Her Story 2019

The next generation of innovative women

Ali Emswiller, first-year graduate student, Master of Public Affairs in nonprofit management at IUPUI

An IUPUI graduate student, Ali Emswiller has focused her major, and her spare time, on helping others. The Frankfort, Indiana, native has spent the past five years taking part in Jagathon: IUPUI's Dance Marathon, serving as vice president for finance as well as president. In that time, the group has raised more than $1 million and was integral in her decision to continue her education at IUPUI and to pursue a master's degree in nonprofit management in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI.

Ali Emswiller smiles at the camera, she is wearing a cap and gown for graduation
Ali Emswiller. Photo provided by Ali Emswiller

She also serves on the Executive Board of SPEA's Public Affairs Student Association, which promotes volunteerism and service in the Indianapolis area, and founded Be the Match on Campus at IUPUI, which supports the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry to provide life-saving treatments and cures for patients with blood disease.

Emswiller takes inspiration from her mother, who she said was her biggest role model growing up, teaching her to take pride in her work and to always strive for the best.

"She is always willing to lend a helping hand to others when they need it, even if it means going out of her way to do so," said Emswiller, who earned her Bachelor of Science degree in sports management from IUPUI. "She is the most well-respected person that I know, which is largely because of her kindness to others and resilience in the face of adversity."

After graduation, Emswiller aspires to be a leader in philanthropic fundraising and hopes to see more women take on leadership roles in this field.

"It is always refreshing to see a woman confidently lead with boldness and passion," she said. "Women have unique ideas and perspectives that deserve to be shared and heard. Also, coming from a background in sports management, I am excited by seeing more and more women entering this field as well. I believe that this allows for a new dialogue in athletics that hasn't existed previously. I believe wholeheartedly that the sharing of these new ideas is one of the strongest ways that we might be able to innovate as a society."

Grace Liu, a junior in marketing at IU Bloomington

Growing up in Beijing, China, Grace Liu didn't focus on gender when it came to finding inspiration. "My parents raised me without overemphasizing on the gender differences or barriers in terms of pursuing my passion and careers. Instead, they taught me that no matter who I am, where I am from or what situation I am in, if there is a will, there is a way."

Grace Liu smiles at the camera, she is posing in the art museum
Grace Liu. Photo provided by Grace Liu

Liu said she came to IU because of the Kelley School of Business' top-tier education. During her time on the Bloomington campus, she has been involved in Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Fraternity; StartupIU, a student group for entrepreneurs; and the American Marketing Association. She is also part of the IU 2020 series through the Office of the Provost, a four-year documentary project following the lives of students from IU Bloomington's class of 2020.

The Kelley School of Business student is hoping to make a difference entering a field that has been predominately male-dominated, especially in higher-level management. "It is very unfortunate that women are considered as minorities in the workforce even though women are 50 percent of the total population," she said. "I want to work in the business industry to make a difference. I believe that there are more and more talented young women working in various fields from banking to business analytics, and more women being the leaders in the industry. Even though there are still many issues such as gender inequalities, unequal pay and glass ceilings in companies, we are all making progress together."

Elizabeth Padfield, a senior studying business administration at IUPUC

When deciding to attend IUPUC, Elizabeth Padfield knew she would receive the education she needs to pursue a career in the business world. She didn't anticipate finding such a powerful role model in Julie Phillips, associate professor in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute at Columbus, who taught Padfield her freshman year and eventually became her mentor.

Elizabeth Padfield smiles at the camera
Elizabeth Padfield. Photo provided by Elizabeth Padfield

"Her attitude and enthusiasm were infectious, and she inspired me to have more confidence in a professional setting as well as in my personal life," said Padfield, whose major includes concentrations in marketing and management. "She was candid, funny, intelligent and always uplifting. I will forever be grateful for everything she has taught me about business, but I will forever be even more grateful for everything she taught me about being a better person."

In her attempts to reach her full potential, Padfiel keeps busy both on and off campus. At IUPUC, the Columbus, Indiana, native has served as a peer mentor for incoming freshmen, a student ambassador and co-secretary of her class. She is also an Honors Program student and a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, an honors society. She received the 2018 Overall Outstanding Student in Business Award and works in social media for the Office of Communications and Marketing. In 2017, Padfield took the opportunity to travel abroad, spending time in Hong Kong with the Division of Business.

Off campus, Padfield has served as vice president of education and secretary of Toastmasters, a public speaking organization that connects people who want to improve speaking and communications skills and has received numerous awards from the organization. She has also worked for Purdue Polytechnic Columbus as a student services worker and as a Keys Adventure and Out Island Mate for the Boy Scouts of America Florida National High Adventure Sea Base in the Florida Keys.

Looking to the future, Padfield is hopeful she will see more women holding powerful positions in the world of business and more women becoming entrepreneurs.

"I think women's voices will be heard more as they increase in number for board of director positions," she said. "Women have a place in the business world, and I believe we as a society are starting to see the positive impact of having more women in leadership roles."

Danielle Roeske, a sophomore studying accounting/finance at IU Northwest

Danielle Roeske knows education is important. But she isn't waiting for graduation day to get a jump start on her career. In addition to being a college student, Roeske is also the owner of her own business, Salon 618, and manages multiple rental properties in her area.

Danielle Roeske poses in front of a sign that says, "The promise of helping Indiana thrive."
Danielle Roeske. Photo provided by Danielle Roeske

On campus, Roeske works as the marketing intern in the Office of University Advancement and External Affairs at IU Northwest and is working on a digital scrapbook for the IU Bicentennial. The Hebron, Indiana, native also takes part in STARS, a business mentoring club, and TEAM, a business activity planning club. She served as vice president of communications for the Institute of Management Accountants and does marketing for the Redhawk Enterprise store on campus.

When it comes to role models, Roeske has plenty of women to look up to, including her mother, aunt, great-aunt and grandmothers who she said are always there to give advice, demonstrate how to be a strong woman, make her feel empowered and show her how important a good support system in life can be. In addition to her family, Roeske also turns to Helen Harmon, academic advisor for IU Northwest business students. Harmon has played a big role in Roeske's academic career, providing her an internship her freshman year and "always being there for her students."

As someone who has tackled the business world head-on, Roeske is hopeful gender will continue to play less and less of a role when it comes to defining success in the business world and all professional fields.

"As an entrepreneur I hope to see more women embracing business and the challenge of all that it entails," Roeske said. "I do believe that everyone should be treated equal and that no one should get a leg up just because of gender, race or their upbringing. I hope that in the future, all jobs are calculated by quality of work, and not simply by the check mark of a small box."

Taylor Webster, a senior studying political science at IU East

Growing up, Taylor Webster didn't have to look far for a female role model.

"My grandma is my biggest role model," she said. "She stepped up to help my dad raise my siblings and me when I was around 4 years old, always working more than one job to help provide for us. She exemplifies what it means to be a strong woman, and her selflessness is something I aspire to achieve in my own life."

Taylor Webster poses outside in front of trees with autumn leaves
Taylor Webster

Inspiring to make her own impact on others, Webster has devoted her time at IU East to organizations that help those in need receive the support they deserve. She started the campus's Multicultural Affairs Club, a student organization geared toward underrepresented students; served as Student Government president and student ambassador for the Office of Admissions; and serves as a representative on IU East's diversity committee and its Student Trustee search committee.

She has also worked for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Communication Center, helping students prepare for public speaking classes, and she works as a peer mentor for University College, where she serves as a resource for freshmen in their first-year seminar class. When she's not in class, where she is minoring in criminal justice, Webster interns at the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.

With plans to attend law school, Webster hopes to continue helping others, particularly making sure women in the law field continue to have a seat at the table.

"I think women revolutionize nearly every field in some way, so it is important that we are adequately represented and heard," she said. "I think that in the future we will see an increase in the influence of women of underrepresented groups in the legal field. The demographics of the United States are changing, and it's so important that the lawyers in this country -- people who have an astronomical impact on the judicial system and criminal justice system, for example -- are indicative of that change."