Monica Morrissey was one of eight graduates in International School of Indiana’s (ISI) first graduating class in 2004, and she is now a shining example of what we hope our future students can achieve. While at ISI, Monica was involved in several extracurricular activities, including track and field, basketball, volleyball and crew, and she served as student government president, all while maintaining a great GPA.
Monica now works as a Registered Nurse at Riley Hospital for Children, taking the skills she learned at ISI and utilizing them in the real world. She also continues to be involved with ISI, as she serves as the co-chair for our signature fundraising event, the Travel Auction.
We are proud to feature Monica as our first “Alumni Spotlight” and share with you why she thinks ISI is so special.
1. With benefits like language immersion or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, what drew you most to ISI?
I loved the IB program. I always regarded it very highly and felt privileged to get to complete such a program. Being that we were the first class to graduate, we were all hopeful that we would do well, but unsure. I will never forget checking my IB scores with two other classmates. We were on vacation in a small town in Michigan. The only place we could get online was in town at the internet café, archaic, I know! When we saw we passed, we called Mr. Buhaly, the Head of High School, and he was very excited for us! It was really special.
Being bilingual has helped me immensely. As an RN at Riley I work with many families who speak only Spanish. Quickly after getting hired I contacted the language services department at IU Health and became a Spanish Interpreter. Not only do I get to serve and communicate with my own Spanish-speaking patients, but I also interpret for other nurses and doctors often. Having a child in the hospital can be very scary, overwhelming and emotional. I always think about how much scarier it must be for parents and patients who can’t easily communicate with those who are taking care of them. I have seen the look of relief and excitement when I introduce myself in Spanish to my patients so many times, and it never gets old. ISI gave me the gift of serving families in a time of great need, and for that I will always be grateful.
2. ISI has a curriculum that focuses on the arts and shaping their students’ outlook on international relations. In your experience as an ISI student, how do you think this unique approach to learning sets ISI apart from other schools?
I think this is a crucial part of ISI and how it prepares students for the world stage. Going from a graduating class of eight to an incoming freshman class at Purdue in the thousands, I felt incredibly well prepared. In my college experience I met people from countries around the world, with different religions and views than my own. Coming from ISI, these were the parts that I loved and embraced about others, eager to learn more about them. Because of ISI I feel I am drawn to others not for our similarities, but for our differences. ISI taught me how together we can create much more amazing and wonderful things when we recognize and appreciate the things that set us apart from one another! This is where love and growth truly begin!
3. Considering the impactful opportunities ISI presents to its students, like the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) project and the overall international experience, what were you able to gain from your ISI experience that has stuck with you throughout your life?
I gained a spirit for serving the community and being involved. I didn’t always love being part of a small school. Sometimes it felt stale to me. However, because of the nature of our school, I had very meaningful connections with many of my teachers.
One of my favorites was Mrs. Sinitsky. She saw something in me that I didn't and helped me see things in a way my teenage mind couldn’t. She taught me that I matter and I had the ability to create change, big or small. She taught me that if I wanted to see things happen, I might have to do it myself. She saw that I was shutting down and instead encouraged me to dive in. She instilled in so many of us this empowerment and realization that being a citizen of the world means that you get to help shape it.
I carried this into my college years and beyond. I attended both Purdue and Indiana Universities for my bachelors. And because I had been so involved at ISI, I immediately jumped into four clubs my first semester freshman year. This helped the leap from a small to huge school feel a lot less scary and helped me to connect with others on a level that was very meaningful to me.
4. Can you tell us about the upcoming Travel Auction you'll be co-chairing? What can people expect at the event and why is it so important to ISI?
I am so excited about this year’s Travel Auction! I am co-chairing with ISI parent, Carla Wimmersberger. This is fun because I get to see current ISI from a parent’s perspective. She has been very involved in the Travel Auction for years, so she is teaching me as we go and has great ideas that we know the community will love.
The Travel Auction is our school’s signature fundraiser, giving us the opportunity to make a world of difference for our students and the future of ISI. This is the 25th year of the school and we are reflecting that in our theme of Silver Jubilee. We are looking forward to honoring the past of our unique school while celebrating our future!
This year’s committee is hard at work ensuring that we have the most fun and successful Travel Auction yet. There will be many familiar aspects that our generous communities of families, alumni and donors have enjoyed over the years. Even better, we are thrilled for you to experience the new excitement that our committee is creating. We can’t wait to celebrate the joy of ISI with you on Saturday, March 9. Get your tickets and invest in the future of our students here!
5. What advice would you give to parents considering ISI for their children?
If you want to give your kids the world, give them ISI. As a student, alum, professional, member of my community and now parent to my own small children, I am so grateful for my life at ISI. It would be hard to think about a part of my life that it didn’t affect. It shaped so much of who I am today.