In 2006, the William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion was established in order to honor both graduating bachelor’s and master’s students who have illustrated excellent service to their community. The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy had three undergraduate students chosen to receive this honor this year. Here, Elliot Dunbar, Taylor Parker, and Rosie Tarlton explain how they were involved in the community during their undergraduate careers, how studying philanthropy influenced their community engagement, and their plans after graduating.
Abby Rolland (AR): Can you talk about yourself and your background?
Elliot Dunbar (ED): I’m graduating with a bachelor’s degree in philanthropic studies with a certificate in nonprofit management and a certificate in event management. I grew up in Greencastle, Indiana where I learned about community service and civic engagement through my youth group. I attended mission trips every summer growing up and fell in love with working in the community. I originally intended on studying paramedic science at IUPUI, but after working on the ambulance, decided I wanted a different career and stumbled across philanthropy. After taking a few classes, I chose to make it my major.
Taylor Parker (TP): I’m a graduating philanthropic studies student with keen interest in celebrity philanthropy and civic engagement. Throughout my time in the program, I’ve worked alongside Dr. Sara Konrath and served on the executive board for the Philanthropy Ambassadors Club.
Rosie Tarlton (RT): I’m graduating with a degree in philanthropic studies. I attended Jagathon, IUPUI’s Dance Marathon, as a senior in high school because I was a 2015 Riley Champion. Riley Champions are 7-8 individuals who have overcome adversity in their medical journeys and have continued to give back to the hospital. I shared my story at Jagathon and I loved it. I knew then I wanted to attend IUPUI and be a part of that organization. I started as an ASL interpreting major but through a conversation with an advisor learned about the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. I immediately started taking classes, and realized that this school is the place for me.
AR: How have you engaged and served the community throughout your time at IUPUI?
RT: First and foremost, I participated in Jagathon during my three years here. I was a committee member the first year on the family relations committee and then went onto two director roles on the executive board my last two years (director of outreach events and director of community engagement). This year we raised just over a half-million dollars—a recording breaking fundraising year for us! I also volunteered over 90 hours in the Child Life Zone at Riley Children’s Hospital over the span of three semesters. This is a fun area in the hospital for patients and their families to escape the medical aspect of the hospital.
TP: My primary passion is civic engagement, so I’ve used my time as an undergraduate student to help other students get involved and stay involved. This has happened through volunteering as a site leader during IUPUI’s Days of Service as well as hosting events, like clothes swaps and menstrual product drives, that allow students to see and serve a varied set of issues that the IUPUI community faces.
ED: Throughout my time here, I have been involved with Sigma Alpha Epsilon in various positions of leadership. I was able to get engaged with local organizations and help plan fundraising events supporting homeless and at-risk veterans and raising awareness and support for Riley Children’s Hospital. After my sophomore year, I spent the summer as a work projects coordinator with the organization YouthWorks in Logan, WV, where my team and I led local high-schoolers to plan and execute over 30 service projects. I studied abroad in Berlin, Germany and learned about the nonprofit sector there, which helped me better understand global philanthropy. Now, I work for the Indiana Masonic Home Foundation as a development associate. I have also taken on the youth director position at my home church and spend Sunday afternoons mentoring middle and high school students and helping them find ways to get involved in the community.
AR: How has your philanthropic studies education and experiences contributed to your involvement in the community?
TP: My education has shaped the way I go into any community event. I’m hyper-aware of my intentions in philanthropy and conscious of how my actions impact others along with the weight of my impact. My philanthropy is still tangible, but I intellectualize the process now.
RT: I am able to utilize what I learn in the classroom and implement it into the work that I do in the community. The fundraising skills and knowledge is what I have used most in the community during my work to raise funds for pediatric research. Also, bringing the work that I do in the community into my classwork is valuable for me when I am completing specific assignments because I am able to relate back to my experience and how it connects with the philanthropic studies curriculum.
ED: Through the school, I have learned how to be a more effective leader in my communities and I have been motivated and encouraged to explore new and innovative ways to make an impact.
AR: What are your next steps (in terms of future education, career plans, etc.) and how would you like to continue your engagement with the community?
ED: After graduating this May, I am continuing into the M.A. program with the school where I hope to learn more about economics, law, and development to make me a better practitioner of the field. As I go forward, I plan to find ways to be engaged in the community and connect them to my passions to make a difference in the world.
TP: I will be working at Newfields this summer as their docent program intern. Beyond that, I intend on working in philanthropy through the arts professionally, while helping my artist friends coordinate their own philanthropy on the side through establishing nonprofit relationships and hosting benefit shows.
RT: After this semester, I will be the development intern for Indiana University Foundation and the IUPUI School of Science. In August I will have completed all of my degree requirements and will officially be a graduate of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. After my internship, I hope to enter the nonprofit sector to do fundraising.
It’s truly an honor to have received this award. I am thankful for the opportunities, experience, and knowledge that the staff and faculty of this school have provided me. This would not be possible without the support from those at IUPUI, my family, and friends.
Tarlton was also chosen as a recipient of IUPUI’s Top 100, while master’s students Kinga Horvath and Mohamed Merzoug were also chosen as Plater Medallion recipients.