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Q&A With Director of First Year Programs Alonzo Ross

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Tell us a little bit about your role and responsibilities at UIndy

As director of first-year programs and retention strategy, my primary focus is increasing retention on campus, particularly among first-years, through reactive and proactive initiatives. Due to my prior experience in retention and student support programming, I coach my team to emphasize relationship building and a community mentor-styled approach to coaching students to achieve academic success. Trust is paramount; each team member builds trust in our work with students. I lead the Center for First Year Experience and Student Success (formerly the Academic Success Center) and the Phil and Janet Terry Center for Campus Connections. These key areas provide coaching and support for all students, especially students experiencing academic and non-academic challenges. In this role, I am also responsible for coordinating the interdisciplinary New Student Experience courses, supporting students through the medical withdrawal process, and designing high-impact retention programs to support all greyhounds. 

Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in Milledgeville, Georgia. After ninth grade, I relocated to College Park, Georgia, and later graduated from North Clayton High School. 

What is your favorite hobby?

My favorite hobby is writing. Mrs. Ellison, my first-grade teacher, inspired me to continue to tell my story through writing. I started writing in first grade, and my writing was celebrated year after year after winning a host of Celebration of Writing contests. In high school, I wrote an essay that allowed me to visit The Gambia, West Africa, and Accra, Ghana. My eleventh-grade English teacher, Ms. Plummer urged me to submit the essay, and I am thankful that I did. My love of writing has transitioned into poetry and short story writing. 

What is the most recent book you’ve read?

The book I read last month was Man Enough, by Justin Baldoni, a good narrative about manhood and what it does and does not mean to be a man. It’s a great book that tackles body image, confidence, privilege, insecurity, and more. I am re-reading Leading Change, by John P. Kotter. My former work team and I read this book as the inspiration for the change we vowed to create for the betterment of our students. I found great value in the text through the eight-stage process of leading change. As a newer member of the UIndy team, I am reading this book for inspiration and strategy as I work to reimagine the new student experience for Greyhounds.  

Do you have any heroes?

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr is my hero. I am inspired by his selflessness and servant leadership through nonviolent resistance to achieve equal rights for Black Americans in this country. 

What is your favorite or dream travel destination?

Annually, my family vacations during the winter break to Florida and other destinations. Living in the midwest makes one yearn for warmer temperatures in the winter. Anywhere with temperatures over 70 degrees in December is ideal. The next destination will be expanding westward. I want to visit Arizona or California soon. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Indianapolis?

My favorite restaurant in Indianapolis is challenging because one of my favorite restaurants, Three Carrots, closed in October 2023. Three Carrots was a Fountain Square vegan restaurant featuring southern-inspired vegan options. Although I am not vegan, the food, customer service, and atmosphere were top-tier. I am searching for a NEW favorite restaurant at the moment. I encourage folks to send me some ideas.