University of Southern Indiana

Student Organizations


"STudents and ELderly Linking Around Relationships" strives to develop positive relationships among students and elders within the community. The group focuses on changing negative stigmas associated with elders and students alike and replacing them with positive views of both. Through community based activities the group creates a positive atmosphere and educates students of all majors on the needs of the elderly within the community along with informing them about the many opportunities for careers working with elders.

The STELLAR student organization was presented with the "Making a Difference Award” during the USI Student Organization Celebration on April 16, 2019. The USI Office of Student Development Programs gives awards annually to recognize campus organizations for outstanding efforts during the academic year.

The “Making A Difference Award” is presented to a student organization that demonstrates through action the importance of serving the campus, community, country, and the world. 

Caption: STELLAR leaders during the 2018-19 academic year were Lauren May (Kinesiology student – Pott College), Ally Lopp (Health Services student - CNHP), Megan Thomas (MSW student – Liberal Arts), and Allysen Brown (Health Services student - CNHP).

STELLAR wins awardsRecipient of Two Awards in 2017 from USI Student Development Programs

At the USI Student Development Programs' 2017 Leadership Awards April 12, the USI STELLAR student organization received two top awards: the Community Outreach Award, and also President of the Year, presented to Rebecca Lucas, a Health Services Long Term Care Administration major and Master of Health Administration 4+1 student.

Dr. Kathy Elpers, associate professor of Social Work, first started connecting her students with Seton Residence and other facilities more than 16 years ago. This outreach led to the development of the STELLAR, which stands for "STudents and ELderly Linking Around Relationships.” Dr. Elpers continues to serve as co-faculty advisor for the group, along with Dr. Katie Ehlman, associate professor in Gerontology.

Stellar students holding signThis interdisciplinary group of students performs service work in local long-term care settings over the course of the academic year. The students connect with approximately four long-term care settings each year and visit each setting once a month in small groups.

Sigma Phi Omega

Sigma Phi Omega (SPO), the national academic honor and professional society in gerontology, was established in 1980 to recognize excellence of those who study gerontology and aging and the outstanding service of professionals who work with or on behalf of older persons. The formation of a society provides a much needed link between educators, practitioners, and administrators in various settings where older persons are served.

VALUE OF Sigma Phi Omega for students:

  • Identifies and associates a person with excellence in the field of aging.
  • Identifies leadership opportunities on the local and national level.
  • Potential recognition through awards of academic excellence, civic engagement and professional works.
  • Provides a leading edge for internships and jobs
  • Networking opportunities
  • Receive Quarterly newsletter

Student and Professional membership criteria:
Student membership:

  • Majoring, minoring, or interest in gerontology/aging studies or  related field (such as social work, nursing, occupational therapy, biology, etc)
  • Has completed at least one semester of schooling
  • Undergraduates: GPA – 3.3 on a 4.0 scale
  • Graduates: 3.5 on a 4.0 scale 

Professional membership:

  • Provide degree and dates awarded as well as your employer and job title.
  • Signature of USI Sigma Phi Omega faculty advisor

Learn about the SPO Student Scholars Forum on Aging

Contact Dr. Katie Ehlman


Send Email to