MORGAN SNYDER, ‘07
One might peg me as someone with a bit of bias towards Indy. After all, as Director of Public Relations for Visit Indy, I’m paid to pitch to journalists what it is that makes Indy so special and worthy of ink in Forbes or AFAR Magazine.
I love my job. But, I love my job because I love the product I get to promote. One doesn’t come without the other.
I was closing in on graduation from Butler in 2007 and wanted one more internship to round-out my skillset. I landed a gig with the city’s tourism office and it was in the span of those four internship months where I was forced to learn a new product: Indianapolis. I learned that there’s more than an iconic motor speedway and 500-mile race. There’s a glimmering canal walk, 250 acres of urban greenspace with seven museums and a top ten zoo. I learned that less than a mile from Butler’s campus there’s the original, iconic LOVE sculpture and one of the most progressive art museums in the country. The world’s largest children’s museum. A restaurant that’s pegged for having the world’s spiciest dish and another restaurant that is named on Condé Nast Traveler’s World’s Best Restaurants list. A city that checks the boxes on just about any sporting event one can imagine. Hip and funky neighborhoods. And so much more.
After that internship, I was sold on the city that was going to be my home. The city where I would make my core group of friends, find my husband, and raise our family together.
What I didn’t know or even really care that much about as a college student was that Indy was super accessible and affordable. Friends can flee to bigger cities after college – some of mine did – but ask them how much they paid for that tiny studio apartment or what their meal cost even at the most casual of restaurants. Indy is continuously ranked as one of the country’s most affordable cities. Even better, Indy is a city that is led by listeners, believers, and visionaries. Did you know this city built a football stadium when we didn’t even have a football team? And look where we are now. If you have an idea, you can actually make it happen here. The guy that built an 8-mile, $63 million bike trail in the heart of downtown wrote his idea on a napkin and without any taxpayers’ dollars, he made it happen. Project for Public Spaces called his trail, “the biggest and boldest step by any American city.”
Fortunately for us, Indy loves their Butler Bulldogs. We’re a community that has a unique bond in the principles we learned through The Butler Way. And I am continuously grateful that our city operates under a similar mantra.
NATALIE VAN DONGEN, ’18
I love Indianapolis because it rejects expectation. Upon seeing our humble skyline, one may believe that Indianapolis is nothing more than a run-of-the-mill, midwestern, industrial city – this assumption would be incorrect. Indianapolis is defined by its residents, and therefore cannot be adequately defined by any given industry, belief system, socioeconomic status, or even basketball team. We are artists, agriculturalists, environmentalists, athletes, activists, techies, entrepreneurs, doctors, spiritual leaders, and civil servants. We are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, and community members. We are hard workers, determined to do better and grow faster than any expectation would allow. We are our own city, made for each other, by each other.
Indianapolis is by no means a perfect city. In recent years, we have faced the same unrest many of our country’s cities have had to overcome. The issues we are facing currently will not subside in a day’s time. These challenges, be it an aging infrastructure or increased political tension, will require time, patience, and diligence. However, we do not claim to be perfect, nor do we claim to be complete. Indianapolis is a constant work in progress, wherein we must not only identify the adversity laid at our feet, but learn how to overcome as a community. We do not make excuses, we do not point fingers, we do not fall victim to hatred, and above all else, we watch out for all members of our community.
I love Indianapolis because it is limitless. In years past, Indianapolis has welcomed the victims of natural disasters, opened our hearts to refugees, and become a new home to disenfranchised populations. All who have come to Indianapolis, no matter if it was out of newfound opportunity or dire circumstance, have become an integral part of our city’s fabric. An engravement in the stone of the Old City Hall building in downtown Indianapolis reads, “I am a citizen of no mean city” – that is Indianapolis. A city proud of its people, the backgrounds of those people, and the accomplishments of those people.
JEFFREY STANICH III, ‘16
Indianapolis will sneak up on you – like how, during a random visit with a friend, it turned out to be a place I might actually like to call home.
Years ago, my high school buddy Elliot and I were down from Wisconsin for the day looking for some warmer golfing weather that we never found, so we had time to kill in a place we knew nothing about. Until he said: “Want to go check out that one small school that just made it to the Final Four?” So we did.
As reader has probably already picked up on, the institution in question was Butler University, and it turned out to be so much more than one small school. After leaving with more reasons to return than any other university visit had offered, Butler was choice number one when it came time to choose. And the following four years surpassed every expectation that I had built up in my head since first walking up the steps of Robertson Hall.
Beyond the ways that Butler integrated me into the surrounding city – such as statehouse visits with journalism courses, or learning that weekends begin on Thursday nights in Broad Ripple – it was on my peers and I to get to know Indianapolis beyond the bubble.
And for as much as we tried to get to know places, it wasn’t until the June following my ’16 commencement that I finally stumbled upon the downtown canal walk, and months more until I got to witness the leaves turn every September in Holliday and Garfield parks. Sure, nice places to spend some time are found in every city – but that autumn was when I learned how Butler University and Indianapolis are part of an entire community that has your back.
I got my first real job out of college – writing speeches for Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett – because his chief of staff somehow found my name on Butler’s website. This job (beyond a consistent paycheck) offered a chance to see the true dynamic identity of Indianapolis, that major-metropolis-with-small-town-charm people often speak to.
On any given weekend, hundreds of thousands of visitors will flood the town late into the night for world-class events like the Indy 500 and GenCon, and then by Monday you’re bumping into old and new friendly faces to catch up with during your morning routine.
You can meet residents whose families have lived in a neighborhood for generations, and then spend time with whole communities of Burmese immigrants who are just starting their lives in America through Exodus Refugee Immigration.
There are all the jobs you could want in the 80,000-strong hospitality industry that is to credit for Indianapolis’ ranking as the number one convention city in the United States, or you can pursue just as many careers in one of the many tech companies like Salesforce and Infosys that contribute to our reputation as the Tech Capital of the Midwest. (We’re not letting Silicon Prairie catch on, sorry.)
So Indianapolis will sneak up on you – for me, it transformed from a day-trip destination, to a place where I spent four years learning and living, to the place where I still intend on growing. My little cousin is starting at Butler in August, and she’s echoing that same sentiment I did six years ago: “this is a whole lot better than I expected.”
Yeah, it is, I tell her. And you’re only at the beginning.