Noelle Gipson

Can one person really make a difference?

Noelle Gipson has spent the last four years proving that yes, one person’s actions can have a lasting impact on the IU campus.

Some students spend their first semester at Indiana University trying to find their way around. Noelle Gipson spent hers trying to decide where she could make the biggest difference.

“I went to a lot of call out meetings freshman year. I loved that there were so many organizations for me to get involved in. The real challenge was deciding which opportunities were for me,” says Noelle, a May 2015 IU grad.

Once she narrowed her list, her activities had a few common themes: community service, student recruitment, and a focus on increasing the participation of diverse students in IU’s activities.

It’s important to get involved right away. Whether it’s with student organizations, recreational sports, or the Greek system, it doesn’t matter. There’s no reason to feel alone at IU.

Diversity matters

It’s her accomplishments within the latter category that she’s most proud of. After working to increase diversity in an unofficial capacity throughout her time at IU, she served as Chief of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs for IU’s Student Association during her senior year.

Whether she was organizing a round table discussion about underrepresented minorities in higher education or sponsoring a talk by a noted anti-racism activist, she had one goal during her tenure.

“I wanted to host events that spark conversation, bring diverse students out, and help them meet someone new.”

Noelle Gipson stands, hand on hip, in front of the Sample Gates.
Noelle Gipson

Broadening her horizons

That decision opened the door to many new opportunities, including the possibility of overseas study.

In fact, Noelle is leaving IU with three stamps on her passport.

Before you can change the world, you have to see it.

Her first overseas study experience was in London, where she spent a summer learning about nation building and exploring one of the world’s great cities.

But that only whetted her appetite for travel. The next summer found her participating in two study abroad programs. She completed a weeklong service trip to Jamaica before spending six and a half weeks interning for a political grassroots organization in Australia.

Her trips cemented both her desire to go into public service and her certainty that there’s no one right way to help people.

“You have to learn how to adapt your methods to the way different communities do things. That way you can help them make a better life for themselves rather than saying do this and you’ll be fine. That doesn’t work.”

Saying goodbye

For Noelle, the end is bittersweet. She knows she’ll miss the people she met here, especially her sorority sisters, but she’s satisfied with the impact she made at IU.

“When I was picking up my cap and gown today, I felt like I could look back and say, okay, I really accomplished something. I can graduate in peace knowing that I’m leaving IU a better place than it was when I came.”

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