KOKOMO, Ind. — Lia Roudebush chose a path different from that of her high school classmates — but one she recognized as a gift.
Roudebush was first attracted to Indiana University Kokomo because of its cross country and track teams, but receiving the Adam W. Herbert Presidential Scholarship was a gift she couldn’t pass up.
“I really took to heart the opportunity I was given with a full-ride scholarship,” she said. “I came here intent on making this all it could be and more. It’s been such a blessing.”
Roudebush, from Noblesville, made it a point to get involved with Student Life, and to reconnect as clubs began to meet in person again her junior year, after the COVID-19 pandemic.
She wanted to return to the Women in Business student organization, but found nearly every previous member had graduated. Advisor Gloria Preece, assistant professor of personal financial planning and marketing, met with her to help create a new version of the group.
“If I can say I did anything to be proud of during my time here, it’s this one thing, restarting the group,” the Noblesville resident said. “It was just the two of us in the Student Life office with the dean of students, building a budget and realizing this club could be whatever we wanted it to be. We had a group of six officers at the beginning, and we’ve been able to make this whatever we want, and whatever our members want, which has been a great opportunity.”
They hit the ground running with a mix of professional development and social activities, “to have a nice balance of work and play,” she said. The club has thrived in the two years since its renewal, starting the Cougar Closet to provide free professional clothing to students, continuing the annual L.E.A.D. conference, planning trips to meet business leaders, and more.
What she’s gained has made it worth the effort, Roudebush said.
“Women in Business made my student experience what it is,” she said. “I made a lot of professional connections and met another student who is now my best friend. I built connections with faculty, and in planning the L.E.A.D. conference, I built some leadership skills and really put myself out there. I also landed my summer internships through that networking opportunity.”
She’s had internships at Boardable, which provides board management software, and at Dauby O’Conner & Zaleski LLC, an accounting firm in Carmel.
She also took full advantage of Kokomo Experience and You (KEY) opportunities, taking part in class trips to a Pacers game, Nashville, and the Walt Disney World resort, where she saw concepts discussed in her business classes come to life in a real world environment.
“The Nashville trip was super wonderful. It showed me the kinds of business opportunities that lie beyond small-town Indiana,” she said. “At the Pacers game we saw behind-the-scenes operations, and the Disney trip was just phenomenal.”
After she graduates in May with degrees in finance and accounting, Roudebush plans to pursue a master’s degree and become a certified public accountant.
She encourages all IU Kokomo students to make the most of their experience by getting involved on campus.
“Your experience can be whatever you make it,” she said. “IU Kokomo has so much to offer if you put yourself out there. It can be scary at first when you don’t know anyone, but I can’t express how important it is to get involved.”