By Alysa Morley
Oct 20, 2022
Communication major and dance minor Cierra McCaleb (’21) says Indiana State University’s Sycamore family came together when she needed them most.
She credits that care and support for helping her persevere through a health crisis to finish her degree and find a job she loves.
As a junior at Indiana State, McCaleb received a cancer diagnosis – doctors had discovered a lemon-sized tumor on her pancreas. Three weeks after surgery, with months of recovery and uncertainty to come, McCaleb returned to State determined to earn her diploma on time.
She began her college career as a Project Success student, and those lasting connections helped her finish. McCaleb said Stephanie Pearcy, Success Programs Director, and Dr. Linda Maule, University College Dean, “went above and beyond” to assist her.
Dance instructor Teresa McCullough also encouraged her to visit the Student Counseling Center. “It was a godsend in supporting my mental health,” McCaleb said. Many more Sycamores she met around campus offered help, resources, and guidance, as well.
Eventually, McCaleb recovered enough to complete her dance minor and learn a new favorite style of dance – tap dancing!
Now, nearly three years after being declared cancer-free, McCaleb’s life looks different than she could have imagined in 2019.
In June, she began a new job as Community Outreach Coordinator at the Pike County Trustee’s Office in Indianapolis. She also joined the Indiana Pacers Hype Crew to pursue her dreams as a professional dancer.
“Everything came together at exactly the right time,” McCaleb said, reflecting on her life after graduation. “It’s been overwhelming, but I am so grateful.”
Her job with the Trustee’s Office is the perfect place for McCaleb to apply her communications skills. She plans events and helps coordinate various community programs: a food pantry to fight food insecurity; toy and backpack drives for children; diaper and care-package drives for parents, and much more.
That’s not enough for McCaleb, though. She wants to help as many people as possible.
“I love changing people’s lives through networking and getting creative to make our programs the best they can be,” she said. “I want to secure bigger partnerships and more funding because our programs have the potential to do so much more.”
At work, McCaleb is often the youngest person in the room, but her Communication degree from Indiana State helped her to become a strong public speaker.
Whether meeting community members face-to-face or public figures in boardrooms, McCaleb said that her “young age helps me bring fresh ideas to the table, and my professors taught me what I need to know to be successful.”
Her ideas have helped her team reach people through social media, grow partnerships with businesses, and create excitement about positive change in the community, but that’s just the beginning. McCaleb plans to implement new programs and “to make existing programs bigger and better to help more people in the community.”
“When you know yourself and you know your gifts, you can use them as secret weapons to be successful in your career,” concluded the Sycamore alumna.
Because confidence and achievement begin with BLUE!