It had been thirty-three years since I walked out the doors of my home town high school and in through the doors of Fort Wayne, Ivy Tech Community College. Seeking a degree after so many years! What was I thinking! I was thinking that I wanted more for myself, a new direction, something to aspire towards, and to fulfill an inner vision I saw for myself.

My decision to go back to school was not taken lightly; there was a lot to consider-family (a single mother of three grown children, two grandchildren and commitments to an aging mother), economic considerations, self doubt, and time management. I knew in my "heart of hearts" at times there was going to be conflict among those factors; I didn’t go into it blindly. I knew these would be all barriers I would have to cross, but I also knew if I stayed steadfast on my path and accomplished what I set out to do; it would work itself out in someway. I had to have faith. Ironically, those barriers that I had to cross turn out to be the very substance of what I sought to improve: a chance for better employment, an improved quality of life for my family, and a belief in me.

Reflecting back on the first day of classes in 2009, I was overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation towards the new journey I was about to embark. I was pleased to see the diversity in the ages of my fellow class mates. It was comforting to know that there were other people like myself (the non-traditional student) with similar aspirations. As I sat through those first days of classes and the syllabi were passed out, the full enfoldment of the amount of commitment it was going to take came to light. My excitement turned to pure fear, but I kept reminding myself that this was something I really wanted and if it was something I really wanted my efforts would not be wasted. After many days and nights of sitting in front of a blank Word document trying to pull words out of my head for an English paper, dwelling over math problems that looked like a foreign language, trying to memorize multiple body systems for anatomy when I thought there was not possibly enough room left in my brain, or missing many family functions because I needed the extra study time, something wonderful started happening; I was surviving college. My commitment to that inner vision I saw for myself was paying off.

The end of my education journey through Ivy Tech Community College is fast approaching. I will be graduating in the spring (2012) with an AAS degree in Office Administration with a concentration in medical; however, I did not reach this point on my own. I recognize the fact I could not have made it without the support and sacrifices of my family, and the encouragement and guidance received from my professors and staff at Ivy Tech. I am truly thankful. A new life journey starts.
Theresa Huelsenbeck

I would like to take this opportunity to explain how I became a successful student at Ivy Tech. I will be graduating on May 4, 2012. After 2 ½ years of hard work and dedication to my education, I will be graduating Cum Laude with a grade point average of 3.64, and having obtained an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Office Administration /Medical Billing and Coding.

I lost my job after almost 30 years in the automotive industry. The fortunate aspect of losing my job was that they paid for me to go to college. I didn’t want to go to college at the age of 50. I just wanted to get a job and earn a paycheck.

As I started the first semester, I was very overwhelmed and frustrated. I forgot all the study habits I had once used, and I struggled to keep up. I felt like giving up and tried to find a job, but to no avail. As it turns out, I truly believe that not being able to find a job was a blessing in disguise. If I would have found a job, I would have never finished college.

Some of the things that enabled me to be successful at Ivy Tech were making friends in the classrooms and having "study buddies", asking questions to my teachers and other students if I didn’t understand, and most importantly; using the resources that are available at Ivy Tech.

 Some resources that I utilized were the tutors in the Center for Academic Excellence, the library, various workshops to stay "in the know", Ivy Tech e-mails, and acquainted myself and networked with personnel and staff. The Academic Advising Center kept me on track with my career and education goals, Career Services helped me prepare my resume professionally, the TRiO department helped boost my confidence level, and by becoming a student worker and participating in the internship program, I was able to utilize my skills and knowledge that I learned throughout my education.

The key to success in college for me was to make it the highest priority in my life, to do my personal best while maintaining a positive attitude and keeping an open mind.  I put much faith in God and accepted the fact that for every door closed, another one opens.
Kathy Winebrenner