By: Akash Khanna, BS’19, and Sunnih Flores, BS’19
Growing up, we often take things for granted. Sometimes we don’t get the opportunity to understand the issues others might be going through or how we can make a difference. For us, that opportunity came in the form of Jagathon: IUPUI’s Dance Marathon.
Realizing the struggle kids in our local community have when just trying to have a normal and healthy childhood struck a chord with us. Seeing the impact Jagathon has on patients of Riley Children’s Hospital through pediatric research meant seeing the impact on the friends and families of those same patients. A lot of the times, those friends and family members are our peers and classmates.
This past year, Jagathon’s year-long campaign was Power of Purpose.
We wanted to know why our committee, participants, and supporters have chosen to join this movement, and why they rise up for the kids. This purpose brought us back to why we got involved in Jagathon and how we’ve been involved over the years.
Since being involved, we’ve both taken on a number of roles and responsibilities within the organization. In fact, a number of Kelley students at IUPUI served on our executive board.
Sunnih Flores, BS’19, management and human resources management major: I was a dancer my freshman year, and since then I’ve been a part of the logistics and entertainment committee making sure things run smoothly in the background throughout the year and on the day of the event.
Akash Khanna, BS’19, marketing major: I started in Jagathon my freshman year as a committee member, then moved up to become a Director of Marketing for the next two years. This past year, I served as the Vice President of External Relations where I worked closely with the Directors of Campus Outreach, Community Engagement, High School Dance Marathons, Marketing, and Public Relations.
Jagathon was 15 hours long this year, and through that time, we still found moments to really reflect on the impact each donation can make and to remember why we do what we do.
A moment that speaks to us every year is the candlelight ceremony during the event. It is a very powerful and moving portion of the night where we all have a moment of silence, remembering the kids who did not survive their fight at Riley. We remember why we need to increase the number of miracles we make every year. Candles are lit, and we are surrounded by darkness, so people have the opportunity to reflect on the reason for the gathering.
At the end of the day, Jagathon is an extracurricular activity meant to also enrich our educational experience. Here’s how our experience in Jagathon has made us even better Kelley students:
Sunnih: I’ve always known I’ve wanted to major in business and make a difference for the better. Jagathon has helped me work on my past weaknesses — such as process-minded thinking or keeping a hectic schedule. Being a part of Jagathon created accountability for me, because we were all trying to achieve the same goal for a great cause. In the future, I plan on using business principles to further philanthropic efforts in the Indianapolis area and Jagathon has been a great driver of that dream.
Akash: I didn’t think this organization would make such a big impact on me, but it was because of this organization, I became a Kelley student. I started off as a biology student my freshman year but switched my focus to marketing in the middle of my sophomore year because I loved what I was doing for Jagathon. I was able to learn in class and apply it to the real world.
Kelley helped me fix my weaknesses as a leader, which helped me to move up to the executive level on the committee. This will help me in future years, as well, because I had a chance to work with a group of people every year.
I had to lead a group of people by communicating with them, delegating tasks, building a rapport, and making sure they were having a good experience. I learned about Salesforce from my classes, so I had a chance to develop content through Salesforce for digital marketing automation emails and analyze analytics when the emails were sent.
This experience helped me connect with many individuals, learn about the IUPUI community, gave me the ability to apply lessons from class to the real world, and helped me find my passion in business.
I could not be more thankful for the Kelley School of Business, IUPUI, and Jagathon. It has truly impacted my life in a positive way.