Kimmie Collins

Kimmie Collins

The first day of school is an exciting time for college students, particularly first-year students. They make new friends, meet professors, and navigate around campus. They learn more about the university and find where they belong. At Indiana State, students aren’t the only ones who experience this adventure.

Indiana State’s mascot, Sycamore Sam, also participates in the fun. Sam’s journey as a Sycamore has now been described in a new children’s book, Sam Becomes a Sycamore.

Front cover design of children's book "Sam Becomes a Sycamore."

Written by alumna and communication graduate student Kimmie Collins, who earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing, the book describes Sycamore Sam’s first day as an Indiana State student. The book is intended to educate young readers about the University, campus life, and what it means to be a Sycamore. Readers could one day join Sycamore Sam on campus.

The book was illustrated by art alumna Katherine Bierly, ‘22, and designed by graphic design alumna Sarah Strain, ‘22. The team members collaborated on ideas to present Indiana State in a fun way for young readers. The project was supported by Indiana State’s Division of University Advancement and the McKee Fellowship – established in 2021 by the McKee family, which includes several generations of Sycamore alumni and donors. The fellowship supports the University’s President’s Scholars program.

“This project is absolutely a dream come true. To be able to share my Sycamore pride, while making an impact in the lives of students in my community, is such an incredible experience. I am so deeply grateful to the McKee family for allowing us to introduce Sycamore Sam to the next generation of Sycamores,” Collins says.

While the book is not yet available for purchase, Collins already has plans to present the story to children. In 2023, she (along with Sycamore Sam) will visit second-grade students in Terre Haute’s local community to host a Sycamore Storytime hour. Every student will receive a copy of the book.

“I hope this book plants the seed for students to begin dreaming about a college education and Indiana State while strengthening their current literacy skills,” Collins says.

Two women pose with a copy of the children's book "Sam Becomes a Sycamore."

Kimmie Collins (left) and Katherine Bierly (right) with a copy of “Sam Becomes a Sycamore.”

The proud Sycamore is ready to share the University with young students. “I am hopeful that this book will inspire students to love Indiana State and Sycamore Sam as much as I do and will help them appreciate the positive impact that they can make in the lives of others.”

It is never too early to start thinking about the future, especially about a college education. With the help of reading and everyone’s favorite forest friend, children can begin their journey right now. Because dreaming about the future begins with BLUE!

Two women wearing black (left) and blue (right) holding a copy of the book "Sam Becomes a Sycamore."