The Giden Connection

"I had to put my education on hold after I was married and started my family, but the great thing about IU South Bend is it is always there whenever you reach a point in life where you can go back to school," said alumnus Dennis Giden Sr., BS'90, MS'94.

After earning his bachelor's degree in elementary education, the father of eight taught fourth and sixth graders at Swanson Primary Center for five years. Meanwhile, he earned his master''s degree in elementary education and a certificate in administration, and went on to serve as an assistant principal and principal in Elkhart Community Schools and later, as a principal in South Bend Community Schools. "As a result of my education at IU South Bend, I was able to work in a profession that provided the financial resources to raise a large family," Giden commented. "It also led me to a profession I loved."

As a father, Giden set the same high expectations for his children as he set for himself. "They knew that it was expected that they finish high school," said Giden. "They saw what I did, and I encouraged them to follow my example and go to college, too."

Giden shared memories of taking his son to class in Elkhart so he could spend more time with him, and sitting his children in a circle around his feet to practice lessons he learned in his education methods classes. "They were seeing their dad in a different light," explained Giden. "They saw me pursuing my college education."

I was thirty-six when my dream came true, and I graduated from IU South Bend.

- Dennis Giden Sr., BS’90, MS’94


Dennis Giden Sr.

Giden is retired as a principal, but he continues to lead the church he pastors, and he assists Seianna with "A is for Apple Pie," her food-based interactive supplemental education program for grade school children. Seianna is also the compliance officer at DePaul Academy. "IU South Bend was a very supportive environment for me," she said. "My professors encouraged me to know the content and be creative. I still talk with many of them today."

In 2016, Seianna was honored with the IU Schurz Library Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award, the St. Mary's College THRIVE Champion of Community Engagement Award, and she was named to the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce 2016 Michiana Forty under 40 list for her efforts to support early childhood education in the community.

The father of eight is proud of his family's accomplishments and grateful for the people and programs at IU South Bend that fostered their academic and artistic achievements. "We are all placed here for a purpose," he explained. "IU South Bend was a place where my children and I were able to cultivate our talents, so we could make an impact."