Honorary alum inspires opportunities for the next generation
A dedicated leader and friend to many, Paul Washington-Lacey was known for decades of advocacy and mentorship at the University of Indianapolis. In 2017, friends and family honored his memory by establishing a leadership program in his name for students at UIndy.
The Paul Washington-Lacey Emerging Leader Program inspires student growth in four key areas: academic excellence, career readiness, leadership development, and personal growth. Students meet regularly for team-bonding activities, professional networking events, workshops, and awards dinners. They compete in challenges that address real-world situations, like food insecurity, and advocate for the needs of students through meetings with university leadership.
“My experience so far has been beautiful. I remember walking into the room when we had our first meeting and seeing fellow Black leaders. I felt safe and overwhelmingly happy to see people who look like me and have a shared experience in the same room,” said Black Student Association Secretary Primrose Paul ’23 (biology).
The program is collaboratively led by the Office of Inclusion and Equity, the Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Programs, Student Affairs, Professional Edge Center, and the Office of University Advancement.
“We want to empower students by putting them in the same spaces with mentors, creating relationship-building opportunities, and challenging them. Students are getting feedback from people in fields they are aspiring to be in, and they’re responding to something they have ownership in,” said Dr. Amber R. Smith, vice president and chief inclusion & equity officer.
The program shows students how to use their voices, skills, and experiences to achieve what they want, said Tylyn Johnson ’22 (social work), who is also in the Ron & Laura Strain Honors College.
“For me, I think that’s a grand thing, because oftentimes, students are, unintentionally or otherwise, pushed towards working in their own silos with somewhat limited interaction with others. There’s so much to be gained from understanding and engaging with those intersections of subject, of identity, and so much more.”
At the Inclusive Leadership Institute event in January, to kick off the new year, students engaged in activities about how to best approach obstacles, overcome adversity, and receive constructive feedback.
“I think the most important virtue that Dr. Smith has emphasized is allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in order to overcome the numerous things life constantly throws at us,” Paul said.
Starting in the ninth grade, 21st-Century Scholars across Indiana can join the Edge Scholars program, a pipeline to a University of Indianapolis education tailored to each student’s needs and interests.
The program helps young adults build inclusive leadership skills and design their four-year college journey. Through service, living-learning communities, and more, Edge Scholars find the support they need to complete their education, build their portfolio, and ignite their passion.
- 9th grade: Become an Edge Scholar
- 10th grade: Create tailored plan based on student’s interests
- 11th grade: Summer experience at UIndy
- 12th grade: Apply for scholarships
- Freshman Year at UIndy: Connect with UIndy living-learning community, Join the Paul Washington-Lacey Emerging Leader Program, Professional Edge Institute, and connect with mentors