University News – May 15

Local native honored for professionalism

Columbus native Katie Bridgeman, a doctoral student in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at IUPUI, received the Dr. Charles R. Bantz Award for Excellence at the Elite 50 dinner.

The award, which she received April 19, is presented by the IUPUI Graduate and Professional Student Government to the campus’ top graduate or professional student.

The Elite 50 was created by IUPUI Graduate and Professional Student Government to recognize outstanding graduate and professional students for their contributions to the campus and community outside of the classroom. Award recipients represent the top one-half of one percent of the graduate and professional student body at IUPUI.

Bridgeman expects to graduate in this month with her doctorate in physical therapy. She then will travel to Haiti for a month-long internship with Imagine Missions Orphanage. There, she will:

Help prepare for Camp Imagine, including training the orphanage’s older children to serve as counselors at the summer camp that will host more than 100 children

Assist with career development, especially for those interested in working in health care

Implement enrichment activities such as a reading mentor program and dance classes

After returning to the United States and taking the physical therapy board exam, Bridgeman plans to work with IU Health’s inpatient acute team at University or Methodist hospital in August. She also hopes to continue as a member of the research team on several projects she began as a student, pursue teaching opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and develop physical therapy-based mission trips for other students.

“The world of therapy is very dynamic and diverse, so I look forward to integrating my love of service, teaching, learning and diverse patient groups to increase awareness and excellence in care for many different people, particularly the underserved, throughout my career,” Bridgeman said.

As part of the award, Bridgeman will receive a $500 scholarship.

In Columbus, Bridgeman was active for several years as a performer with Dancers Studio Inc. locally. Last summer, she worked with others to plan a fundraiser for the aforementioned Imagine orphanage at the local studio.

East graduate inducted into honor society

Jacob Villiger, a graduate of Columbus East High School, recently was inducted into the Zeta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Purdue University.

Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest honor society in the nation. In order to be selected for membership, students must meet high academic standards in the liberal arts and sciences.

Villiger is the son of Jennifer and Dan Villiger of Columbus.

Student selected for teaching program

Ramya Vijayagopal, a student at Ithaca College who is originally from Columbus, was recently selected for the Teach for America Program.

Vijayagopal will teach middle school science in Philadelphia.

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5633.