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Celebrating IU Northwest’s Class of 2023

We’re all on the same team

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Tyler Houston

Basketball has been a constant in Tyler Houston’s life. The general studies graduate first came to Indiana University Northwest to play basketball and finish his bachelor’s degree after a stint at Prairie State College.

Since attending IU Northwest, Houston has had the opportunity to go to the NAIA Men’s Basketball National Tournament in 2022, as well as build relationships with his fellow teammates.

Ever since he can remember, the sport has been an integral part of his life. “I remember watching a ton of basketball games with my family and even playing basketball games on older game systems,” Houston said. “I’d always hang around my older brother and his friends, who all played sports. I quickly fell in love with the sport after following my brother around.”

Today, Houston is the one inspiring others to get involved in the game he loves. After volunteering at a church, he invited many of the children to shoot hoops and attend games at IU Northwest.

“Volunteering allows me to do something I love, which is give back and help others in my community,” Houston said.

While Houston works to support others, he recognizes the outstanding support his family gave him throughout his life. Between coming to his games and keeping him out of trouble, Houston said he wouldn’t have made it this far without them.

Between work, sports and family, Houston still finds time to be a star student. He’s earned a spot on the Dean’s List several times and succeeded despite the obstacles threatening his progress.

“I struggled with injuries, time management, bills and self-confidence,” he said. “I’ve had my ups and downs but still persevered through it all. I learned a lot about myself and what I want to do in the future.”

Houston said planning was crucial for overcoming the challenges he faced in college. Instead of simply treading water, he chose to keep a schedule, work on his procrastination tendencies and reduce the stress that comes with being a student.

“My mom would always tell me, ‘Plan ahead or you’ll be left behind,’” he remembered. “This advice helped me tremendously. Stay on top of what’s important — your future.”

Over the years, Houston received support from many people and, in turn, offered his support through campus jobs and volunteer work. His story is a reminder whether we’re on the court, in the classroom or volunteering with a nonprofit, we’re all on the same team when it comes to helping each other succeed.

Tyler Houston graduated with a B.S. in General Studies as part of Indiana University Northwest 2023 class.

Cherishing your time and making yourself proud

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Roxanne Robinson

Juggling all the aspects of life is nothing short of a challenge. Between keeping up with school and working a traditional job, it’s difficult to find time for yourself.

But for Roxanne Robinson, the hard work was worth the result. After earning her bachelor’s degree at Indiana University Northwest, she’s now completing her Master of Science in Nursing. “I always knew I would further my education and become an advanced practice nurse,” she said. “I wanted to care for a diverse patient population.”

One of her major interest areas is disease processes. Robinson said she’s spent lots of time researching diseases and what can be done to improve a patient’s health. “I love the idea of caring for everyone, young and old,” she said.

Robinson is a caring person by nature, so when her master’s education conflicted with her personal life, it was a major obstacle. She said she sometimes had to miss her children’s sporting events and forego time with family to take on the responsibility of earning an advanced degree.

“I cherished the time that I did have with my family when I was off, taking time out each day for my kids and husband to catch up,” Robinson said. “It was important for me to let them see that they were always on my mind.”

Fortunately, Robinson had extra support from her mother, Sherry. Just like her daughter, Sherry graduated from IU Northwest with an MSN. Roxanne Robinson said she was lucky to have a mother who understood all the challenges she was facing.

“My mom is one of the most compassionate, smartest and giving people I know,” Robinson said. “I have always looked up to her.”

Going forward, Robinson is excited to use her advanced education to care for patients. She credits the campus for boosting her confidence and giving her the chance to practice a wide variety of procedures, which will bolster her ability to provide quality care. She is also thankful for a core group of supportive women she met at IU Northwest, with whom she plans to keep in touch.

Robinson is ready to jump back into the field and create lasting relationships with people of all backgrounds. “I want to work locally as an advanced practice nurse serving the underrepresented and most vulnerable populations,” she said. “I feel everyone deserves quality, holistic and trustworthy care.”

Robinson considers herself a lifelong learner and encourages others to always make the most of their educational experiences. For her, giving up is never the answer and the hard work will always be worth it in the end.

“Graduating will be one of the proudest moments in your life,” Robinson said is her advice to others looking to get a master’s. “No one just handed it to you.”

While the journey wasn’t easy, the destination is worth it — especially for all the patients who will benefit from Robinson’s knowledge and compassion.

 Roxanne Robinson graduated with a M.S. in Nursing, family nurse practitioner as part of Indiana University Northwest 2023 class.

Learning your own strengths

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Camari Riley

We often assume teachers are the ones who had it easy in school and aced every test the first time. But that wasn’t quite the case for Camari Riley. Though she’s about to earn her education degree and take up a position as a visual arts teacher right here in Gary, her triumph didn’t come easy.

“Since I was a child, I have always experienced struggle to reach a milestone,” she said. “I was unable to pass a state test, and I was left with no other option but to delay my graduation.”

It took three years to rebuild her confidence, but with determination and paying attention to her own needs, Riley returned to IU Northwest in 2021 and earned a perfect GPA.

After looking closely at her weaknesses, she learned the more she studied, the more overwhelmed she felt. Doing things the traditional way wasn’t preparing her for success. “I did not at first recognize my learning style. I am extremely visual, so instead of reading information from a book, I had begun to find videos that provided the same information. Therefore, I was able to retain it better,” she said.

Even though her classes weren’t a walk in the park, Riley’s love for art never wavered. “I believe that art and connecting with children are two talents of mine. Once I realized that the two could be combined as a career, I was all-game for whatever it took to become an art teacher,” she said.

In addition to sharing her love for the arts with children, Riley is bringing her talents to the community. Since fall 2020, she’s been running her own photography business, CLR Visuals. Riley has photographed couples, models and fellow graduates.

The level of success Riley is experiencing today didn’t seem possible for her a few years ago. Beyond her own perseverance, she recognizes the fine arts department, as well as the School of Education, with giving her the tools she needed to learn her own strengths.

“The IUN arts department provided me with a bounty of exposure as to what it means to be an artist,” Riley said. “Also, the education department has definitely opened my eyes to discover the recipe for what it means to be a successful educator.”

Riley mentioned that each of her professors brought a unique energy to the classroom and helped her build confidence in her teaching and art skills. At the close of her time at IU Northwest, she knows she’s never alone.

“It may seem as if you’re going through this alone, but there is a considerable amount of people who experience the same challenge that you may be facing,” she said. “Test anxiety does not define you or your ability to learn.”

Riley is certainly not defined by her hardships. Instead, she’s a graduate, artist, teacher, photographer and so much more.

Camari Riley graduated with a B.S. in Education, visual arts education as part of Indiana University Northwest 2023 class.

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