She had it all planned—her schedule, dorm, roommate. She was certain she was going to Purdue. I mean she grew up in Lafayette, Indiana—home of the Boilermakers.  

But, you know what they say about best-laid plans. 

Marielle Slagel Keller ’14 decided to take a campus tour at Butler a week before her final decision was due. Slagel Keller confided, “I had never seen anything like Butler. I knew it was where I needed to be.”  

While the campus tour may look a bit different now with all of the physical changes taking place, Keller said she thinks “Butler has been smart about the changes so that it doesn’t impact the overall community Butler inspires.” 

Keller did admit it was hard to watch Schwitzer get torn down. Understandable given the impact her first-year roommate had on her life—Keller says she taught her about the unique challenges minorities face. A lesson that served her well while getting her degree in Elementary Education, and now as a Kindergarten and First Grade Teacher at the IPS/Butler University Lab School in Indianapolis. 

Keller says something that defines her teaching is the project work she does with her students. From the creation of an insect hotel at the school for insects that are losing their habitats in the city to this year’s “Peace Project” that, among other things, included making wind chimes (renamed “kindness travelers”) that students placed randomly around the city. 

Her favorite student project, however, is a quilt of the city with silhouettes of the students flying over it. Keller shared, “[The students] painted and sewed it themselves … and wrote their hopes and dreams for the city on it.” 

Working at the IPS/Butler Lab School, Keller remains tied to Butler in a way many alumni are not. As she put it, “I’m lucky to be at the Lab School where I get to see my professors on a regular basis.” 

A professor who has had a particular impact on Keller is Cathy Hartman. They even represented the United States together at a global conference in China—modeling teaching in front of hundreds of people. While Keller served as a Vice President of the Student Government Association, she says she gained perspective at Butler and met her husband, Mike Keller ’14.  

It’s clear that the relationships built at Butler matter. And it’s one thing Keller hopes will never change at Butler—students becoming family. 

“I would walk to class and say hello to 20 people on the way. I hope Butler doesn’t lose that.”