Sisters make IUPUI, Campus Center a family affair

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Families can again join their students at Fall Fest, which will take place Oct. 28. Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

As IUPUI approaches its 50th anniversary and becomes more steeped in tradition, it's increasingly common to see Jaguars come from all branches of a family tree. Some students, like the Mills sisters, don't wait for anniversary celebrations, or Family Weekend, to bring school and family together.

Tiffany, the second of five Mills children and the oldest daughter, made her way to campus first. She was soon followed by Allison, then Hannah. Their older brother, Tommy, is also a Jaguar. They're hardly the first sibling set to study at IUPUI at the same time. They are, however, in the more unusual position of working together, simultaneously, in the Campus Center.

Tiffany, a returning student already holding her first bachelor's degree from IUPUI in neuroscience, and Hannah, a sophomore, are both currently studying in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. They're also both building managers, the highest position on offer to a student, "basically making sure that the building policies are followed and the building is still there," said Tiffany.

Employed on Campus

The Campus Center employed 72 students during the 2016-17 school year, contributing to the IUPUI Division of Student Affairs' university-high 204 student employees. The division's total represents almost 7 percent of all students employed on campus.

Allison, a senior in informatics, works in the Campus Center Game Room, where Tiffany began her stint with the facility.

"I'm the original Mills who worked at the Campus Center," Tiffany said. "I worked there about 2 1/2 years. That's about when Hannah graduated high school, and I told her, 'Hey, the Campus Center is awesome. You get a lot of leadership opportunities, and that looks great on a resume.' I encouraged her to work there. I knew that the staff is just amazing to work with. They're extremely supportive. Whatever you put into the experience, you get out of the experience -- and then a little bit more. I just felt like it would be extremely beneficial to her."

Hannah couldn't agree more, adding: "I love that we have a really inclusive environment where everyone is welcome. There's never a day when you come to work and you really dread it. You always look forward to coming in and seeing your crew, even if you have to come in at 5 a.m. They're very supportive about helping you improve.

"Because I started working at the Campus Center as a freshman, it helped me develop good, quality friendships starting out in college. It was really nice because I already knew some people here, and it helped me branch out and feel less intimidated to talk to people."

Some might balk at working so closely with family members, but not the Millses. Having moved frequently as children, with each of the sisters being born in a different state, they've formed strong bonds.

"I do have shifts with Allison," said Tiffany, who rarely gets to work with Hannah due to their similar roles. "Those are always really fun. You get used to the dynamic. She's always a super-hard worker, so she's always looking for tasks. She knows if she asks me, I can find something for her.

"With my sisters, especially, we have a very good, honest relationship about communication. I know that if I have a problem with a shift overlap with Hannah, I can ask her, 'What's going on?' And it's OK. It's not like we're offended."

The Mills family won't be the only one on campus this month, as the Division of Student Affairs hosts Family Weekend Oct. 27-29. Over the course of three days, parents and families can participate in fun activities such as Coffee and Canvas for the artistically inclined and/or caffeine-addicted, the Family Social and Capes for Kids Service Project, movies, and sporting events with their students.

Many of these events will take place in the Campus Center, which is fitting given how both Hannah and Tiffany describe the heart of campus and those who work within its walls. Is it safe to say the Campus Center is like a family?

"That's a big understatement!" says Tiffany. "It's very much a family atmosphere overall."

For more information and a complete schedule for the third annual Family Weekend, visit families.iupui.edu.