Indiana State addresses needs of commuters with lounges, scholarship

By: ISU Communications and Marketing Staff, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
October 9, 2009

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Being a commuter student on a college campus has its own unique challenges - battling traffic to get to campus, finding a parking spot, paying for gas and car maintenance, and finding a quiet place conducive to studying in between classes. Other students are raising families and working full or part-time in addition to the challenges of driving to class.

"Commuter students make up a majority of the student population at ISU," said Michael Gant, ISU commuter service coordinator. "It is important for the students to feel that their unique needs are being met by Indiana State."

To meet the needs of students, Indiana State has created two places where they can relax or study -- commuter lounges in Hulman Memorial Student Union, which opened last year, and the newest lounge, located on the second floor of Cunningham Memorial Library. In addition to the lounges, a scholarship has been designated for commuters.

"Commuters have unique challenges and we hope this scholarship helps them pursue their education while offsetting some expenses," Gant added.

The Commuter Student Scholarship offers up to $2000 in support, covering expenses such as gas, parking, books, childcare and fees. To be eligible, students had to be an undergraduate commuter with at least 63 hours and in good standing. Scholarship winners include:

• Pamela Bunnis, a mechanical engineering technology major from Solsberry
• Elizabeth Hilderbrand, a social major from Bloomfield
• Stephanie Ridge, an undeclared major from Terre Haute
• TiGre McNear, a human resources development major from Carmel
• Judy Branham, a communications major from Carbon
• Ashley Hendricks, a mathematics major from Vincennes
• Jennifer Grover, a nursing major from Terre Haute

The opportunity of a scholarship to offset expenses was welcomed by Bunnis, who is returning to Indiana State after a two year absence.

"I had all but given up on the possibility of returning and earning my degree," Bunnis, who drives 42 miles to campus, said. "I received a letter saying I only had my senior year to compete. That galvanized me and I am determined to complete my degree. I am a full-time student, attending classes five days a week."

Hendricks, married with two small children, drives from Vincennes four times a week to campus. Her husband is a student at Vincennes University. She appreciates what Indiana State is doing for student like herself.

"The scholarship is wonderful and greatly appreciated," she said. ‘The lounges help commuters make new friends. It's hard to approach people who already know each other."

McNear, who commutes 76 miles from Carmel, was able to complete the bulk of her coursework via distance education. When the class she needed was full, she had no choice but to become a commuter. The scholarship helps with those added expenses and serves as motivation.

"It reminds me that pursuing my degree is serious business and I need to get this done," McNear added.

She's utilized Indiana State's commuter lounges and views the space as a bit of a haven.

"The lounge gives me quiet time to focus on what I need to do without interruption," McNear said. "It's also given me the opportunity to meet new people."

Ridge, a single mother, doesn't drive long distances. Instead she juggles going to school, raising a child and working part-time as a waitress.

"Any extra financial assistance would help me accomplish my goals of finishing school and starting a job that lets me help others," she said.

Grover has always commuted to campus while studying nursing.

"I have never lived on campus," she said.

Grover, who is three semesters away from earning her degree, juggles many balls in the air.

"I work full-time in a factory four days a week and am a single parent of an 8-month-old son," she said. "That is in addition to keeping up my house."

"I was very lucky to get this scholarship," Grover said. "The commuter scholarship made it easier for me to come back this fall, helping me with books and a parking permit," she added.

Hilderbrand drives 60 miles one way to campus twice a week.

"Like most commuter students, I have a family and I work," she said. "The scholarship helps with driving costs, allowing me to focus on my studies."

She's utilized Indiana State's commuter lounges. Besides giving her a place to study, it has fostered a connection with others.

"It gives me a chance to connect with other students," Hilderbrand said. "When you commute, you're isolated. It's nice to be able to connect with people who have similar challenges."

For more information on services available to commuter students at Indiana State, go to http://www.indstate.edu/commuter/  or contact Mike Gant, commuter projects coordinator at 812-237-8423.

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Contact: Michael Gant, Commuter Projects Coordinator - Indiana State University, 812-237-8423
Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, 812-237-3783 or paula.meyer@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

To meet the needs of students, Indiana State has created two places where they can relax or study -- commuter lounges in Hulman Memorial Student Union, which opened last year, and the newest lounge, located on the second floor of Cunningham Memorial Library. In addition to the lounges, a scholarship has been designated for commuters.

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