Giving Back to the Next Generation

Alumni John and Wendy Kindig are transforming the lives of science students at IU

John and Wendy Kindig got a lot out of their time at Indiana University: undergraduate degrees in biological sciences and chemistry, respectively; medical degrees; and a long-lived marriage. And after two successful careers in medicine (cardiology and nephrology, respectively), they felt it was time to give a little something back.

Or a lot of something, actually.

The couple has funded the John R. and Wendy L. Kindig Scholarship for undergraduate studies in the sciences, and they have committed to an additional $8 million bequest, which will fund a multitude of future scholarships and graduate fellowships in the sciences.

“We want to give back because we were afforded opportunities when we were younger,” says John (B.S. ’72). “Tuition now is a lot bigger deal than it was when we went to school. [Whenever we meet with students], the cost of an education is something that they all mention. Every single one of them.”

In recalling his own education, John is certainly familiar with the struggle to make ends meet — and he’s equally as familiar with just how impactful scholarship funding can be. As a medical student, he ran out of money in his last two semesters, but the university found the funds to help him finish.

“It was a lifesaver,” he says.

Wendy and John Kindig meet with a group of their namesake Kindig Scholars.

Wendy, likewise, received some help in affording her education. Her parents helped to pay for both her undergraduate degree and her medical degree, and at the time Wendy had every intention of paying them back in kind. Her parents, however, had a different idea.

“When I got out and was ready to pay them back, they said ‘No, don’t give it back to us. In the future, just give it back to someone else who can benefit,’” says Wendy (B.A. ’73). “So, it’s just something I’ve always felt is part of what we needed to do.”

The impact of the Kindigs’ scholarship fund is already being felt by students in the sciences, helping to ease the burden of tuition, fund summer research opportunities, and more.

Logan Hille is a senior in biochemistry who plans to go on to graduate school and pursue a Ph.D. in biological sciences. Outside of his studies, he’s worked in two separate labs at IU — first in Professor Richard DiMarchi’s lab in Chemistry, and currently in Professor Gabriel Zentner’s lab in Biology — and additionally serves on the university’s Board of Aeons.

Suffice it to say, Hille’s schedule doesn’t leave him with much free time, and in that respect his Kindig Scholarship has been a game-changer.

“This award will go a long way in ensuring I can continue to pursue a career in science to the best of my ability,” Hille says. “If I had to work extensive hours at a job to try and cover my living expenses, I would not be able to dedicate so much time towards these high-impact experiences that have helped me excel.”

“Tuition now is a lot bigger deal than it was when we went to school.”
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Winston Winkler echoes a similar sentiment. A double-major in microbiology and neuroscience, Winkler also conducts independent research in Professor Daniel Kearn’s lab in Biology.

“I have always had a deep interest in science and have never really considered anything except scientific research or medicine for a career,” Winkler says. “Because of the scholarship, I do not have to split my time with a part-time job and can focus on my studies, research, and maybe even having free time.”

By helping outstanding students like these, John and Wendy Kindig are helping some of the university’s best and brightest students excel in their scientific studies, says Greg Demas, chair of the Department of Biology.

“As experienced medical practitioners with lifelong dedication to the biomedical enterprise, Wendy and John truly appreciate the importance of developing the next generation of scientists and physicians,” Demas says. “Students who receive these scholarships will go on to establish their own decorated careers in the life sciences, contributing to new biomedical discoveries and breakthroughs in healthcare well after graduating from IU.”

Jennifer Garrett

Jennifer Garrett is a freelance writer and editor living in the Boston area. With more than 15 years of experience, her work has covered a wide range of subjects, from topics in higher education to the real estate and mortgage industries. Connect with her on LinkedIn or reach her at jgarrett@gmail.com.