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IUPUI Senior Receives 2019 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award

From the thousands of graduating seniors who have participated in Miracle Network Dance Marathonat the approximately 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada, twenty students were selected to receive the 2019 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award for making an exceptional impact within their Dance Marathon program, on their individual campus and for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. To see all of this year’s recipients, click here

Hometown: Avon, Indiana

Degree(s): Bachelor of Science in Marketing

Dance Marathon Involvement: Over the course of my four years involved with Jagathon at IUPUI, I have collectively raised $9,602.99 for Riley Hospital for Children and served as the Communications Coordinator (2015-2016), Director of Marketing (2016-2017), Director of Marketing (2017-2018), and the Vice President of External Relations (2018-2019).

Campus/Community Involvement: 21st Century Program and Orientation Team, Peer Mentor; Be the Match on campus member; Marketing Club member; Delta Sigma Pi Professional Business Fraternity, Pledge class president and Vice President of Chapter Operations; Undergraduate Student Government Senator

Awards/Recognition: IUPUI William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion; IUPUI Mays Family RISE Scholarship for Men in Business; Delta Sigma Pi Pledge of the Semester

Post-Graduation Plans: Moving to Washington D.C. mid-June to start my career in the National College Leadership Program with PSAV, a full-service global event production company, for 6 months. Upon completion of the program, I will be prepared for immediate placement into a Management role within the company. My goal is to get an MBA after real-world experience and become a CEO someday.

What personal accomplishment/contribution are you most proud of from your involvement in Dance Marathon?

A personal accomplishment/contribution I am most proud of would have to be increasing the awareness of dance marathon on IUPUI’s campus. My freshman year when I joined, I had no idea back then what dance marathon even was, I only joined because a group of guys told me it’s fun. When I became so heavily involved, I realized how important dance marathon is and as a member of the committee, I want to get the word out as much as possible because I eventually want many people to join this movement. Luckily, I was under the marketing committee and moved up to become the Director of Marketing into my sophomore year. This gave me the opportunity to collaborate with the executive board, strategize with my committee, and work with professional staff to find some ways to increase the knowledge of dance marathon on our campus. Jagathon: IUPUI’s Dance Marathon, started its first ever year-long campaign to connect people with a mission we want to focus on that appropriate year. We partnered with IUPUI communications to get our word out through their marketing channels since they had more followers than us. We also did some guerilla marketing on campus. An example: during our campaign launch, we went around campus and taped across all the 0’s on campus because we encouraged Zero Zeroes from all of our participants. Another example: We used post-it notes and spelled out FTK in our main building where there is heavy foot traffic. The following year I was the Director of Marketing again, so I had the opportunity to use some of the ideas from the previous year and grow on it. After some collaboration with my committee, we were able to build the first-ever Jagathon brand guide. This guide helped us boost our awareness tremendously because it was so unique on campus. I talked to my peers who were not involved with dance marathon, talk about what they would think of when they saw Jagathon’s brand colors and elements we had set in our brand guide. Jagathon had its highest registrants and attendance at the event during that year. Previous years, we never had over 1000 registrants but that year we were able to register over 1,200 people. Other organizations on campus reach out to us about how to promote their name on campus because of our growth in a short amount of time.

How has Dance Marathon impacted you as a student leader? What specific skills have you developed during your involvement?

As a student leader, this movement changed my career completely. I started IUPUI back in 2015 as a Biology student in the School of Science. I became so heavily involved with Jagathon my first year, that I was selected as the Director of Marketing the following year as a sophomore. I’ve been involved with the executive committee ever since. I loved what I was doing, which eventually made me change my degree program to Marketing in the Kelley School of Business. If I didn’t get involved, I would’ve been getting a degree in something I was not passionate about. Personally, I think I have developed many different skills during my involvement but some specific ones I want to point out are communication, delegating, responsibility, and commitment. Communication – need to be able to clearly and succinctly explain to your committee or directors everything from organizational goals to specific tasks. Delegating – need to identify the skills of each of your members, and assign duties to each member based on his or her skill set. By delegating tasks to committee members, I was able to focus on other important tasks. Responsibility – As a leader, I was responsible for both the successes and failures of my team. Therefore, I accepted to be willing to accept blame when something did not go correctly. Commitment – It is important for leaders to follow through with what they agree to do. I was willing to put in the extra hours to complete a task I was given; members will see this commitment and follow my example.

Why do you, personally, participate in Dance Marathon?

I participate in Dance Marathon because I want every child to have a happy and healthy childhood they deserve. I joined this movement because I believe that every kid deserves to have a fun, carefree childhood, which is not possible if they are in and out of the hospital constantly. Jagathon has given me so much, and I believe it is so important to give that all back to the kids who are treated at my local CMN hospitals. These children deserve to pursue their dreams just as much as any other kid, and we are the ones who will give them that chance. We are the generation who will spark the flame, each day working to leave this world a little better than how we found it when we woke up that morning. Most of us took our childhood for granted but there are kids every day who are fighting to spend that extra minute with their families. I could’ve waited for miracles to happen without being involved, but being in Dance Marathon helped me make those miracles.

Why should students get involved with Miracle Network Dance Marathon on their campus?

Dance Marathon is neither a dance nor a marathon; it is a celebration of life. Dance Marathon has been helping children with life-threatening illnesses for many years, giving financial and emotional support to hundreds of families across the nation. Students should get involved to make a difference in a child and family’s life. Just by getting to know them and fully supporting them, will make a huge impact. You become part of something greater than yourself. Sometimes, I think that we can all get carried away with the little difficulties in day-to-day life on the individual level, however, a group of people can do a lot, a group of people can come together as one and rise to the occasion to make something happen. I saw a quote from an unknown author that said, “If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. But if you want to touch the future, touch a life.” Too often I think we underestimate the power of a simple gesture such as a smile or a kind word, although that is what can brighten our day the most! I want to leave this answer with a few words from Dr. Martin Luther King. “Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know the second law of thermodynamics in to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”

How have you seen your Dance Marathon’s fundraising make an impact at your local CMN Hospital?

Jagathon has been helping children with life-threatening illnesses for 17 years, giving financial and emotional support for hundreds of families across Indiana through the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at Riley Hospital for Children. The impact we made has developed new therapies, including cellular and gene therapy, for diseases including neurofibromatosis, childhood cancers and leukemias, hemophilia, heart and lung problems, infectious diseases, and diabetes. $60,000 led to $1,853,280 for Dr. Mark Kaplan’s allergic inflammation research, $58,775 led to $1,850,000 for Dr. Mark Kelley’s cancer research, and $50,000 led to $1,827,000 for Dr. Raghu Mirmira’s diabetes research. Riley Hospital for Children has been able to offer one of the most comprehensive pediatric diabetes care and research programs in the nation, which includes: Education and support for equipment such as glucose monitors and insulin pumps, and lab research investigating ways to predict diabetes and preserve insulin-producing beta cells.

Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving over 400 colleges, universities and K-12 schools across North America that fundraise for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since its inception in 1991, Miracle Network Dance Marathon has raised more than $250 million–ensuring that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone.

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