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Jaree Ervin-Weeks

Jaree Ervin-Weeks

IU School of Liberal Arts
April 2008

With her big smile and outgoing personality, looks and sounds like most any other IUPUI student. But looks can be deceiving, as the wife and mother of three well knows, since she is one of the university’s many nontraditional students.

Jaree began her collegiate career in 1988, chasing a degree in education on IU’s Bloomington campus, with plans to become a teacher. But a change of heart — not to mention her children and family life — intervened, and now the Zionsville resident and Fort Wayne native has returned to school, majoring in religious studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts. She’s also taken full advantage of IUPUI’s numerous interdisciplinary opportunities, minoring in African American & African Diaspora studies (another liberal arts program) and the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs’ American Humanics certificate in nonprofit management and leadership.

After Jaree receives her degree this spring, she’ll enter IUPUI’s nationally renowned philanthropic studies/public affairs dual-degree graduate program, with an eye toward working in a nonprofit organization. Her IUPUI career includes a trip to Detroit for the annual Saviours’ Day Celebration, a holiday of the Nation of Islam, to compare that event with a local African-American Easter service.

Such experiences have made Jaree a passionate advocate of other men and women — those of non-traditional college age — to re-enroll and chase their own dreams. Her dreams include a plunge into student life as vice president of the American Humanics Student Association and member of the Religious Studies Student Association, and an ongoing desire to serve her community as a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), training for In Our Own Voice, NAMI’s public education program.

She may be both a mother and a college student, but Jaree — a high school softball standout for Fort Wayne South High School — still carves out some time for her own hobbies. She still plays softball in her church league, and the woman who once performed for the IU Soul Revue dance troupe during her Bloomington days still dances — this time “just for fun.”

Jaree’s return to school has given her children some fun of their own: she admits they enjoy “reminding Mom that she has homework” to do.

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