This annual College of Arts + Sciences conference is an energizing and inspiring way to learn more about life after school. College alumni are eager to share their experiences in and out of school, offer insight into various industries, and dish out professional wisdom they've gained since attending IU.
Take the Connect Challenge
Compete for prizes by pitching your unique idea to a panel of industry professionals and alumni.
|Shontrai D. Irving|
Clinical Associate Professor of Business Law,
Purdue University Northwest
B.A. AAADS, Criminal Justice '97, M.A. Criminal Justice, J.D.'03
Irving is a former deputy prosecutor in Lake County, Ind. He spent nearly a decade as a corporate attorney for State Farm Litigation Counsel. He is presently a public defender in the Lake County Juvenile Court. He has served in various leadership roles within the bar and actively advocates for justice, equality, and inclusion. Irving is passionate about making a difference and bringing positive change in both the courtroom and the classroom. His greatest service to the community has been in his role as a single foster parent, having provided respite and foster care to nearly 60 children.
Co-founder of Lessonly, Author
B.A. '10, Brand Management & Advertising
Max Yoder is former CEO and co-founder of Lessonly and author of Do Better Work. Max lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife and daughter.
Schedule of Events
The Connect Challenge finalists will present pitches in each category to a panel of alumni and professional judges on Thursday, February 23 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Walter Center on the 2nd floor of Ernie Pyle Hall. Come watch!
Friday, February 24 • Tree Suites at the Indiana Memorial Union
Do Better Work with Max Yoder | Frangipani Room
Lessonly’s CEO, Max Yoder (B.A. '10), coined the phrase “Better Work” to describe moments where people find clarity, camaraderie, and progress at work. Learn how you can do ‘Better Work’ and how leadership can be people-centric.
*The first 50 students receive a copy of Max's book, 'Do Better Work.'
First-Gen: Navigating the Unknown | Dogwood Room
Navigating the college and career landscape as a first-generation college student can be overwhelming. Who can you turn to? What resources are available? Learn first-hand from those who’ve faced common first-gen challenges.
Panelists: Luke Chanley, TyShawna Herron, Sia Nyorkor, Bianca Tirado
Criminal Justice: It’s Not All Law & Order | Oak Room
Criminal justice offers diverse career opportunities in the public and private sectors. Learn more about available areas of work, and uncover how you can use the transferable skills you’re building in the classroom to start gaining experience in the field.
Panelists: Sean Esters, Jill Lees, J. Joseph Montgomery, Felicia Patel
Relationship Building in Non-Profits & the Arts | Maple Room
What does it take to grow a community and help others thrive? These alumni are dreamers, doers, and are ready to share what careers in nonprofits and community arts are all about.
Panelists: Ryan Hunley, Chaz Mottinger, Yecenia Tostado
Leading with LAMP | Walnut Room
The Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP) trains you to be an effective leader within and beyond the circles of business. These alumni have put their skills to the test, and so can you!
Panelists: Sam Cooke, Jocko Olexa, Calla Norman, Kyla Study, Nick Vachon
Crafting your Writing Career |Persimmon Room
Have you ever had a well-meaning adult tell you that writing isn’t a realistic career? Well, they were wrong! Writing careers don’t just involve writing novels (although there’s nothing wrong with that) but can extend to law, research, publishing, fundraising, and more.
Panelists: Anna Goodlett, Tori Lawhorn, Caroline A. Stephens Ryker
Peace Corps: The World + You |Sassafras Room
Peace Corps Volunteers work at the grassroots level to create lasting change and return with in-demand skills employers seek in today’s global economy. Returned volunteers share their stories to help you learn if Peace Corps is right for you.
Panelists: Amy Carroll Balcius, Nathan Brown, Alexandria Lopez, Jez McMillen, Justin Otten
MA & Ph.D. Workshop with Joel Lash | Charter Room
How do careers progress after an advanced degree in math, science, or technology? How does “industry” work? How are academic labs different? What’s it like to jump from one to the other?
Dr. Joel Lash has served in a variety of roles including experimental plasma physicist, mechanical engineer, manager of the world’s most powerful pulsed power facility, leader of a national laboratory’s facilities & infrastructure organization, and director of a research center responsible for explosive operations.
Drawing on his 27-year career journey, he is sharing his insights into how Liberal Arts training in math, science, and technology has served him throughout his career. Come prepared to flex your thoughts and converse about how your impactful career can unfold.
Taking Your Degree in the Liberal Arts to a Career in Education with Dr. Jill Underly| Ernie Pyle Hall, Room 206
Do you dream of working in education? After earning a bachelor’s degree in History and Sociology, Dr. Jill Underly taught high school in Indiana. Since then, she’s worked in all facets of public education, including her current position as Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Dr. Underly will share lessons she’s learned over her 24 years of experience. Come with questions!
In-Studio Discussion with Aaron Estabrook: Using Social Media to Brand Yourself Professionally | Kirkwood Hall 202
Join Aaron Estabrook, Digital Marketing Master, to learn how to manage and use social media as part of marketing and self-promotion. You might be surprised to learn it does not involve you being an influencer. Aaron teaches designers how to promote themselves, the projects that they work on, and the firms they work for through meaningful and authentic posting.
Connect + Luncheon | Frangipani Room
Connect with your fellow conference-goers over a provided lunch. Alumnus Shontrai D. Irving (AAADS '97, Criminal Justice '03) will receive the College of Arts + Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award, and the winners of the Connect Challenge will be announced. Please plan to stay for the duration of the session. Reservation required. Doors open at 11:45 a.m.
Rising by Lifting Others with Shontrai D. Irving | Dogwood Room
Join Shontrai Iriving, Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, and learn how you can rise above the challenges you face each day. Bring your questions and be prepared for a great conversation.
Creativity & Collaboration in Marketing, PR, and Advertising |Oak Room
Marketing is a fast-growing industry where you can specialize in a wide variety of roles based on your interests. How do you find your niche and break into this competitive field?
Panelists: Nathan Brown, Andrew Curtis, Aaron Estabrook, Ryan Hunley, Tori Lawhorn
Innovators, Entrepreneurs, & More |Maple Room
Are you a dreamer and a doer? A go-getter and a problem-solver? This session is for you if you want to work for yourself, launch a business or product, and put your name out in the world!
Panelists: Doug Dayhoff, Calla Norman, Lindsey Vertner
Contributing to the Greater Good: Government | Walnut Room
Align your personal and professional goals through service-oriented careers at the local, state, and national levels of government and adjacent industries.
Panelists: Joe Dixon, Joel Lash, Bianca Tirado, Jill Underly
The Art of Storytelling |Persimmon Room
Whether the work is in front of a camera or behind the scenes, in print or digital, careers in media revolve around storytelling. These alumni will share some of their best career stories and advice and help you learn how to share your story and break into the industry.
Panelists: Kelcey Carlson, Austin Francalancia, Anna Goodlett, Sia Nyorkor
The Case for Law: Careers in the Courtroom and Beyond | Sassafras Room
Law has an impact on nearly every industry imaginable, and opportunities in law are abundant and diverse. No matter your passions or skillset, there may be a legal career for you. Learn from these alumni who attended law school and built fascinating careers in the courtroom and beyond.
Panelists: Kate Mercer Lawson, J. Joseph Montgomery, Hillary Nienhouse, Caroline A. Stephens Ryker,
Possibilities in Psychology | Dogwood Room
From research to consulting, a degree in psychology opens the door to a plethora of potential career paths. Learn more about career possibilities, gaining experience, and starting a career that works for you.
Panelists: Dorienna Alfred, Sean Esters, Yecenia Tostado, Lindsey Vertner
Building Better Businesses | Maple Room
Step into the world of business for a moment with alumni who roll up their sleeves and get the job done. They’re connectors, motivators, and risk-takers that know what it takes to build thriving teams, relationships, and communities.
Panelists: Amy Carroll Balcius, Sam Cooke, Andrew Curtis, Doug Dayhoff, Felicia Patel, Chris Stafford
Practical Tips: Creative Portfolios, Internships & Designing Your Career | Oak Room
Join this open discussion and talk through navigating the internship search process. How can you create a stellar portfolio and present your best self? Come with questions and these experienced alumni will give you answers.
Panelists: Kelcey Carlson, Aaron Estabrook, Austin Francalancia, Joel Lash, Jill Underly
Quality of Life Sciences | Walnut Room
What kinds of careers can you get with a life sciences degree? Whether in labs or law, these alumni work in healthcare and medicine, but don't necessarily treat patients directly.
Panelists: Brooke Hannon, Kate Mercer Lawson, John Riddle, Andrew Rusch
B.A. '08, Communications
Director of Digital Marketing at OFS
Aaron is a digital marketing professional, speaker, and consultant with over 15 years of digital media experience, developing online strategies for such brands as The Academy Awards, IMDB, Mayo Clinic, Bridgestone Tires, and Lockheed Martin.
B.A.J. '15, Journalism
Associate Director of Market Engagement, IU Alumni Association
Alexandria was born and raised in Indiana and grew up going to IU football games. She graduated from the Media School in 2015. Her favorite moments during undergrad were studying abroad in Japan and Uganda. She is passionate about working with people and building a sense of community. She also enjoys traveling.
Amy Carroll Balcius
B.A. '94, Journalism, English Literature
Retired PwC Managing Director, board member & community volunteer
At IU, Amy was co-founder of IUDM in 1991, a member of Alpha Phi, an RA at Collins and on the Board of Aeons. After graduating, Amy served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Lithuania for over 3 years. Amy is a retired Managing Director at PwC. She’s currently active on several boards in the community.
B.F.A. '95, Graphic Design
President, FUEL VM
Curtis took his IU graphic design education and founded FUEL VM as a marcomm + brand development creative agency working with national brands from Fishers IN base of ops. Married: Marci Curtis (IU PT '95) Kids: daughter Delaney (20) is currently a junior @ IU / Kelley and son Vaughn (15).
B.A. '17, English, German
Editor, Criminology & Forensic Psychology Books at Springer Nature
Anna Goodlett is the editor for Criminology & Forensic Psychology books at Springer Nature, where she is building a book program that aims to address inequities and disparities within the field. She completed her MS in Digital and Print Media at NYU in 2019.
B.A. '09, Communications & Culture
Producer, 601 Productions
Austin is an award-winning producer and former film executive for features such as "Chef", “Nightcrawler", "The Mars Generation", "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" and Academy Award-winner, "Spotlight." He’s currently an adjunct professor at Indiana University’s Media School.
B.A '09, AAADS
Policy Consultant, South Bend Common Council
Bianca earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at Indiana University; her Executive Master of Nonprofit Administration from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. She's a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She resides in South Bend, IN with her wife Pamela.
B.A. '20, English
Innovation Fellow, enFocus
Calla is an innovation professional and marketer in South Bend, IN. She attended Indiana University Bloomington for her undergraduate degree, majoring in English, Food Studies, and the LAMP program. Calla went on to receive a master's in Food Studies and MBA at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.
Caroline A. Stephens Ryker
B.A. '14, Communication, English, PACE
Administrative Judge, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Ms. Stephens Ryker currently serves as an Administrative Judge for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where she hears employment discrimination cases. She is a graduate of IU Bloomington and the McKinney School of Law. Her legal career has focused on administrative adjudication.
B.A. '13, Journalism
Special Projects Manager, City of Bloomington
Chaz is a public servant, photographer, and arts programmer focused on education and community engagement! She works on arts and small business initiatives as Special Projects Manager in the City of Bloomington Economic and Sustainable Development and teaches photography in the community.
B.A. '87, Telecommunications
SVP, 1st Source Bank Wealth Advisory Services
Chris leads 1st Source Bank Wealth Advisory Services and offers nearly 30 years of financial services and insurance experience, including ten years at 1st Source where he served from 2013 - 2016 as President of 1st Source Insurance, and previously led the 1st Source Asset Advisor program.
B.S. '97, Psychology
CEO, Works of Faith Wellness and Consultation, LLC
Dorienna is a licensed psychologist in the state of Ohio and certified perinatal mental health therapist. She is the owner of Works of Faith Wellness and Consultation, LLC, in Columbus, Ohio, a private practice centered on perinatal mental health services.
B.A. ‘17, Criminal Justice
KPMG Senior Associate
Felicia has long been passionate about the public sector and has taken that passion through advisory services while also finding various volunteer opportunities.
B.A. '09, Elementary Education
Associate Director of Global Programs, Kelley School of Business MBA program
Dating back to her International Studies minor and subsequent years in Bulgaria as a Peace Corps volunteer, Jez is passionate about helping students gain a global perspective through study abroad. Before joining Kelley, she worked with O'Neill (SPEA) and the College Offices of International Affairs
B.A. '95, Criminal Justice
Chief of Police, IUPD – Bloomington
Chief Lees began her law enforcement career as an IUPD Cadet in 1993 and attended the IU Police Academy in 1994. In 1995, Lees began as a police officer at the Plainfield, IN Police Department where she served for almost 24 years before being selected as Chief of Police for IUPD Bloomington in 2019.
B.A. '99, History, Sociology
Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction
An Indiana native, Dr. Jill Underly was elected State Superintendent in 2021. Dr. Underly has a deep background in public education. Since 1999, she has worked in all facets of public education, from teacher, college advisor, and state agency administrator. She lives in SW Wisconsin with her family.
B.S. '92, Mathematics
Director, Engineering Science Center, Sandia National Laboratories
Dr. Lash joined Sandia in 1996 and has enjoyed multiple technical staff and leadership roles and currently serves as Director of the Engineering Science Center. After graduating from Indiana, he earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Nuclear Science from the University of Michigan.
B.A. '15, Criminal Justice, Spanish; B.S. '15, Public Affairs
Attorney, United States Courts
Joey is currently a law clerk to the Hon. Douglas R. Cole on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. He is a 2015 graduate of Indiana University and a 2020 graduate of Harvard Law School. Prior to law school, he worked as a police officer with IUPD.
B.S. '07, Biology
Following graduation from IU, John lived in Cambodia for eight years working in children's hospitals developing the clinical microbiology diagnostic capacity of government hospital staff. He currently works in pharmaceutical microbiology supporting drug product development.
B.A. ' 02, Anthropology
Director of Strategic Initiatives, IU School of Public Health
After graduating with a BA in Anthropology, Dr. Otten served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Macedonia. As an English teacher, he taught in a local primary school and worked with community NGOs on various projects. He then completed a PhD, and has been with the SPH-B since 2015.
B.A. '04, Religious Studies; B.S. '04, Chemistry
Partner, Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP
Kate Mercer-Lawson represents major nationwide clients in toxic-tort and product-liability cases focusing on asbestos, PCBs, and stray voltage. She was a law clerk in the federal courts (S.D. Indiana, 10th Circuit Court of Appeals) for four years.
B.S '09, Psychology
Mindset Expert, Professional Speaker, & President of Lindsey Vertner Global
From brain-dead & paralyzed to mindset expert, speaker & author! Lindsey Vertner coaches leaders to create a First Class Life by prioritizing their self-care, self-worth & self-discipline while decreasing the unproductive cycles of perfectionism, over-thinking & doubt. Her website is: www.LiveAFirstClassLife.com
B.A. '13, History, LAMP
Consultant, Boston Consulting Group
Nick Vachon is a Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, with prior experience as a high school math teacher, school operations administrator, and nonprofit communications director. He is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School (MPA), the MIT Sloan School of Management (MBA), and IU (BA/LAMP).
B.A. '06, Advertising
Owner and Art Director, Second Street Creative
Ryan Hunley is the owner & Art Director at Second Street Creative, an Indianapolis-based design studio specializing in building thoughtful brands and engaging web products. Ryan lives in downtown Indianapolis with wife, a former educator and newly elected State Senator, and two teenage daughters
B.A. '16, Journalism, Communication & Culture
Director of Communications and Marketing, Monroe County Public Library
Tori conceptualizes and oversees all communications and marketing efforts for the Monroe County Public Library system. She also has professional communications and writing experience in the medical device, financial, and technology fields. She lives in Bloomington with her husband and cat.
B.S. '05 Psychology; B.A. '05, Spanish
Executive Director, Project Azul
Yecenia leads a nonprofit organization focused on supporting blue collar workers into better jobs and career growth pathways. She's focused her career on the nonprofit and higher education sectors, with a special focus on serving systemically marginalized populations.
B.A. '90, History
Colonel, United States Army (retired)
Commissioned as a Lieutenant via the IU Army Reserve Officer Training Program (ROTC) serving almost 30 years in the Regular Army, in Logistics and Operations. Service led him to live in ten states, and eight countries. Last Summer he & his son walked 2 weeks on the Camino de Santiago, Spain.
B.A. '00, Journalism
News Anchor & Reporter, WOIO-TV, CBS Cleveland
Sia is an Emmy & Award-winning journalist working in the city of Cleveland, OH. Her reports have been featured on national shows such as TV One's Fatal Attraction, For My Man, Oxygen's Snapped & the ID channel. Nyorkor serves as NABJ Parliamentarian & loves to volunteer.
B.A. '96, Journalism
Television Evening News Anchor/Reporter KMSP-TV Minneapolis
Kelcey has anchored and reported on news events like the Boston Marathon Bombing, George Floyd’s death and continued story, Tim McVeigh’s Execution, and sports events like Super Bowls and Final Fours. Her experience spans 4 TV stations. She is married with three children and has completed 33 marathons.
B.A. '18, English
Business Development Lead, RSM US LLP
Sam leads business development for RSM US' Alliance, an affiliation of independent accounting, consulting and professional services firms that collaborate to create strategic value. Before joining RSM, Sam worked as a management consultant and business analyst at a start-up.
B.S. '15, Chemistry, Physics
LIMS Business Analyst – Catalent
Andrew has spent most of his career in Pharmaceuticals. He started out at Baxter as lab analyst then a quality line operations associate. He currently is a Lab database admin at Catalent. At IU he was involved in the Hutton Honors college and was a founding member of Beta Sigma Psi.
Sean M. Esters
B.S. ‘09, Psychology; B.A. '09, Criminal Justice
Business Development – Salesforce
Sean has Military and healthcare experience. He started his career in the criminal justice field as a counselor at a juvenile detention center. His career took him into healthcare sales and eventually to tech sales at Salesforce.
B.A. ‘18, Sociology, LAMP
Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley
Jocko has been at Morgan Stanley since graduation, developing an expertise in financial planning and investment management for high net worth individuals and families. During this time, he's earned his CFP® designation, and has been recognized as a Pacesetter’s Club Member, a global firm recognition.
B.A. '10, Journalism
Manager of Public Relations, Indiana Economic Development Corporation
As a Peace Corps (Philippines '14-'16) and AmeriCorps alum, Nathan has a history of mission-oriented communications. He's worked as a journalist, managed comms for the COVID response at the CO Dept of Public Health, and most recently, he managed IN's Sec of Commerce's communications at COP27 in Egypt.
BA '92, Philosophy, Spanish
CFO, INCOG BioPharma
Doug has been on the leadership team of five high-growth companies in the past 25 years. Combined, these companies have raised over $100M of private capital and created more than 500 jobs. He is currently the CFO of INCOG BioPharma Services, a contract manufacturer of injectable biopharmaceuticals
Kyla is currently a junior in the Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP). She is a double major working towards graduating early in December 2023. She has been a member in the psychology club and criminal Justice student associations at IU. In addition, she has worked multiple jobs during her time as a student.
Expected graduation year and degrees: B.A. ‘23 Psychology, Criminal Justice, LAMP Certificate, Minor in Economics
B.S. '03 Business, Certificate in Journalism
Career Coach, IU Walter Center for Career Achievement
Luke spent the first 16 years of his career as a middle school teacher. He also coached and was faculty advisor for a student leadership program. He’s now in higher education, serving as a Career Coach here on the IUB campus at the Walter Center for Career Achievement. Luke enjoys staying active in the community by serving on the board for the Kiwanis Club of South Central Indiana.
B.A. '19, Psychology
Career Coach, IU Walter Center for Career Achievement
TyShawna earned both her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree and Master of Science in Education, Counseling degree at Purdue University Fort Wayne. She was awarded Top 50 student of Purdue Fort Wayne in April 2022. She is a proud dog mom and enjoys service work in the community. She resides in Bloomington, IN with her dog, Bella.
B.A. '13, Spanish
Associate Director, Employer Relations
Hillary is an employee of the Walter Center, and is currently in the process of applying to law school. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish in 2013, and has since held multiple roles in various industries, from education to business. She plans to enroll in a JD program this fall, with the hopes of studying law in relation to business, tax, and economics.
BA ‘18, Biology
Proposal Lead, Catalent Pharma Solutions
Brooke started out with an Associate Scientist role in the QC Chemistry Lab at Catalent Biologics after graduation. She worked in the QC department for 4 years, and has now transitioned to a role on the Commercial Operations/Business Development team as a Proposal Lead. At IU, she participated in the Little 500 and Biology Club. Outside of work, she still has a passion for racing bikes and is the Team Director for the Upland Brewing Cycling Team.
Connect with Alumni Online
Use the Walter Center Success Network to follow up with alumni you meet at the Connect Conference, and find more College of Arts + Sciences alumni interested in connecting with students.