KOKOMO, Ind. – A Kokomo resident has received recognition as one of the Indiana University Alumni Association’s (IUAA) top volunteers.
Sharmaine Ellison was one of three recipients of the IUAA Volunteer Leadership Award, given to honor those who are still writing the chapters of their alumni story through volunteerism and service.
Ellison has served the alumni association in multiple roles for more than 12 years, and was pleased to be recognized.
“I just have a grateful heart for IU, and have been blessed to earn three degrees there,” she said. “It feels like I’m being rewarded for something I enjoy doing. My IU degrees have given me opportunities I would not have had otherwise.”
Benjamin Liechty, director of alumni relations and campus ceremonies, said Ellison sets the example as an active, engaged alumna.
She’s a member of the IUAA executive council, a university-level appointment, and also serves on the IU Alumni Association Kokomo region board of managers. She will begin a two-year term as IUAA Kokomo Region president July 1. She also volunteers at the Career and Accessibility Center etiquette lunch each year.
“Nominating Sharmaine for the Volunteer Leadership Award was a no-brainer,” he said. “Her roles within the alumni association have been incredibly beneficial for all IU alumni, and our campus. Any time we host an event, Sharmaine is very involved, from the planning stages until after the event, and always asks how she can help.”
Ellison completed her Master of Public Management (M.P.M.) in December, having previously earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) in 2000 and Associate of Science in Nursing (A.S.N.) in 1987.
“I felt so grateful to IU Kokomo,” she said. “I was raised in a single parent home. My ultimate goal was to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, but I knew my mother couldn’t afford it. Thankfully there was the associate degree at IU Kokomo, and I could continue to work and get my degree at the same time. Then, I could come back for my B.S.N. later.”
She’s worked as a direct care nurse, and then in quality assurance, reviewing patient charts to be sure all treatment is based on evidence-based medicine, and that medical staff did all they were supposed to do for that patient. Her position was recently eliminated because of Covid-19 pandemic budget cuts, but her newly-earned M.P.M. gives her hope and new options.
“I could go back into health care pretty easily, or I can see how else I can put that new degree to work,” Ellison said. “I can pick from a vast variety of places. Right now, I’m redefining what I want to do.”
The most meaningful part of her service is giving out the alumni association scholarships to current students, and meeting with fellow alumni.
“I’m helping to shape what the alumni association is doing, and what they foresee in the future,” Ellison said, and encouraged others to get involved.
“Look at what your IU degree has done for you, and how, what can you do to give back? What can you do to help someone else obtain what you have?”
The IUAA Volunteer Leadership Award was developed in 2019 and seeks to honor volunteer leaders who have exemplified commitment, collaboration, inclusion, and pride through the work in the IUAA, and have shown leadership in areas of time, talent, or treasure.
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.