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The University’s First Lady

Posted on 11.06.2013

An old adage of success proclaims that there is usually a great woman behind a successful man. Wilmara Manuel, the first lady of the University of Indianapolis, is an accomplished woman in her own right.
Manuel was born in Haiti and moved to the United States at the age of eight. She grew up in New York and later moved to Washington, D.C. While working and earning a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism at New York University, she met her lifelong companion, Robert Manuel. She also has a Master’s degree in higher education administration from NYU.

The Manuels have moved around quite a bit during their marriage, following President Manuel’s career. Prior to moving to Indiana, Manuel said that her husband spent six years working in the Office of Academic Affairs at NYU. Later, she worked as the dean of student affairs at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. After that, the couple stayed in Washington, D.C., while President Manuel worked at Georgetown University for six years. The Manuels moved to Indiana last year.
Currently, Manuel is primarily occupied with taking care of her three daughters and being a stay-at-home mom. She said that she hopes that her daughters will be well-rounded and have a good perspective on international affairs.
“I take them to the immersion program at the International School of Indiana to learn French, since French is my mother tongue,” Manuel said. “I hope they can be bilingual, or even trilingual in the future, because it’s very important for them to know what is going on around the world.”

Manuel also has run an event planning business called Madly Stylish for three years. The slogan for the company is, “Inspired by you, designed by us.” Madly Stylish specializes in multi-cultural and inter-faith events. With her business, taking care of her three children and first lady duties, she does not get a lot of free time.

She said even though it is hard to find leisure time, she works out in a gym three times every week and has joined a book club.
The first lady has always been supportive of her husband’s activities despite her little free time. She said students are amazing, and she is always impressed by the students at UIndy. She said that she feels lucky to have them and feels embraced by the community. Several UIndy students have babysat for the Manuel children, so students have also embraced the Manuel family beyond the president, she said.
“I like being the first lady, and I like being with students, so that I can help them whenever they need,” Manuel said. “That the faculty and the staff of UIndy help us [the Manuels] all the time makes me feel at home.”

Not only does she participate in events with President Manuel at UIndy from time to time, but she also finds pleasure in them. Manuel said she enjoys being a mother, a wife and friend of President Manuel without a complaint of putting her dreams on hold.

“I love what I’m doing now. Playing [the] roles of a good mother, wife, and friend is my dream presently. I am fond of taking care of my three little children. As the kids get older, I can start my next chapter of life to pursue my next dream.”


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