By Kasy Long
Jan 19, 2023
Alexa Gilman knew she wanted to be an Indiana State Sycamore since attending her first sporting event as a young child. The sophomore computer science student – who is minoring in French language studies – remembered the lively activity at Sycamore basketball games. The energy felt contagious and she admired the sense of community shared among Sycamore students. When it came time for Gilman to choose the right university, it was an easy decision.
Indiana State already felt like home.
“Indiana State has a much better environment than I would have gotten if I went somewhere else. I have a connection with every professor, even the ones outside my major. Even though I’m close to home [in Clinton, Indiana], Indiana State is another home,” Gilman says.
Awarded a University Honors scholarship, Gilman was ready to absorb as much information as possible in Indiana State’s Honors College, an immersive academic unit offering unique courses in smaller learning environments. From Gilman’s experience, the Honors College provides opportunities for students to be challenged with their studies while learning alongside like-minded students who also care about their academics.
“The Honors College has pushed me out of my comfort zone and given me so many connections across campus and in the Terre Haute community,” she says.
The Sycamore has enjoyed creative, fun classes in the Honors College, including a course on the literary techniques used in the television drama Lost, taught by education professor Kevin Bolinger. Gilman and her fellow classmates watched the television show and analyzed the character models and ways the show borrowed themes from great works of literature. Gilman had never watched the show before enrolling in the course and she enjoyed the discussions.
“Dr. Bolinger taught me so much about life. His unconventional teaching style [with discussions in place of lectures] allowed me to have deeper thoughts about life than I thought when I registered for the class,” she adds.
Indiana State’s world-class faculty make a difference in their students’ academic success. Gilman says she has been influenced by Bolinger, communications professor Jennifer Mullen, and French professor Keri Yousif. She feels supported by her professors and says the engaging classes make learning more informative and meaningful.
Gilman is studying to be a software engineer, and she aspires to be a positive role model for other women in engineering. Currently, women only earn 20 percent of computer science degrees awarded in the United States, and they account for 34 percent of the workforce in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM] fields, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project.
Gilman wants to be a part of the national call for women to pursue STEM careers.
“I want to be successful in the technology field. It has been a male-dominated profession, and I want to succeed and inspire other women to become engineers,” she says.
Gilman lends her passion and innovative thinking to various campus organizations and service projects, including participating in leadership meetings for the University Honors Scholarship. The meetings have introduced her to leaders in the Indiana State campus community, and they have provided Gilman with the ability to make connections. She has been influenced by these role models and hopes she can be a similar type of leader for her peers and incoming Sycamores.
Gilman also assists Indiana State University Athletics by taking pictures and recording statistics during home athletic events, as well as helping with graphic design images for social media. Because she loved attending athletic events in her youth, this opportunity represents a full-circle moment for her. The learning experience also pushes her outside of her comfort zone.
“I am an introvert and Indiana State has helped me become an extrovert in certain settings. I talk to professors, authority figures, and other students, and this has helped strengthen my social skills,” Gilman says. “But I’m also learning so much about myself, how to be a leader, and how to prepare myself for my future career. These are important life lessons I needed to know.”
Gilman says she feels prepared to tackle any challenge. She credits her learning experiences at Indiana State, which have extended beyond the classroom.
“Indiana State is a bigger school with a small school feeling. The University has created friendships and the professors care about us. There’s a personal connection that’s hard to find anywhere else,” she says.
With dedication and guidance from faculty and campus mentors, Gilman is on her way to making a difference in STEM and wherever her future takes her. Because real software engineers wear BLUE!