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Women of the Well House support new campus programs

Advancement Dec 3, 2021
The well house in snow
The well house in snow

KOKOMO, Ind. — A project to add native plant species to campus, a digital storytelling and spoken word workshop, opportunities for students to mentor other students, and initiatives to diversify students studying computer sciences, received $28,077 in grants from Indiana University Kokomo’s Women of the Well House.

The giving circle provided funding for 10 programs led by faculty, staff, and students.

Cathy Clearwaters, director of development, said since its inception in 2017, the circle has given approximately $110,000 to programs benefiting not only IU Kokomo, but the surrounding community.

“By pooling our resources, the Women of the Well House experience how these initiatives are positively impacting our community, and that is so rewarding,” she said.

M. Abdullah Canbaz, assistant professor of computer science, said his grant will help attract students who are underrepresented in computer science to consider the field.

“Not only do female, Black, and Hispanic students lack some of the access and exposure to computer science that their counterparts have, there are long-standing social barriers that foster narrow views of who does computer science that can halt interest and advancement,” he said. “As our field continues to grow and mature, it is vital to identify and nurture diversity in our ranks and publication. We want to provide a financial incentive, positive encouragement, and peer mentoring for selected students in our program.”

Christina Romero-Ivanova, assistant professor of education, was honored to receive grants to support a week of workshops in spoken word and digital literacy for the Indiana State Literacy Association, of which she is an executive board member.

“The festival provides an opportunity for community voices that may have been marginalized to speak their stories,” she said. “The grants allow it to continue, and for us to support secondary teachers and students in Indiana, while collaborating with my colleagues and students on our campus, as well as others around the state.”

Part of the grant also provides more than 2,000 books for foster youth statewide.

“This is important, as it helps families with home literacy,” said Romero-Ivanova, who applied for the grant with Brooke Komar, visiting lecturer of psychology.

Additional programs receiving funding included:

• Dedicate and Educate: IU Kokomo native plant project: Andy Tuholski, director of the Office of Sustainability and visiting lecturer in political science, applied for funding to expand annual campus planting efforts, with focus on introducing more native species, and creating university-approved identification signs for native trees and plants on campus in prominent locations.

• Podcast Festival ’22: Paul Cook, Podcast Festival chair, and board of directors members Erin Doss, Tess Barker, Meg Galasso, Jamie Oslawski-Lopez, Quiana Preston, Julie Deem, and Jim Coby plan to continue the podcasting festival that began in 2021 with a virtual edition. The 2022 event will be a month-long podcasting festival, both in-person and online, where students from diverse backgrounds and experiences can share creative digital stories, engage with the community, and celebrate the power and connective power of human storytelling.

• Pedagogical Partnerships: Julie Saam, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs, applied for funding for a Students and Learners and Teachers program in which Multicultural Center Equity Ambassadors will serve as paid pedagogical consultants to faculty.

• From STEM majors to educators – a STEM teacher recruiting initiative: The project, led by Leah Nellis, dean of the School of Education, Christian Chauret, dean of the School of Sciences, Lu Wang, assistant professor of science education and Patrick Motl, associate dean of the School of Sciences and professor of physics; attempts to address the need of preparing high-quality STEM teachers, and serves as the first step to recruit STEM majors and professionals to consider teaching.

• NMAT student leaders/tutors: This program will hire high-performing new media, art, and technology juniors and seniors to assist, train, or mentor foundation level students, or students preparing for their thesis work. It will empower upper-level students through mentoring and teaching their peers, while also helping students in need of extra support, skills, or knowledge. Erik Deerly, chair of NMAT and professor of NMAT, received the grant.

• Educator wellness and resilience: Dean Leah Nellis and Cheryl Moore-Beyioku, lecturer in special education, applied for funding to expand its program, which is designed to support the well-being and resilience of preservice educators and recent School of Education alumni, through mentoring, self-care practices, and connection, to support retention of teachers.

• Support for launch of KEY Center for Innovation: Funding will help with infrastructure for the new Center, which provides experiential learning for students through community-based projects, while expanding the campus’s presence in the community. Director Alan Krabbenhoft said needs include workspace and equipment for presentations, as well as professional association dues.

• Prince Edward Island trip for the Anne of Green Gables Literacy Circle: Grants would help pay for travel costs for undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, staff, and faculty as a culminating trip to provide experiences related to the Anne of Green Gables book series. Christina Romero-Ivanova, assistant professor of education, facilitates the group.

Membership in Women of the Well House is open to women who make a $1,000 per year commitment. Each member has a voice in selecting projects to fund. For more information contact Clearwaters at or 765-455-9410.

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