Community service is natural for director

Ball State professor recognized for her work throughout Muncie.

Though Linda Keys was humbled to receive three awards for her community service efforts in the Muncie community recently, she was more humbled when she was able to find a new home for an 88-year-old woman.

"I don't do things to get an award," Keys said. "I just do things to help people. Doing keeps me going."

For her continuous work in the Muncie community, Keys, associate director of the office of Academic Research and Sponsored Programs, was recently recognized by the Muncie Black Expo, The Muncie Times and the City of Muncie. While she is proud of her accomplishments, Keys said they are awards for something she would have naturally done.

"You couldn't give me more than the satisfaction it takes when I help someone," she said. "I know I'm still alive when I wake up, and I have a project to do."

Muncie Times owner and publisher Bea Moten-Foster said Keys is not afraid to take on a project and see it through to the end.

"Linda has gone beyond the call of duty of what the university hired her to do," Foster said in a press release. "She is concerned about the community in which she lives."

A native of Chicago, Keys is the third of four children and said she was the "invisible child," very quiet and and did little to disturb the space of anyone. However, her problem-solving techniques seemed to be apparent even then.

"I had to do a lot to be noticed or identified," Keys said. "People gravitated to me because I could solve problems even as a child."

After receiving her Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Illinois, Keys came to Muncie in 1987. Over the years she has been the adviser to the Voices of Triumph choir, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the founder of African American Parent Celebration Weekend, which operates through the Black Student Association.

Aside from her duties at the Office of Academic Research, Keys is also the chairwoman of the Athletics Committee and adviser to two sororities. When she is not lending a helping hand on the campus, she is a non-stop supporter of her two sons, ages 13 and 17, both of which are athletes.

"You do what you have to do as a mother to support your children in whatever they do," Keys said. "When they are on the floor and when they are in anything, I am there."

Keys also said the relationship with the students at Ball State keeps her going. She is always willing to show support and give advice to the students, including attending athletic events to show support for the Ball State athletes.

"(I think) it makes college a little special when someone can support you (in the little things)," she said. "You need to feel in some ways that you are being supported. I hope that it means something to the students that I try to assist, and my interests are with them."

Her passion for helping others is what gave her the ambition to help the 88-year-old woman find a new place to live. After living in deplorable conditions and being denied assistance for 15 years, Keys was able to secure federal funds to purchase a new home for the woman.

"It gave me great satisfaction to be able to be that person to help her," Keys said. "I hate to see people in distress. People sometimes take my determination to make things right as just complete arrogance, but how can you be arrogant about getting something for someone else?"

Senior Alisha Dunn, a member of one of the sororities that Keys advises, said Keys is someone to look up to and model after.

"She is an exemplary role model," she said. "Anyone who comes into contact with her respects her. She is a person with a lot of great ideas on creative ways of helping out in the community. Sometimes, I am just amazed at how she balances all of her priorities."

In the near future, Keys is looking forward to doing more service for the community and being a supportive mother for her sons. She said she has 46 basketball games to attend in the next 4 months. When asked about hobbies and what she likes to do in her down time, Keys said she has no down time.

"I do two things," she said. "My complete life is trying to be the best mom I can and helping others."


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