2017 Staff Person of the Year

The recipient of the Staff Person of the Year award is chosen based on their cultivation of active citizenship and mentorship of student leadership through alternative break programs on campus.

Niki Messmore at Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis

Staff Person: Niki Messmore | Civic Engagement Coordinator, Campus Center & Student Experiences 

Nominator: Jessica Davis | Graduate Assistant in Campus Center & Student Experiences

“Niki has been able to make one of the deepest and most meaningful experiences for me as a person and as a professional. She cares about the growth and betterment of the AB program, but also the students - ensuring that they have the best experience to continue being active citizens in their community. Her tenacious commitment to serve and support students is unique and inspiring.”  

In her work with IUPUI’s Alternative Breaks Program, Niki has worked tirelessly to build a high quality program centered around justice and active citizenship.

Facilitated a vast program-wide expansion to increase opportunities for participation on trips and student leadership.

“Due to her focus on the strategic mission of advocating for the program outside of Campus Center & Student Experiences, the AB program at IUPUI witnessed rapid growth over the last three years. When Niki arrived, the program had 6 trip leaders and 2 co-coordinators for a total of 5 trips - which had a difficult time filling the 60 participant spots. Now under her leadership the past 3 years, the program will be going into the 2017-18 academic year with 8 trip leaders, 4 co-coordinators, and 10 trips with a total of 112 participant spots.” 

In her time as a staff advisor, Niki helped facilitate the following results in program growth:

  • 100% increase in the size of fall alternative break participants
  • 56% increase in applicants for the alternative fall break trip, in one year
  • 80% increase in applicants for alternative spring break trips, in one year

Committed to program sustainability, Niki forged strong, long-term partnerships with local community partners and other offices on campus.

  • Identified key stakeholders on campus - including staff within the McKinney School of Law, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Sustainability Office, and the LGBTQ+ Center.
  • Collaborated with the LGBTQ+ Center to recruit students, collaborate on workshops and other events, and provide financial assistance for the $100 ASB fee.  
  • Led a workshop series open to faculty, staff, and graduate assistants interested in deepening their involvement in service-learning with a focus on alternative breaks and community engagement.  
  • Involved community partners in Indianapolis to offer their knowledge and leadership to both reorientation events and student leadership training.  

Increased program funding to make trips more financially accessible to students at IUPUI.

  • Led her team in securing over $8,000 in grant funding to provide equitable access and increased support for students throughout the program.
  • Advocated for increased scholarships for students who were ineligible through traditional means - expanding definitions of need and articulating the significant impact alternative breaks can have on individuals who are able to participate.

Supported, above all else, strong student leadership:

  • Envisioned and facilitated an alternative break scholar retreat to ground participants in foundations of critical service learning and critical race theory while experiencing a mini-alternative break in the Indianapolis community.
  • Developed relationships with student leaders where they were able to creatively approach their work autonomously while supporting them in problem solving through 1:1 meetings and consistently showing a genuine interest and investment in their growth.

“If there were ever a professional staff who defined what it means to activate citizenship and serve as a mentor to dozens of students, it would be Niki Messmore. For the past three years, Niki has worked tirelessly with countless students and community agencies to craft an alternative break program that is just, innovative and inspiring.”  - Brian Starkel, Assistant Director for Leadership Development and Civic Engagement


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