By: Ashley Bergeron
Cynthia Murphy is the recruitment and retention counselor and academic advisor for Hispanic students. She has been here at IU South Bend since August 2004 and will retire in February this year. This Hispanic Heritage Month, “The Preface” is featuring a conversation with Murphy to commemorate her time at IU South Bend and her service to our community.
What has changed the most since you started working at IU South Bend?
Many things have changed since Murphy started working at IU South Bend. One of them is the Administration Building. While Murphy has been working here, the Administration Building got a makeover. This included the pedestrian bridge that connects the Grill – which was also renovated – and the Administration Building together.
Just like the Administration Building got renovated, the Grill did as well. It became livelier due to the renovation, which has a bunch of events happening there for Spirit Week alone. The renovation for the Administration Building happened in 2016, and the renovation for the Grill happened in 2012.
Another thing that has drastically changed, Murphy said, is housing. Before 2006, there was no on-campus residency option for students. Today, there are eight housing buildings that give students the option to live on campus, which Murphy said has allowed more students to access IU South Bend. Since housing is across the river, a pedestrian bridge was built along the housing.
What are you most proud of?
Murphy said she is proud of three things: the Emerson Collective project, the Latino Student Union’s “Miercoles Musicales” (Musical Wednesdays) series and the growth of the Hispanic community on campus.
In 2017, in collaboration with the California-based social justice organization Emerson Collective, IU South Bend hosted an event to participate in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)/Inside Out Dreamers project. Attendees had their picture taken and printed onto a poster, which was then glued onto one of the walls of the building where the bookstore is currently located with biodegradable wheat glue. This art project was a response to Former President Donald Trump’s decision to end the DACA program by March 2018.
DACA is a program that protects approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from being deported.
“Miercoles Musicales” is a tradition that started recently in which a local Hispanic music group performs on campus every Wednesday during Hispanic Heritage Month.
Murphy said that this is what experiencing college is supposed to be like: in between classes, something is going on where students can just relax, even if it is just for five minutes.
Ever since Murphy started to work at IU South Bend, the Hispanic community has grown on campus. Currently, the Hispanic community makes up 20.4% of the total student body. When it reaches 25%, IU South Bend will become a Hispanic-Serving Institution. This will give IU South Bend access to things like scholarships and grants, which will benefit the overall community. Murphy is proud of the growth of the Hispanic community on campus and the aspiration to reach Hispanic-Serving Institution status.
Murphy said she is also proud of each one of her students who have graduated, regardless of the size of the impact that Murphy had on that student. She said she is proud and emotional at every annual commencement ceremony.
What’s next for you?
This semester is the last that Murphy will be on campus – kind of. Her full-time retirement date is Feb. 1, but Murphy said she still hopes to be involved in the IU South Bend community.
Due to age, increasing health complications and wanting to spend more time with her family, Murphy decided to retire. This wasn’t an easy decision, she said, as she loves working with her population and community.
Even though she is retiring, Murphy won’t stop getting involved. She would like to obtain a part-time job either at IU South Bend or in Goshen.
Murphy said her ideal job would be something where she can help her community. One idea she has is to be a part-time social worker at the K-12 system in Goshen. Another job that Murphy is interested in working in is a healthcare system like Maple City Health Care Center or Vista. This will be after she finishes her Master of Social Work from Goshen College, which is something she plans to finish after graduation.
Murphy said she is feeling a range of emotions as she gets ready for retirement: excitement, fear and grief, to name a few.
Right now, it is not known who will take her place, but Murphy said she believes that whoever does will be amazing.