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Student Stories

As you are starting your college search, you are probably looking for a place that will feel like home. Everywhere you turn at Indiana University, you’ll find a new friend, a staff member who’s eager to help, or a professor who can teach you something new. That’s the beauty of IU: people from all over the state, country, and world come together to learn from and with each other.

Read the stories below to see how other students have succeeded at IU—and how you can too.

Student Stories

Jose says,

Jose D. Mitjavila

Year: Senior
Major: Neuroscience
Hometown: Tipton, IN
High School: Tipton High School

For Jose, success on campus is twofold; it’s about academics and community engagement. Jose encourages students to “be engaged in the community.” He believes that by not doing so, “You’re missing out on half the education you’re supposed to get at IU.” 

This philosophy of engagement led him to become a certified scuba diver through IU’s Underwater Recourses Management Certificate Program. In addition, Jose was elected as the Student Body President for Indiana University.

Academically, Jose has excelled with a major in neuroscience and minors in psychology, biology, and chemistry and is a recipient of the Hudson and Holland Scholarship. Jose has also been able to dive in to the research opportunities that IU provides, and he is exploring the brain at a molecular level as an undergraduate research assistant.

“Don’t be afraid to go and explore campus,” he says. “Talk to people. Reach out. Attend Events. Be engaged in the community."

Janelle Williams says, I like being active. There's so much to do at IU.

Janelle Williams

Year: Senior
Major: Marketing
Hometown: Gary, Indiana
High School: The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities

Ask Janelle what she’s involved with on campus, and she’ll smile and say, “Everything.” She's been a member of Union Board, the largest programming group on campus; the Student Alumni Association, which helps plan Homecoming; and 180 Degrees Counseling, which advises non-profit organizations. She's co-president of the Hudson and Holland Advisory Council and an usher at the IU Auditorium. (Her favorite shows so far: Legally Blonde and Blue Man Group.)

She’s explored IU’s vast academic offerings, taking courses in digital art and tourism. And she’s minoring in psychology.

IU’s academic and extracurricular options are a big reason Janelle chose IU. She also received an annual scholarship from the Hudson and Holland Scholars Program (HHSP), which helps students succeed in college and beyond.

Her IU activities—which have included an HHSP-sponsored trip to Ghana—have taught her valuable life lessons, like how to be a good leader. And they’ve introduced her to all kinds of people.

“I’ve learned so much from the people here, from how to work with others to what their culture is like,” she says. “They’ve helped me grow as a person.”

Leighton Johnson says,

Leighton Johnson

Year: Senior
Major: History and African American and African Disapora Studies
Hometown: Elkhart, IN
High School: Elkhart Central High School

At IU, Leighton has come to value diverse relationships. “What I’ve learned at IU,” he says, “is to invest in people.” It is through this lens that he’s been able to make the most of campus.

In the classroom, he studies history and African American and African diaspora studies. Leighton’s also had the opportunity to travel to India, where he learned about social justice, developing nations, and globalism. To him, these experiences and the people he’s met through them are essential. “The connections you make, the friendships you build and networks you establish--these will shape how successful you are in life.”

Outside of the classroom, not only is Leighton the president of the Multicultural Pre-Law Society, but he has also had the time to organize the IU Diversity Coalition Rally to advocate for inclusivity and positive change on campus.

IU has helped Leighton develop relationships that have led to his success and the success of those around him. To Leighton, “You’ll only truly be successful when you can work within a team and people trust you.”


Maria Alatorre

Year: Senior
Major: Biology
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
High School: Arsenal Technical High School

Maria chose IU for several reasons, including a Hudson and Holland Scholarship, the Hutton Honors College, and the variety of courses she could explore. But most of all, she says, “IU is doing great things, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

So she’s volunteered for Camp Kesem, a free summer camp for kids whose parents have had cancer—she says the experience was “magical.” And through Timmy Global Health, she traveled to Guatemala to help doctors and nurses provide health care to children and adults in rural areas.

Maria aspires to be a doctor or nurse practitioner herself, and the staff at IU’s Health Professions and Prelaw Center advises her on the courses to take to prepare for medical school. She also spent a summer doing pharmacological research and making connections with scientists at the IU Simon Cancer Center. Now she’s researching Huntington’s disease in a lab run by Dr. Joel Ybe.

“He’s very encouraging and teaches me what I need to know, but he also steps back and lets me figure things out on my own,” Maria says. “That’s been crucial to my learning.”

Maria’s entire time at IU has been this way: she’s gotten support when she’s needed it, but she’s also had the freedom to pursue her interests (she’s minoring in psychology and Spanish). “I’m really happy that I’ve had all of these experiences at IU,” she says.