“It’s very fulfilling and meaningful for me, and I feel like the disability awareness month is very important due to the fact that we can bring awareness to disabilities and also allowing people to see us as regular people,” Jones said. “Although we have a disability, we still want to do regular things and live our lives like regular people.”   

Jones, who became paralyzed at 16, felt alone when she was in high school. As a Nina Scholar alumnus, Jones wishes that her younger self would have known that the future held confidence and a strong group of people who would understand and support her.

Jones described her biggest barrier as a lack of self-belief and attributed Johnson’s encouragement for her to pursue a full time courseload as the most influential factor that helped her reach graduation.  

“And I’m like ‘no I don’t think I can do that, no, I’m okay’ and he was like, ‘I think you can do full time,’” Jones said.

Griffin commended the program for also actively pushing its students to become a part of a community that aids in developing self-awareness skills.  

“Really a lot of the programs that Nina exposed me to was just more culture, understanding, and reflecting on people’s differences—what makes them have stronger abilities and some areas where I was weaker and really driving that community,” Griffin said.  

Regarding student outcomes in the program, Griffin emphasized how the program inspires students to develop a more profound self-view of themselves.  

“But really what it ultimately does, being involved in the program, it helps you take yourself out of that mental box—make sure you’re not confining yourself to what you think you are,” Griffin said.

Applications for the Nina Scholars program can be accessed through the IU Scholarships portal on One.IU.

For more information, contact the Division of Undergraduate Education Office of Communications at duecomm@iupui.edu.