Indiana University senior Lauren Blackwell is conscious of the fact that she’s undergone somewhat of a transformation during her undergraduate experience at Indiana University. Upon her arrival on campus, the Gary, Ind., native found a community within three programs under the umbrella of IU’s Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA)—the African American Dance Company, the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, and the Groups Scholars Program.
In her own words, they helped her mature from, “a little freshman who didn’t know anything about life to somebody who’s about to graduate and has a better insight about school and life” over her years in Bloomington.
The second-oldest of eight children in a blended family, Blackwell learned about the dance company from her cousin and 2015 IU graduate Brittany Patikas.
“It was the first Tuesday of my first semester. I’ll never forget it,” recalled Blackwell, a health administration major. “Being a member of the dance company has been life-changing, because we don’t just dance. There’s always a meaning behind it. Professor [Iris] Rosa teaches us about what it means and what’s going on, and she gives us an opportunity to express that and show how we feel about issues, through our movement or even in words, if we have a discussion in class.