The spring semester looks much different now than it has in years past. Classrooms that once hosted engaging discussions now sit empty—the conversations have been moved online in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic.
Yet while most students may no longer be on campus, their hard work continues. IUPUI is recognizing some of those students through its annual Top 100 Awards. Each year, the IUPUI Office of Alumni Relations honors 100 outstanding undergraduate students who demonstrate excellence in three categories—academics, campus leadership, and community engagement.
That includes O’Neill students Cassidy Caudill, Alexander Clausius, and Blaire Viehweg. The trio found out they had been selected for IUPUI’s Top 100 in February. All three say the selection is a humbling yet exciting experience for them.
“I was ecstatic,” said Viehweg, who is studying criminal justice. “I felt my past four years of hard work were recognized to the highest award possible.”
Clausius, a public safety management major, added, “I immediately thought of the countless individuals in my life who have helped me in my journey to reach this achievement. From my parents and friends, to the academic and professional advisors here at O’Neill. I will forever be thankful for their support and impact on my life.”
Those advisors played a key role in Viehweg and Clausius’ decisions to attend O’Neill. They both say they weren’t sure which direction their college career would take—until they met with O’Neill Academic Advisor James Eckerty.
“James and I discussed how O’Neill IUPUI’s public safety program was unlike any other in the nation,” Clausius explained. “We talked about the IUPD Cadet program and its unique ability to launch a career in law enforcement. Ultimately, I choose to attend the O’Neill school because of the opportunities it provides for its students and the staff who make you feel like family.”
That same feeling is what drew Caudill to O’Neill as well.
“Since my first visit at O’Neill, I was made to feel at home,” said Caudill, a policy studies major. “O’Neill faculty, staff, and students have always been so kind.”
The connection to faculty and O’Neill experiences helped all three students solidify their future career paths.
Caudill says she arrived at IUPUI with an interest in public policy and helping her community—but wasn’t sure how to turn that into a career.
“I want to be able to analyze public problems and find solutions to better the lives of the Indianapolis community,” Caudill said. “Once I was able to talk with O’Neill faculty, I was sold on the policy studies track!”
For Viehweg, it was O’Neill’s Themed Learning Community during freshman year that helped bring her future into focus.
“I have always been interested in criminal justice—I was one of those people who watched every crime show available,” Viehweg explained. “I came to O’Neill with one idea in mind: I wanted to pursue something in criminal justice. After completing O’Neill’s prison-based service-learning project as a freshman, I knew this was the major for me.”
And she didn’t wait to get her degree to start changing lives. During an internship at Pendleton Correctional Facility, Viehweg started a mentorship program for at-risk facility residents, called E.V.A. (Everyone’s Value is Acknowledged) after meeting Holocaust survivor Eva Kor.
“That was the most memorable project because I met some of the most remarkable individuals and learned so much from them,” she recalled. “This will help drive my career and help me to make a bigger difference in my community.”
She plans to get a jump on her career as soon as the semester is over and she has her degree in hand–and she’s working on two of them at once. Viehweg and Caudill are part of O’Neill’s Accelerated Master’s Program.Viehweg is pursuing her Master of Criminal Justice and Public Safety degree, while Caudill works on her Master of Public Affairs degree with a concentration in policy analysis. Clausius says he plans to pursue his master’s degree, as well, focusing on Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
All three are committed to making a difference in their communities and the world. That drive is what draws students to O’Neill—and these exceptional students are no exception to that mission.