On May 13, 2022, 150 undergraduate and twenty-eight graduate students commenced a new chapter in their professional lives. Indiana University Fort Wayne’s (IUFW’s) first graduating class boasts an impressive cohort of healthcare professionals. This group of students braved rigorous classes, nascent degree programs, rescheduled clinicals, and a worldwide pandemic. In addition to the complexities already inherent to pursuing a postsecondary education, it was a time of unprecedented pressure on the healthcare industry.
The four students spotlighted here persevered through this unique set of challenges, earned notable distinctions, maintained family and work schedules, and trained well to become the next generation of healthcare providers. While each of their ambitions and stories come from a unique perspective, all of the students spotlighted here share a passion for healthcare and service to others.
Hydeia graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree and has already hit the ground running toward her Master’s in the field. She worked for Phoenix Associates, a local counseling firm, while pursuing her undergraduate studies. She also volunteered with Allen County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Hydeia will work for the Department of Child Services while attending IUFW’s Master’s in Social Work program. Hydeia learned value of humbleness in volunteerism and also gained practical skills for deeper client engagement. “Sometimes people have a smile on their face but below the surface they need help,” she said. “I need to be resourceful and find a way to engage with these different individuals.”
Hydeia was introduced to health sciences in the field of nursing, but as her career took flight, she found social work to be the best long-term fit. She loves healthcare and the opportunities for advocacy that social work provides. Pursuing a four-year degree while working is not easy, and Hydeia learned early that self-care is essential. She recommends that incoming students plan ahead regarding the financial, physical, mental, and spiritual demands that accompany student life.
Hydeia is grateful for the support of her husband and credits her faith in God as the source of her strength. She is currently working to develop a blog and podcast with a focus on minority social workers. Watch for it later this summer!
Yusra has earned her degree in Health Sciences and a spot on the Dean’s List for Excellence in Academic Performance. She maintained an impressive level of community engagement while pursuing her degree. Yusra founded the IUFW Chapter of the Institute of Healthcare, an organization that connects the University’s health care programs with industry opportunities and internships. Yusra is also organizing a collaborative campus/community event to raise awareness of the refugee population in Fort Wayne.
Yusra is a 2022 winner of the Indiana University Building Bridges Award for her effort to support inclusivity, diversity, respect, and community service. Also, the founder of the Muslim Student Association at Purdue Fort Wayne, Yusra was instrumental in the creation of a prayer room for Muslims on campus. Her commitment to community involvement is already helping to shape her career path. “Community work, clubs, leadership roles, and job shadows all help a student appreciate the different routes a health sciences degree could take,” she said.
Yusra found that being in the inaugural class of health science majors at IUFW presented its own set of challenges. The program and the coursework needed reworking at times, resulting in changes to the course plan and material for her degree. Yusra remained flexible and worked as a Patient Care Tech at Lutheran Hospital while attending IUFW. She plans to pursue an advanced degree and is open to exploring both physician’s assistant and nurse practitioner programs in the area.
Lauren graduated in May with a degree in Medical Imaging. She enjoys patient care and she followed several paths in the medical field before finding her way to imaging program at Indiana University Fort Wayne. Lauren finds the daily aspects of her role rewarding and looks forward to serving the industry.
Lauren is a true hero, both on the job and off. She is a member of the Air National Guard and credits her military experience with preparing her to manage unexpected obstacles. One such obstacle was a pandemic-imposed hiatus from clinical work that lasted six months. This disruption did not stop Lauren from graduating on time and she is grateful to her professors for working diligently to keep her cohort on-track.
Lauren is an Indianapolis native but has grown to love Fort Wayne. It seems that this educated, hardworking, and well-trained military veteran might choose to stay in the Summit City. “It’s come to be my home,” she said in a May 1 Journal Gazette article. “Honestly, I could not have picked a better city.” Fort Wayne’s thriving medical industry is fortunate to attract such talent!