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How 2015 Changed Hoosiers' Lives

The past year has been a busy one in Indiana. From the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, to ongoing issues with the ISTEP+, Hoosiers say many big news stories had a direct impact on their lives.

As 2015 comes to a close, we take a look back at how the events of the past year have changed some of the people living in Indiana.

Anna Maidi, Women’s Committee President at the Islamic Center of Bloomington

"I don’t think we can talk about 2015 without talking about the attack that happened to one of our own sisters here in town. And immediately following that event, where one of our own community members was attacked, immediately following that was the Paris bombing and the attack in San Bernardino. And then the rhetoric really started to pick up politically.

I think we’re really hoping next year to really start reaching out to the community more than we’re already doing and kind of strengthening our ties with the inter-faith community and with IU and the city.”

Kevin Polly, Former Addict Who Was Diagnosed With HIV

“The addiction controls your life. That’s all your life is centered around. I was to the point that’s all I cared about. From the time I was awake to the time I went to bed, I was either using or trying to find something to use. I got a letter in the mail and I believe it was February saying it come from the Clark County Health Department stating that someone had tested positive for a communicable disease and turned my name in. I called that day and they wanted me to come in that day. I went down the next day. They gave me a mouth swab, I tested positive for HIV. That was a 95 percent. Then they drew blood next and that was 99.9 percent that I had HIV. It was devastating. At the time I thought my life was over.

I’m in a halfway house here in Jeffersonville. It varies anywhere from 35 to 45 men. The last thing I did that morning before I went – I think I was supposed to be there at nine o’clock – the very last thing I did before I left my house one last time was shot up an Opana. And, that’s been the last time. April the 17th. A year from now I hope to have my own place here in Jeffersonville. There is just so much more to offer here.”

Malea Crosby, Sexual Assault Survivor

"As I reflect back on my life in 2015 I see how much my life changed. I have grown and healed in unimaginable ways. In April I started The Forces and Voices Project, an organization for survivors of sexual assault. In September my organization premiered our PSA Breaking Our Silence.  In October I was awarded the Voices for Victims Award by Attorney General Greg Zoeller. I was also nominated for the 2015 Hamilton Award for my involvement in the community.

Although all of these accomplishments are personal to a degree, the impact they have had on others has been life changing. I have had the opportunity to watch others find their voices and heal which has been my ultimate goal."

Jacob Pactor, Speedway High School Teacher

"The latest ISTEP change is just another change that impacts teachers -- not students. I teach 9th grade English, so the ISTEP10 is still a year off for my students. They have no idea. I didn't do my job differently because, at the end of the day, my job is to help students become more confident in their abilities at critical thinking and critical reading. That ISTEP is going to finally assess those is a good thing, but indifferent to my teaching. I will say that it has made being a teacher more stressful and less enjoyable. An aurora of uncertainty and unease permeates schools. That uncertainty is the biggest takeaway. I think if we were told the test will not change for a decade, teachers would get behind the change. But with change almost certainty, there's this idea of just pushing this boulder up the hill knowing that it's futile to invest so much energy when it will change with the political winds. Maybe that's the biggest change -- the transformation of colleague's energy from doing everything possible to help students to feeling personally attacked and defensive as a professional. "

Heather Thiessen, Married Wife In 2015

"2015 did change our lives, since after 35 years, Devi and I were able to get married- in our own state, in my own church, by our own ministers. We never imagined that happening 35 years ago. I didn’t think it would make that much difference in daily life, really, after 35 years of being together, but it did in a subtle way. Also, when I fill out forms, I have to check the “married? Box, so I notice that. But to be honest, 2015 has also been a big change because we have started visiting colleges with our daughter who’s a junior in high school, and that’s a change that feels momentous, even though it is less historic."

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