the same cause. This organization makes an impact not only in a student’s college experience but also in the lives of the families at Riley Hospital for Children.”

Students participate in Dance Marathon at Indiana State.

Kyle Hollinden’s connection with Dance Marathon started in high school, so the sophomore marketing major from Jasper, Ind., was thrilled to join StateDM — as it’s known on campus — and serve as director of corporate sponsorships.

“Just within in my first year here, we started to reach out to more companies, more organizations, more connections, more entertainers, and even the largest number of Riley kids in attendance ever on this campus,” he said. “It is incredibly inspiring to hear that this organization has grown from nothing to the largest student-led organization on campus, raising more awareness for child and maternal health care.

“The amount of people who have joined our movement shows that with a common passion and a shared experience, big things happen,” Hollinden added. “Dance Marathon at State has made a name for itself, but without the help of students, staff, local companies, alumni and Riley Hospital, this kind of momentum would not exist. I am excited to see the growth of State Dance Marathon in the years to come.”

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