The Herald-Times

New Ivy Tech grads 'a very excited group'

Degree a route to a new career for many of college’s nearly 550 graduates

By Chris Fyall
331-4307 |

May 14, 2011

Almost 550 brand-new Ivy Tech graduates and their families celebrated Friday with pomp and circumstance, with regal black gowns and customized caps, and with a healthy dose of hooting, air horns and hollering.

It was, as Chancellor John Whikehart said, “a very excited group.”

It was also a big one: Almost 100 more students graduated in this year’s class than had graduated in last year’s, school officials said. The students earned a mix of associate degrees and technical certificates.

“This is the work force we have developed,” Whikehart said at the ceremony, which was held at the Indiana University Auditorium. “These are the lives we have changed.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Ivy Tech graduation

RELATED: See story about new Ivy Tech grad Michael Ely, pictured above

Many students graduated with degrees in popular programs such as nursing, business administration, office administration and general studies.

But there were also graduates from smaller programs including radiation therapy, paramedic science and biotechnology. Two people earned toolmaker apprecenticeship degrees, and one student earned a degree as a library technical assistant.

Thirteen students graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA, and a total of 187 graduated with honors.

There were graduates of all sorts.

Nearly 20 of the students were veterans of the U.S. military, and 15 students had received tuition assistance after being laid off from local manufacturing facilities.

Stories like those are important, said Thomas Snyder, who is president of the Ivy Tech system. Indiana is working hard to try and catch up to the rest of the world by having people earn college degrees, he said.

This year’s graduates must encourage others to come to school, too, Snyder said. “You are going to have to tell your story. Your personal story is very important.”

Snyder himself talked about four different graduates, including two sisters — Jennifer Steele and Andrea Sinn — who each raised families before deciding to return to school to chase nursing degrees.

Amber Snider, the student speaker, earned her nursing degree after her father’s death.

Snider told her fellow graduates that her father, an electrical engineer who died in a vehicle accident on his way to work at Crane, had always instructed her to find a job she loved, so that she’d never have to work a day in her life.

She did. Helping patients has helped Snider fill the emptiness her father’s death left, she said.

“I knew that when I finished school, I was going to wake up every day and love being a nurse,” Snider said.

Faculty honor

In the ceremony program, longtime Ivy Tech nursing professor Celinda Kay Leach was honored for becoming the first faculty member in Ivy Tech’s 47-year history to be named a professor emeritus.

She earned the honor in December, after a career where she graduated 2,300 nurses and twice won the Ivy Tech President’s Award for Excellence in Instruction, the program said. Kay Leach deserved “singular recognition and credit” for development of Bloomington’s nursing program, Whikehart said in a statement.

Michael Ely celebrates as he accepts his associate’s degree Friday and shakes the hand of Ivy Tech Community College President Thomas J. Snyder during the school’s graduation at the Indiana University Auditorium. Helping Ely is Michael Ross. Ely, who has cerebral palsy, studied Web development. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

Ivy Tech graduate Arisha Anderson, an outstanding student award recipient, receives an associate’s degree in applied science Friday during the Ivy Tech Community College graduation ceremony at the Indiana University Auditorium. Anderson came to Bloomington from Chicago in the early 1990s to train for the Olympics as a heptathlete, but health issues got in the way of those dreams. Nearly 20 years later, she returned to school at Ivy Tech, and with her first degree in hand now plans to work toward a bachelor’s. “My mom always said that they can’t take my education away from me,” Anderson said. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

Nursing graduate Amber Snider speaks Friday at the Ivy Tech Community College graduation ceremony. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

Copyright: 2011