PNC Receives Poster Commemorating Sandra Kowalski

Photo of nursing students with Kowalski poster

PNC nursing students MaCahlia Reyes and Trey Padlo with Stanley Kowalksi

The Purdue University North Central Department of Nursing recently received a gift from long-time benefactor Stanley Kowalski that will serve to inspire nursing students as it honors a pioneer in local community health care.

Kowalski presented an original painting by Neil Kienitz in the style of the South Shore Line posters to the PNC Nursing Department that depicts his late wife Professor of Nursing Sandra Calkins Kowalski, Ph.D., and bears the notation, “Community Nursing – A PNC Legacy.”

The image of Sandra Calkins Kowalski was derived from a photo of her that was taken when she was a young nurse working with the Visiting Nurse Association of LaPorte County. The poster shows her tenderly caring for an elderly man and exemplifies the caring relationship and trust that takes places between a nursing professional and patient.

Stanley Kowalski visited the PNC Nursing lab to present his gift in front of a group of students in a Foundation of Nursing Practice class. He took time to visit with each student, talking to them about his wife, her dedication to her profession, how she was part of the PNC Nursing program and her role in helping to establish and grow the practice of community nursing in the area.

Looking at the poster, he noted that the artist accurately captured his wife’s physical appearance and pointed out that her compassion and concern for her patient was obvious.

“She dedicated her life to her profession and her community,” he said. “She would be so proud of all of you and what you are doing to carry on her legacy of nursing.”

PNC student Trey Padlo said that he was moved by Kowalski’s recollections of his wife’s accomplishments and her commitment to nursing and educating future nurses. “It’s impressive to see how she impacted our curriculum today,” he said. “This is a great start for us as we look to the future.”

Student MaCahlia Reyes was happy that Kowalski took time to visit with the Nursing students. “He has an amazing passion for his wife’s work. We’re happy that he shared that to us at PNC.”

Kowalski presented each student in the Foundation of Nursing Practice class with a postcard-sized depiction of the poster he presented to PNC.

Posters made from the original painting will be displayed among the collection of similar works at The Framing Station in Michigan City and will be available for purchase. Proceeds will go to the Sandra Calkins Kowalski Community Nursing Fund to benefit PNC nursing students.

There will be a poster signing event at the Framing Station on April 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. as part of the Michigan City First Friday event.

Sandra Kowalski was born in Pennsylvania and earned her RN in 1960 from the University of Buffalo Edward J. Meyer Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. On Jan. 30, 1960 she married Stanley Kowalski, her high school sweetheart.

After the couple settled in LaPorte County, she dedicated her career to community health. She was the second nurse hired by the Visiting Nurses Association of LaPorte County and she worked to launch Michigan City’s Open Door Health Center.

Always continuing her education, she earned a degree from Purdue University Calumet in 1973 and a master’s degree in nursing from St. Xavier University in Chicago in 1977. She earned her Ph.D. in medical sociology from the University of Notre Dame in 1989.

In 1973, she was hired in as one of the first PNC Nursing faculty members. While still teaching at PNC, she pursued her master’s degree, traveling to Chicago for class. Much of her master’s lab experience was completed at the Mile Square Clinic located at the Cabrini Green and Robert Taylor housing communities. Sandy taught at Valparaiso University for 23 years.

As an educator, she created a number of community nursing courses and involved them in countless community nursing experiences.

Dr. Diane Spoljoric, chair of the PNC Department of Nursing and associate professor of Nursing, said that Sandra Kowalski was one of her professors when she was a nursing student. “I know that community nursing was a passion of hers. She was a remarkable person. I remember one of her catch phrases was ‘it’ll be o.k.’ She left an impression on all of us. This painting will remind us of why we do the work we do.”

Kowalski’s heart always remained with community nursing. She served on the boards of the Visiting Nurses Association, Concerned Citizens for the Homeless, Minority Health Coalition and the Stepping Stone Shelter for Abused Women in Michigan City. She was a member of the Porter County Task Force on HIV/AIDS. She was a key to the development of the Pastoral Care Council of Notre Dame Church in Long Beach.

Her career was honored with the 1992 JC Penney Golden Rule Award in partnership with the United Way; the 1999 Exchange Club of Michigan City’s Book of Golden Deeds Award and was recognized by Valparaiso University, Notre Dame University Alumni and the state of Indiana for her community service and contribution to learning.

While still in her 50s, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. To honor her life’s work, the Sandra Calkins Kowalski Community Nursing Fund was started in 2003 to provide support to PNC students who are pursuing an undergraduate nursing degree with emphasis on community nursing or public health. She passed away in May 2012 at the age of 72.

About a decade ago, Stanley Kowalski established The Sandra Calkins Kowalski Community Nursing Fund with the Unity Foundation of LaPorte County that is awarded to PNC students pursuing an undergraduate degree in Nursing.

“Perhaps Sandy’s ultimate contribution will be to inspire future health care professionals,” said Judy Jacobi, PNC assistant vice chancellor of Marketing and Campus Relations, a long-time friend of Sandra and Stanley Kowalski. “She was the ultimate nurse.”

PNC Delta Sigma Club Science Fair Results

Science Fair Winners

Left to right: Mackenzie Major, Kaleigh Ciesielski, Hannah Rigg

Students in grades 3 through 8 recently gathered at Purdue University North Central to participate in the PNC Delta Sigma science club science fair.

The Science Fair was intended to encourage scientific creativity, to engage young students in enlightening projects and to give them an opportunity to interact with students of similar interests to one another and with faculty from the PNC College of Science.

Many of the PNC students who are Delta Sigma members believe that participating in science fairs was instrumental in fostering an interest in science and ultimately choosing to embark on a path to a science degree.

The Science Fair results are:

Third and fourth grade winners: Lilith Rengstorf, Northview Elementary, Valparaiso; Violet Lukich, Eads Elementary, Munster;  Hannah Rigg, Kaleigh Ciesielski, & Mackenzie Major, Central Elementary, Valparaiso.

Fifth & sixth grade winners: Aidan Kraemer, Westville Elementary, Westville; Mason Kraemer, Westville Elementary, Westville; Hailey Rigg, Ben Franklin Middle School, Valparaiso.

Seventh & eighth grade winners: Mya Methner and classmates from the Renaissance Academy, La Porte.

The event sponsors were: PNC Chancellor Dr. James B. Dworkin; PNC Department of Biology/Chemistry; PNC Department of Physics/Math/Statistics; PNC College of Science;; Barnes and Noble; Albanese Candy; Sweet Lou, That’s Who, PNC Campus Shop and Horizon Gymnastics and Cheer.

PNC Porter County Academic Super Bowl Winners

A team of students from Valparaiso High School placed first overall in the Academic Super Bowl Invitational competition for Porter County students at Purdue University North Central.

The March 4 competition included teams from all nine Porter County High Schools: Boone Grove High School, Chesterton High School, Hebron High School, Kouts High School, Morgan Township High School, Portage High School, Valparaiso High School, Washington Township High School and Wheeler High School.

The team from Chesterton High School took second place and Washington Township took third.

The competition theme was The Grandeur That Was Rome” with students competing in six subject areas – math, English, science, fine arts, social studies and interdisciplinary.

The Porter County winners in each round were:

Math – first – Chesterton; second – Valparaiso; third – Boone Grove.

English – first – Washington Township; second – Boone Grove; third (tie) – Hebron and Portage.

Science – first – Washington Township; second – Boone Grove; third – Kouts.

Fine Arts – first – Valparaiso; second – Portage; third – Chesterton.

Social Studies – first – Chesterton; second – Valparaiso; third – Portage.

Interdisciplinary – first – Valparaiso; second – Chesterton; third – Portage.

Super Bowl competition in Indiana is a part of the Indiana Association of School Principals, Department of Student Programs. This unique inter-scholastic academic competition program allows Indiana’s senior high, junior, middle and elementary school students an opportunity to compete in academics similar to an athletic contest. The academic competitions encourage academic achievement by offering participants recognition and reward by honoring intellectual achievement, academic competition celebrating scholarship.

PNC LaPorte County Academic Super Bowl Winners

First Place Team Home Scholars

Home Scholars First row (seated): Aidan Maloney, McKenzie Kammann , Elizabeth Chesak , Audrey Ott , Miriam Trujillo; Second row (standing): Zac Felty, Sarah Fickel, Joseph Stewart, Adam Chesak, Josh Felty, Stephen Mathew, Bryn Warner, Hunter Olson, Richelle Szafasz

Purdue University North Central recently hosted the seventh annual LaPorte County and Beyond Senior Academic Super Bowl Open Invitational that drew teams from throughout Northwest Indiana.

The competition concluded with the Home Scholars team of home schooled students from Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties taking first place overall. Second place overall went the team from LaPorte High School and third place was earned by the Elkhart Christian Academy.

Participating schools were from LaPorte High School, Michigan City High School and Marquette High School of Michigan City; LaCrosse High School; Oregon-Davis High School of Hamlet; Elkhart Christian Academy; North White High School of Monon and the Home Scholars.

The 2015 competition theme was “The Grandeur That is Rome” and covered the six subject areas of English, science, fine arts, social studies, math and interdisciplinary. The winners in each round were:

Math – first – Home Scholars; second (tie) – Elkhart Christian Academy and LaPorte; third– North White.

English – first – Home Scholars; second – North White; third – LaPorte.

Science – first – Home Scholars; second – LaPorte; third – Elkhart Christian.

Fine Arts – first – Home Scholars; second – North White; third – Elkhart Christian.

Social Studies – first – Home Scholars; second – LaPorte; third – Elkhart Christian.

Interdisciplinary – first – Home Scholars; second – Elkhart Christian; third place –LaCrosse.

Super Bowl competition in Indiana is a part of the Indiana Association of School Principals, Department of Student Programs. This unique inter-scholastic academic competition program allows Indiana’s senior high, junior, middle and elementary school students an opportunity to compete in academics similar to an athletic contest. The academic competitions encourage academic achievement by offering participants recognition and reward by honoring intellectual achievement, academic competition celebrating scholarship.

PNC Students Earn Strosacker Professional Development Grants

Purdue University North Central Early Childhood Education students have earned Strosacker Professional Development Mini-Grants to be used for a variety of projects.

The Strosacker Foundation was established in 1957 by the late Charles J. Strosacker, one of the pioneers of the Dow Chemical Company. Strosacker was known for his philanthropy and throughout his life, gave to those in need. The foundation awarded more than $2.5 million in grants in 2013, according to its most recent annual report. Since 2010, more than $5,000 has been awarded to PNC for 30 mini-grants to support a variety of projects that have had an impact on children, ages birth to grade 3. Any PNC student is eligible to apply for this award.

Students earning awards and their projects are:

Victoria DeMan – “Groovin’ to the Beat” to purchase musical instruments for use in her future classroom. She also earned a grant to fund her attendance at the upcoming Indiana Campus Compact Service Engagement Summit in Indianapolis, where she will lead a session detailing how the PNC Early Childhood Education students developed the Library Sprouts reading program at the Westville and Wanatah libraries.

Angela Krueger – “Army of Readers” to be used for picture books.

Millette Noble – “Will You Read Me a Story” for materials to enhance the Listening Center for the Little School in Westville.

Erin Provenzano – “Music Library” for the purchase of musical instruments. She also earned a grant for her project, “One for Everyone” that will support the establishment of a grassroots organization that builds inclusive playgrounds that are accessible for children with disabilities.

Kelly Salyer – “Hands on Manipulatives” that will buy materials with a focus on math learning.

PNC Offers Great Smoky Mountains Travel Study Program

The Purdue University North Central Office of Graduate and Extended Learning and the College of Science will offer a travel study program to the Great Smoky Mountains Aug. 9 – 15. Students have the option to earn credit for this course. Community members may also take this as a non-credit experience. Participants will spend a week at the Tremont Institute learning about the natural history and ecology of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Everyone planning to take part in this trip must participate in a mandatory pre-trip meeting on July 22, from 6 to 9 p.m. on the PNC campus. There will also be a mandatory post-trip meeting on Aug. 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. The program fee for non-credit participants is $525. A deposit fee of $100 must be paid to the Office of Graduate and Extended Learning by May 1 at 4 p.m., and must be accompanied by the required travel study application. Full payment must be made by June 15 at 4p.m. Credit-seeking students must pay tuition fees to the Bursar’s Office.

The program fee will cover lodging and activities at the Tremont Institute, meals (not including meals during the trip to and from the Tremont Institute), student travel insurance and administrative and instructional expenses of the program. The program fee does not cover transportation costs (carpools are usually discussed in the pre-trip meeting), meals on the way to and from the Tremont Institute, lodging on the way to and from the Tremont Institute, textbooks, clothing, supplies, equipment and personal items.

To register or obtain further information, visit or contact Cassandra Boehlke, coordinator of Graduate and Extended Learning, at (219) 785-5200, ext. 5343, or

Transit Triangle Multi-Ride Passes Available Now

The Transit Triangle commuter bus service that connects LaPorte, Michigan City and Purdue University North Central now offers its riders the convenience of being able to purchase multi-ride passes.

“We are happy to offer our regular riders the opportunity to use the multi-ride passes,” said Robin Tillman, Michigan City transit director. “It is convenient and it is an economical option allowing riders to save money as well.”

The Transit Triangle fares are:

– One-way single: $1.50 (exact change is required)

– One-way single fare with MC Transit Pass or La Porte TransPorte Pass: $1.00 (exact change is required)

– 10-Ride pass: $12.50

– Children five and under ride for free

– Monthly Commuter pass: $30 (Based on the calendar month. The pass is non-transferable.)

Passengers may transfer for free between buses within the Transit Triangle route.

Several options are available to purchase a pass. To pay by credit card, call the Michigan City Controller’s

Office at 219-873-1404 and passes will be sent via the U.S. Postal Service or passes can be picked up at the Controller’s Office at Michigan City City Hall, 100 East Michigan Boulevard, the TransPorte Office, 102 L St., La Porte or at the PNC Bursar’s Office in Schwarz Hall Room 127. Non-credit card passes can be purchased in person at any one of these locations by cash or check.

“Interest and support from the community is very strong, and we expect that our ridership will go up with the temperature,” added Tom MacLennan, director of TransPorte.

The Transit Triangle buses run on weekdays on three routes: between La Porte and PNC, Michigan City and PNC and Michigan City and LaPorte. On each route, there will be three morning runs and three afternoon runs.

The full schedule and most current information are available on the Transit Triangle website, The website can also be accessed through the MC Transit website at and the La Porte TransPorte website at

PNC Students Enjoy Riding the Transit Triangle Bus

Transit bus

Transit Triangle Bus Service Begins Feb. 2 between Michigan City, La Porte and PNC

Purdue University North Central students are taking advantage of the new Transit Triangle bus service that provides convenient commuter transportation between LaPorte, Michigan City and PNC.

The buses started rolling on Feb. 3 and students who ride the bus are happy to have a handy option to get to and from campus for classes and activities.

Student Renee Scherer, a Business major from LaPorte, said that she rides the bus so that the family car can be available for other family members who may need it during the day. “I wanted to try it,” she said. “The bus itself is nice. The seats are comfortable so you can relax for the ride. The driver is very friendly. It’s great to be able to sit back and let someone else drive and contend with traffic.” She noted that she particularly appreciates the ride to campus during inclement weather. “There’s no stress,” she said. Her time on the bus is spent studying and enjoying a cup of coffee. “I have my hands free so my mind is clear to think about things other than driving. It’s a great option.”

Anthony Catchings, of Michigan City, turned to the Transit Triangle when his car broke down and he needed reliable transportation to and from PNC. “It was a good option it saved me from being late and provided my transportation during the period in when my car was not in any type of driving shape,” said Catchings, a Social Work major. “I like the bus service; the people are friendly and the drive is quick. I like how someone can just ride the bus to get to school from different towns. If someone doesn’t have a car or doesn’t want to drive, I would highly recommend they try the transit bus. If someone needs transportation or does not wish to spend a lot of money on gas they should consider riding the transit bus.”

Darlene Ramirez, a Nursing major from LaPorte, said that she rides the bus “because it is a dependable and affordable form of transportation. It gives me the opportunity to see fellow students who live in the area and meet other PNC students It is very convenient. I would recommend the transit bus to all students. It makes it possible for struggling students to be able to make it to school and further their education.”

Purdue North Central Chancellor Dr. James B. Dworkin noted that having the Transit Triangle transportation makes PNC and higher education more accessible to current and prospective students who do not have access to private transportation. “We anticipate that ridership will grow over time as students, faculty, staff and campus visitors become more familiar with the service and come to rely on it for their daily transportation,” said Dworkin.

Bus passes will be available for purchase starting March 1. For purchase information, a full transportation schedule and other current information, visit the Transit Triangle website, This website can also be accessed through the MC Transit website at and the La Porte TransPorte website at

Purdue North Central Sinai Forum Welcomes Back Levenfeld

The Purdue University North Central Sinai Forum welcomes Wendy Levenfeld, who returns to the Forum as executive director for the Forum’s 62nd season.

“We are thrilled that Wendy has agreed to serve as executive director,” said PNC Chancellor Dr. James B. Dworkin. “Wendy is a tremendously talented individual who has an unsurpassed knowledge and insight into the Forum. She has played a vital role in ensuring the Forum’s success through the years. I am confident we will have another successful year under Wendy’s leadership.”

Levenfeld has been affiliated with the Forum for more than 20 years and served 17 years as executive director. She explained her job duties simply, “As Executive Director, it is my job to do whatever is necessary to bring speakers of note to Northwest Indiana.”

During those past years, Levenfeld stepped in to do whatever tasks needed to be done. She was responsible for fund raising, writing grant proposals, negotiating contracts, selecting and overseeing the venue preparation, ticketing, scheduling the programs, dealing with speakers, agents and gatekeepers, writing or supervising all print materials, coordinating all book signings and dinners and receptions, emceeing the event, speaking wherever and whenever possible to service clubs and other groups about upcoming seasons and acting as chauffeur and tour guide, if necessary, once the speaker was in town.

The end result was a speakers series that included some of the most noted names in the country.

She is happy to step back in as executive director, “While unexpected, I am very much looking forward to once again bringing the very best speakers addressing topics that are important to us all right here to Northwest Indiana,” she said.

The Sinai Forum, originally known as the Sunday Evening Forum Series, was inspired by Michigan City residents Dr. Milton and Sylvia Bankoff, who envisioned bringing some of the top minds, opinion leaders and news makers to Michigan City to present important issues of the day in a town hall setting. The first season launched in 1954 and hasn’t missed a year since.

Forum speakers have included Nobel Prize recipients, former heads of state, Pulitzer Prize winners, scientists, nationally recognized media personalities and famous performing artists.

Levenfeld played in instrumental role in bringing the Forum under the stewardship of Purdue University North Central in 2006,

The speakers themselves have been amazed by the Forum. Political commentator James Carville a speaker during the 1999-2000 season, told the Forum audience, “I am humbled to have the opportunity to speak from the same stage as some of the most influential people of the past half century.”

Former New York Governor the late Mario Cuomo, a 1997 – 1998 speaker, regarded the Forum as “nothing less than remarkable.”

Judy Jacobi, a 38-year veteran subscriber and Sinai Forum committee member noted, “Cuomo was right about that on many counts. Regardless of the convenience that newer communication channels like the internet or TV afford us, the face-to-face Forum experiences give us unique and memorable relationships with some of the finest speakers on substantive issues and some great change-of-pace performers. The Forum will continue to be unforgettable.”

Jacobi described, “How else can we be moved, or entertained, by the over-the -top personalities like political pundits James Carville and Marlee Matlin; or experience a moving talk by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel who spoke of the evil of the Nazi regime and not just how it affected history, but how hatred infects the world today and in the future; or feel the warmth and frankness of ABC’s Good Morning America’s anchor Robin Roberts; or witness the piercing intellect of iconic commentator Charles Krauthammer or experience the pride we felt when multi-time Grammy jazz masters Jeff Hamilton, on drums, John Clayton on bass, and Michigan City’s own Dr. Peter Bankoff on a Steinway, entertained us with sizzling music to end our most recent 61st season.”

The 2015 – 2016 Forum season will open in September.



PNC Staff Member Named to Indiana TRIO Executive Board

Catalina Rodriguez, director of Purdue University North Central TRIO Student Support Services programs has been named secretary of the Indiana TRIO Executive Board.

The appointment as secretary comes in addition to her current position as chair of the Awards & Recognition Committee, which recognizes three professionals for their contributions to the TRIO community.

TRIO is a series of federally-funded college opportunity programs created to support students in earning a college degree. The original three programs were established in the 1960s, leading to the term “TRIO.” Today, there are six programs, of which PNC has two: Student Support Services, in place since 1984 and Educational Talent Search, in place since 1989. Rodriguez oversees Student Support Services.

As member of the Executive Board, Rodriguez feels that she can aid the PNC TRIO programs. “We will have access to quality professional development, have the ability to build stronger relationships with colleagues and we will learn innovative best practices in the state,” she explained.

Student Support Services was created to increase the number of disadvantaged, low-income, first generation college and students with a documented disability earning college degrees. At PNC, it motivates and provides 195 student participants with the resources to be successful, including one-on-one tutoring, proactive academic support, financial literacy, financial aid assistance, career and personal advising and opportunities for cultural and social activities.

Rodriguez noted that the PNC TRIO participants consistently exceed the program’s federally established goals for academic persistence, good academic standing, and graduation rates.

Indiana TRIO provides leadership and scholarship opportunities for TRIO students in Indiana, creates quality professional development, promotes advocacy efforts and engages TRIO alumni.

Indiana has 38 TRIO programs serving about 11,000 students and bring in nearly $11 million in federal funding.