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Women in Science House Fosters Success and Impact
May 9 2012
Four years ago, five bright-eyed freshmen—away from home for the first time and full of uncertainty—lugged their belongings into the Women in Science House (WISH), a living and learning community on the campus of IUPUI.
Today, those same School of Science women will graduate among the top students on campus. Reflecting on their experiences, Kylie Bontrager, Jessica Hashu, Jessica Jackson, Jessica Rodenbeck and Ashley Winfield are thankful for having lived with like-minded science majors who were driven to have an impact both in and outside of the classroom.
“I honestly don’t know if I could have made it through college without WISH. This is where I learned how to study,” said Hashu. “We all work together to help each other succeed, which is definitely something you need to survive as a science major.”
But these women did more than just survive. They excelled. All five graduating WISH seniors were among IUPUI’s 2012 "Top 100" Students, who were honored for their academic success, extracurricular activities, and civic engagement. Jackson and Winfield also were honored with the 2012 William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion.
“I’m so proud of all these women for all they’ve accomplished, and I know I couldn’t have done it without their support,” said Bontrager. “Who can fail when you have so many great leaders and friends living right next door?”
All five women credited their decision to move into the WISH as a huge factor in their success. The built-in support system for WISH residents was immeasurable, they said.
“The camaraderie within the house is remarkable,” said Jackson. “By living here I have been immersed in an environment of ambitious women who are dedicated to all that they do and were a daily inspiration for me to do more and be more.”
What once was an unstructured group of science majors living under the same roof has grown into a formidable and respected campus organization. The residents have developed a course library with class notes from IUPUI courses and established the WISH Council, which was recognized as a three-star (highest level) student organization by the IUPUI Office of Student Involvement this year. They also organize study sessions as well as social, academic, and volunteer events throughout the year.
“Between the resources available and the amazing residents of WISH, I have always felt supported academically, emotionally, and professionally,” said Rodenbeck.
“Being a science major requires dedication and hard work. Living in WISH has helped me push through and succeed in my courses and career goals,” Winfield added. “We’re a family, and you know that everyone supports you – no matter what.”
“It’s definitely given me something more than just the average college experience,” Bontrager added.
Those friendships will extend beyond graduation day, and the outgoing women are happy that WISH is better positioned as a campus organization for the next generation of students.
Bontrager and Rodenbeck will be attending the IU School of Dentistry; Hashu plans to attend medical school; Jackson will be pursuing a Master's of Science in Genetic Counseling at the Indiana University School of Medicine; and Winfield plans to pursue a physician assistant degree.
IUPUI is home to several learning residential communities that house students in similar disciplines or backgrounds. The communities are designed to foster academic and personal growth by creating a support system for students while they live on campus.