Category: Our Town

Lillian Casillas: Latino Community Advocate

When Lillian Casillas moved to Bloomington from northwestern Indiana in 1985, she joined thousands of other young adults who left home to attend Indiana University. It was a common experience, but Casillas, a native of Mexico, says her Latino heritage and its emphasis on family made the move more significant for her, both geographically and culturally.

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William Ramos: Water-Safety Expert

William Ramos has devoted his career to reducing the incidence of drowning. The director of the Indiana University Aquatic Institute and an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies in the IU School of Public Health, Ramos received IU’s 2019 Latino Faculty and Staff Distinguished Faculty Award for his work educating the public on water safety.

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John Thiel: Disabled Veteran Activist

Disabled by a leg injury he received in Vietnam, John Thiel retired from the U.S. Army and enrolled at Indiana University in 1971, almost 20 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Barbara Salisbury: Advocate for Blind

Barbara Salisbury probably thinks about getting from point A to point B more often than most people. “For people with disabilities, it doesn’t really matter how accessible the housing, the businesses, and educational settings in the community are if you don’t have a way to get to them,” she says. “Transportation is the glue that holds it all together.”

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Tyron Cooper: Musical Polymath

When Tyron Cooper was named director of the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture last year, he set a goal: “To bring our collection alive.”

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Steve Dawson: Engineer & Artist

A pivotal moment in Steve Dawson’s creative journey came in a workshop taught by Indianapolis painter C.W. Mundy. “I had told C.W. I was there because I wanted to be an artist,” Dawson explains. “I painted all that week, and at the end, C.W. pulled me aside and said, ‘Stop saying you want to be an artist; you are an artist. You don’t need any more classes. You just need to get out there and do it.’”

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Dov-Ber Kerler: 
Yiddish Scholar

Dov-Ber Kerler relishes Yiddish. “It’s a very different language,” says the Indiana University professor of Jewish studies and Germanic studies. “It’s the only other Jewish language that rose to such prominence to be able to rival Hebrew.”

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Michael Adams: Lexicographer

Most people think of dictionaries as thick volumes that lay out the definitions of words with resolute authority. But Michael Adams, provost professor of English at Indiana University, sees dictionaries as living documents, very human attempts to capture the complexity of language as it changes over time.

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Belinda Johnson-Hurtado: Attorney

The 2018 Women in the Law Recognition Award sits on Belinda Johnson-Hurtado’s desk at the Bloomington law firm Clendening, Johnson & Bohrer (CJB). The award, from the Indiana State Bar Association’s Women in Law Committee, celebrates her commitment to helping people overcome adversity, and serves as a reminder that her own path to success hasn’t been easy.

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Mary & Morris Hickman Foster Parents

In 29 years of foster parenting, Mary Hickman and her husband, Morris, helped raise 54 foster children alongside their own four children. Some of the foster children stayed as long as 10 years.

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