Indiana University students are not one-size-fits-all, which is reflected in the incoming freshman class at IU Bloomington this fall. Three out of the 9,550 first-year students beginning their academic journeys at IU this semester shared with us their dreams and aspirations that led them to the Bloomington campus.
A Hoosier born and raised
Freshman Mateo Fuentes-Rohwer was more than familiar with IU when he began his college search.
“IU has been a central part of my life,” he said. “I was born and raised in Bloomington. Sporting events, particularly IU soccer, performances at the IU Auditorium and discovering the campus were all experiences that shaped my life.”
Fuentes-Rohwer said IU is more than a university to his family; it is a tradition. His father, Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, has been a professor at the IU Maurer School of Law since 2002. His three older siblings are all IU graduates, and Fuentes-Rohwer said he is looking forward to being the fourth. He begins his studies this fall with a double major in journalism and history and a minor in Spanish, programs offered through The Media School and the College of Arts and Sciences.
“After graduation, I hope to work my way up through the sportswriter world,” Fuentes-Rohwer said. “The ultimate goal — my dream — is a beat writing position at a major sports team.”
The Bloomington campus will once again be home to more first-year students from Indiana than any other university campus. Out of the 5,147 incoming freshmen from Indiana, 212 attended high school in Bloomington.
Academics meet athletics
At IU, the intersection between world-class academics and world-class athletics is a draw for students like Fuentes-Rohwer who dream of working in sports, an industry expected to be worth $623 billion by 2027. For incoming freshman Collins Oduro, the decision to attend IU was easy once he learned of its storied soccer program.
Oduro grew up in Ghana, where he attended the Right to Dream Academy, a school for soccer athletes. He moved to the U.S. to complete his senior year of high school at Pennsylvania’s Phelps School, where Gatorade awarded him the 2022-23 Pennsylvania Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
When he began looking at colleges, Oduro said he spoke to IU men’s soccer coach Todd Yeagley and felt connected to the prestigious program. Since its inception in 1973, the IU men’s soccer program has won more NCAA titles and tournament games than any other school in the nation, including 13 Big Ten Tournament wins.
“I wanted a college with a good soccer program,” Oduro said. “After watching the clips on the history of IU soccer and seeing the achievements in college soccer, I knew this was a top-notch program that would challenge me to get better.”
One of 446 international students and 158 freshmen student-athletes this semester, Oduro said he is interested in studying sports marketing, a program offered through the School of Public Health-Bloomington. He has settled in during the past two months with the help of his teammates and coaches, and he said he is ready for the fall semester.
“I’m very happy to be in Bloomington, and I can’t wait to start my university journey,” Oduro said.
Educating future educators
Finding a school with both an excellent elementary education program and a diverse community was a necessity for freshman Lillian LaTour.
“I fell in love with the Bloomington campus and the diverse and international community that was rooted here,” LaTour said. “Coming from Hong Kong, that was something I needed and appreciated.”
As the fall semester begins, first-year students from 43 states and 44 countries may find engagement at the university’s culture centers. IU is home to the First Nations Education and Cultural Center, Asian Culture Center, LGBTQ+ Culture Center, Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, Jewish Culture Center, La Casa Latino Cultural Center and more. These centers serve as meeting spaces for students to congregate, share meals, plan outreach and advocacy events, and learn from one another.
Babysitting, tutoring and volunteering in the children’s ministry at her church in Hong Kong inspired LaTour to become a teacher.
“I also really enjoyed my elementary years and remember so much of what my own teachers did for me, so I wanted to be able to do the same for future students,” LaTour said.
In her college research, she said she was pleased to discover that the IU School of Education offered a Direct Admit Scholars program, which provides students with peer mentorship from more experienced students and academic advisors, additional scholarship opportunities, and stipends toward student teaching programs both domestic and abroad. A record 5,721 direct-admit students across various schools begin their academic journeys at IU this semester.
With a goal to teach internationally, LaTour was especially interested in the school’s award-winning Global Gateways for Teachers program, which provides pathways for students to teach abroad for a semester. She said she is undecided on which Global Gateways location to choose, but Australia, Italy and Spain are of particular interest. LaTour will be among approximately 4,000 IU students who study abroad each year, gaining a global perspective and building skills that transfer beyond travel and into their careers.