Born and raised on a farm in rural Indiana, I was literally a “small town girl from Indiana.” My senior class was only 112, so I was eager to test myself and expand my horizons when I cultivated my Hoosier roots at Indiana University. I loved my experience, the challenge and meeting new people. When I graduated, I moved to Chicago to work for Deloitte, and experienced the Windy City from the 75th floor of what was referred to in 1985 as the Standard Oil Building (a.k.a. Aon Building).
After spending nearly six years in public accounting, I moved to Oak Park, Illinois, which was close to work and my husband’s hometown. We raised our family in Oak Park, and I worked for over 25 years in higher education before being called back to Indiana.
In July 2017, I was privileged to take on the presidency of Calumet College of St. Joseph, located in north Hammond. Calumet College fit with my commitment to making higher education accessible and affordable for those of diverse ages, abilities and backgrounds. The mission and diversity of the campus was inspiring, and I found a little gem along Lake Michigan that needed a cultivating of a different kind to help it grow and prosper.
During my first few months, I was able to identify all the incredible assets and resources around the college, which has recently been developed into a visual map of our community as campus. In the Whiting-Robertsdale area, which is bordered by Lake Michigan, there are miles of walking and biking trails, along with recreation at Wolf Lake and Lost Marsh Golf Course. A quick drive gets you to the 3 Dune Challenge at Indiana Dunes State Park and trails through the Indiana Dunes National Park.
In the past year, I have enjoyed local music at the Wolf Lake Pavilion, Horseshoe Venue, Whiting Lakefront, 119th Street band shell and the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso. The festivals and events that engage the community have been incredible, especially Festival of the Lakes, Pierogi Fest, Wickedly Whiting and the Whiting-Hammond After Midnight Ride.
Northwest Indiana is a place where you can have it all. I love the outdoors, so being so close to Lake Michigan beaches and the Indiana Dunes is a little slice of heaven. I can view the Chicago skyline from my office window and see Lake Michigan for as far as the eye can see. In 20 minutes, I can be in the city with all the energy and noise, or immersed in nature with the silence and peace that the sounds of nature can bring. I have tasted the food from Northwest Indiana, and I must say that there are many restaurants that provide the quality and service I value at a price that is affordable, which makes eating out more enjoyable.
I often say, “It is good to be back home in Indiana.” In fact, I just said those exact words to Gov. Eric Holcomb. I was expressing my appreciation for the value that Indiana places on education and making education affordable. Indiana generously supports need-based financial aid to help students attain a college degree. Calumet College of St. Joseph is also doing our part to keep tuition low, and we have the lowest tuition of any comprehensive private college in Indiana or the Chicagoland area.
My education and career has led me from Frankfort, Indiana, to Bloomington, Chicago, Oak Park and now back to Whiting. Additionally, I am fortunate to spend many weekends in Beverly Shores. So with lower taxes and cost of living, plentiful arts and entertainment, great state support for education, inspiration from nature and easy access to Chicago, I have crossed the border to find that the grass is greener on the other side.