The way we define success can be personal, professional, or a combination of both. How do we know when we’re successful? How do we recognize success in others? Does success begin with setting goals or reaching them?
What we do know is everyone defines success differently. Every positive thing you do that leads to earning your degree is success. Small victories add up to big accomplishments. Tell us how you define success and you could be featured as our next student success story.
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Ernesto Rivas gained extensive military knowledge after more than 12 years in the United States Marine Corps. However, civilian life proved to be a new challenge and Ernesto struggled to make ends meet.
After learning of the GI bill, Ernesto was able to begin his transition from soldier to student.
Read more about how Ivy Tech helped Ernesto along the path to a career serving other veterans by choosing his story below.
According to Paul, you should "Believe in yourself." After working at a Christmas tree farm for three years, Paul decided to reevaluate his future and go back to school. He is now a leader at a global communications company in Indianapolis.
Read more about how Ivy Tech helped Paul become a technology pioneer by choosing his story below.
Read how other Ivy Tech students define their success!
Indianapolis Campus | General Studies Graduate
“I am thankful for the opportunity and experience I had at Ivy Tech. This was quite a journey for me.”
Cathalyn Ajayi chose to come to Ivy Tech Community College as an adult, after being out of school for many years. She originally started taking courses at Ivy Tech several years ago, but stopped out. In 2014, she made the decision to come back, and she is now on track to graduate December 2016.
“I chose Ivy Tech because I had heard about it and how easy it would be to attend after so many years after high school; it would be an easier transition to get back into learning.”
She was attracted to not only the ability to transition into school as an adult at Ivy Tech, but also to the more than 1,000 online courses offered by the College.
During her time at Ivy Tech, Cathalyn took courses directly related to her job in administration and computer information systems. She noted that her studies at Ivy Tech helped her achieve a promotion in her career. As of December 2016, Cathalyn works at St. Vincent Health in the administrative field.
Cathalyn plans to transfer her credits and start her bachelor's degree in February 2017 in business information systems.
Fort Wayne Campus | Network Infrastructure Graduate
"Student takes first place in Cisco networking competition"
As Cody Arnold took a computer networking certification exam in April, he applied a recommended approach to test-taking: Be confident. Proceed. Breathe. Repeat.
The strategy proved hugely successful for the Ivy Tech Community College Northeast network infrastructure major. Arnold achieved first place in the 2015 Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician, or CCENT, competition among 170 high school, college, and university participants from the United States and Canada.
“I was fairly confident I would do well, and I thought the rounds would be easy to me,” Arnold says. “However, I did not expect that I would win at all. The second round, the one that really matters, was so difficult and unclear I thought I had completely failed, so I nearly forgot about the competition soon after submitting my work. I was very surprised to see myself in first place when the notifications rolled out.”
The first portion of the exam involved a 100-question virtual test that lasted an hour, equaling out to less than a minute per question. The second portion included a virtual lab with vague instructions, allowing Cisco to see if competitors could think on their feet, Arnold says.
For winning, he received a $150 voucher for CCENT certification.
“I really do owe my success to the people who teach me and the educational structure that surrounds me. Literally everything in the competition, I learned from Ivy Tech,” says Arnold, who is also a student intern with Ivy Tech Northeast’s Computer and Technology Services office on campus.
Associate Network Engineer Alexander Jovanovich has supervised Arnold since his internship began last December.
“Cody will be America’s next networking all-star one day,” Jovanovich says. “He has an inquisitive mind for the subject matter, and he retains knowledge very well.”
In May, Arnold took his knowledge a step further by earning a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certificate—a degree of networking skill higher than the CCENT—which complements his existing certifications: A+, Net+, and Security+. He plans to continue competing, too, with his sights on the 2016 USA and Canada CCNA NetRiders competition next spring.
Indianapolis Campus | Business Administration Graduate
According to Lore’al Avery, “Impossible is nothing.”
Growing up in Gary, Indiana, being the daughter of a single mother, and the first in her family to graduate college, Lore’al has proven that no matter your background, “Impossible is nothing.” Lore’al began her college career with three goals in mind: to finish college, to do so debt-free, and to do so with a 3.5 GPA or higher. This year she accomplished all three of her goals, graduating Cum Laude from Ivy Tech. She took advantage of most, if not all, of the opportunities provided to her during her collegiate career. Lore’al is a former volunteer for Girls Inc., and a Bowen Scholar, which she credits as one of the biggest reasons that she was able to accomplish her goals during her time at Ivy Tech.
In November 2015, Lore’al competed for the crown and title of Miss Indiana USA 2016. Along with this, Lore’al was provided with several opportunities to network with some of Indianapolis’s most elite individuals. She attended an event put on by the Indianapolis Urban League at the Lucas Estate and went to see Judy Smith, Star Jones, and Steve Harvey during their visits to Indianapolis. She also accepted two invitations to speak on behalf of the Bowen Scholarship Program; at Ivy Tech’s Circle of Ivy Women in Philanthropy Initiative and in Naples, Florida at the Bowen’s Estate.
Lore’al is transferring to IUPUI in fall 2016 to study business and finance, with a minor in communications. She will be competing Miss Indiana USA 2017.
Fort Wayne Campus | Business Administration Graduate
"I like to tell my story to students" Alumna’s experience with being mentored helps her pay it forward.
Challenges from parenting, transportation issues, and tight budgets can serve as barriers to college graduation, but none of them is an acceptable excuse to Odessa Aytch (pronounced like the letter H).
In fact, these examples are rites of passage from her journey through poverty, single parenting, work–school balance, and having no car.
Today, Aytch is an Ivy Tech Community College Northeast graduate and a Student Success instructor who, each semester, teaches a few IVYT classes, a college-preparatory requirement for first-year students.“I love teaching these classes,” Aytch says. “I like to tell my story to students and encourage them to continue their educational endeavors despite the challenges they might be facing.”
Aytch’s own story begins in the Bronx, a New York City neighborhood where she grew up sharing a five-bedroom apartment with her mother, sister, aunt, uncles, cousins, and grandparents in James Monroe Houses—a low-income housing project with nearly 2,900 residents.
“I grew up in poverty, but I didn’t know I was poor,” Aytch says. "Everyone I knew lived the same way I did, but I still have great memories.” Those memories include running through jets of water spraying from opened fire hydrants and chasing after the Mr. Softy truck to enjoy an occasional ice cream cone with sprinkles. Some of her memories do not belong in any childhood: Drug addicts smoking crack along the staircases where she lived. Men urinating in the hallways and elevators.
By the time Aytch was 17, her mother wanted to provide a better life for her daughters, so she completed an application and was approved for public housing in Fort Wayne, where her sister already lived. The family relocated, and Aytch transferred to Snider High School and experienced culture shock. “I just didn’t fit in,” she says. “Students would ask me if I was Jamaican or African based on my accent. In the Bronx, people would just mind their own business and befriend you with caution.”
Feeling unwelcomed, Aytch dropped out. She didn’t want to end her education, but she did want out of Snider. Within a year, she earned a GED, becoming the first person in her immediate family to complete a high school credential. “I had something to prove,” Aytch says. “I had always heard I will never amount to anything.”Four weeks later, she enrolled at Ivy Tech Northeast, majoring in office administration and taking one class a semester while working a retail job.
In 2004, Aytch got pregnant and continued her classes until it was time for her son’s birth. When Aytch returned to school, she realized her life had transformed significantly, from single student to single mother and work–study student enrolled full time. On select days, she made as many as nine bus transfers to attend classes, go to work, and address her childcare needs.
Fortunately, Aytch found a mentor in Rula Mourad Koudsia, who had been one of her office administration instructors when she left school to have her son. Thanks to Koudsia, Aytch completed her class. Their teacher–student relationship expanded into a series of email exchanges and impromptu visits to discuss community services referrals, career advice, and life goals.
“As she transitioned from class to class and then approached finishing her associate degree, I said, ‘What’s next?’” says Koudsia, now the Student Success program chair. “I didn’t want to give her the opportunity to say, ‘I’m done.’” Following graduation, Aytch earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Indiana Wesleyan University, which made her eligible to teach IVYT classes. Koudsia hired her immediately.
“There are many students who can relate to her on a number of levels, whether it’s her race, socioeconomic status, role as a single mom, or position as a student just trying to be a better person,” Koudsia says.
Aytch says next on her agenda is the completion of a master’s degree in management later this year and preparation toward a career in higher education as an academic advisor, executive assistant, or program chair.
“No matter what I do, I want to give back and pour into students as people have poured into me,” Aytch says.
Sandra Banales, 24, couldn't speak a single word of English when she sheepishly walked into Klondike Elementary School in West Lafayette on her first day of first grade. She learned the language in no time, and over time, grew passionate about it. Sandra is now on track to receive her master's degree in English (Literary Studies) from Purdue University in May 2017.
She is quick to credit others for the motivation to succeed in the classroom. "First and foremost" is her mom, who consistently believed in her and challenged her; a first-grade teacher who was "far from intimidating" and made learning English fun; and Ivy Tech Community College Lafayette, where she began her post high school education in the fall of 2011.
"As my high school years were coming to a close, I began to think about my future. Going to college was a given, but I wasn't ready for a large and rigorous university like Purdue," says Sandra. Her two older sisters had attended Ivy Tech for a year before transferring to larger universities, and they enjoyed their experiences. Sandra decided to pursue the same route.
"From the first time I visited the cozy Lafayette campus, I was hooked," she recalls. "The Ivy Tech faculty and staff were so welcoming, and I was attracted by the many ways to get involved."
Soon after the semester began, she discovered the Latino Student Union (LSU), and quickly felt at home. "This group was like family to me," she says. "I participated in events such as Hispanic Day on Campus and volunteered at places such as Lafayette Transitional Housing." She notes some of the friends she made through this organization are her friends today.
Through LSU she also had the opportunity to attend the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute annual conference in Chicago, a premier opportunity to network with others and hear from Latino leaders and motivational speakers representing various fields. "I was so inspired by these influential Latinos. I decided then I wanted to be one of those people one day," she says.
In the classroom she took primarily core courses: math, English, and history. "I was fortunate to have excellent instructors in all my classes who explained information well and because of the small class sizes, were able to provide individual attention to students. I maintained a 4.0 grade point average, and felt ready to begin my next journey," she says.
That next step was to apply to Purdue. All but one of her Ivy Tech classes transferred. She initially applied to Hospitality and Tourism (HTM) and was accepted, but she quickly realized the major was not for her. She decided to switch to Exploratory Studies before taking any HTM classes and began taking English literature classes during her sophomore year. She says, deep down, she always knew she had a "connection with English." At the start of her junior year she transferred into the college of Liberal Arts and officially declared English Literature as her major.
During her senior year she realized she wanted to get an advanced degree, and applied for the competitive Master's program in English. "More than 400 students applied, and less than 10 percent were accepted. I was one of them," she says proudly.
She graduated with her Bachelor's degree in May 2015, and began her master's program that fall. In addition to taking classes, she is also a graduate instructor for Purdue's introductory composition class, English 106. "I have been teaching 20 students each semester, and I love it," she states. Apparently students and faculty are equally pleased with her efforts. For her "excellence in teaching" she was awarded the Quintilian, or "Q," teaching award in the Spring of 2016 for being in the top 10 percent of instructor evaluations in the department.
What is next along Sandra's journey? "I am not certain about my future job once I graduate," she says. "But I am thinking about working in the education field, maybe teach English outside of the United States, in Mexico or another country."
She's come a long way from when she first entered Ivy Tech Community College, but she says she often thinks about it. "Ivy Tech prepared me to handle Purdue," she states. "I honestly believe I pursued a master's degree and tried so hard to excel academically because of my experiences at Ivy Tech and with the LSU. I was motivated and surrounded by both like-minded individuals and others I could learn from. I am forever grateful for having gone to Ivy Tech for my first year."
Fort Wayne Campus | Business Administration Graduate
Alexandra always knew that she was interested in the field of business. She decided to take dual credit courses so that she could earn both high school credit and college credit towards her business major. “I knew it would help me get through college quicker and save me a lot of money.” She enrolled in business marketing as well as business financing.
Prior to enrolling at Ivy Tech, Alexandra knew that she wanted to stay home for her first two years of college. Ivy Tech helped her to get a feel of college before she chose a university to attend.
“I felt that the dual credit classes would help me get a head start in college. My credits would transfer easily.”
During her time at Ivy Tech, Alexandra was very grateful for the free tutoring services. They helped her accomplish many tasks that were holding her back. Another aspect of the college that she enjoyed was Ivy Tech’s student organizations.
Her future plans involve transferring to a four-year university in order to finish her degree in business administration. Ultimately, Alexandra’s career goal is to work in a successful marketing firm.
“My advice to dual credit students it that it is worth taking dual credit classes because you will be ahead of the game.”
Indianapolis Campus | Accounting Graduate
“Ivy Tech has been instrumental in redefining, re-inspiring and redirecting my life.”
During Chris Bowen’s time at Ivy Tech, he got to meet President Obama, serve as Student Government Association President and start a whole new career path. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, and he would be the first to tell you.
“Returning to school as a 40-something is not a decision easily made, and with the demands of children, current career, and just everyday life, following through on the decision can seem impossible,” he said. But Chris knew he had to do it. “For me, it was about doing my part to set a good example for my child. Telling him how important his education is, while not completing mine was not the message I wanted to send.” Chris and his son were both enrolled in college at the same time and competed in a “friendly competition” to spur each other on to higher grade point averages. “Currently, he is winning, but in the end, we will both be winners,” Chris said.
The other reason Chris chose to return to school was to have a bigger impact on the Indianapolis community. He previously worked for fortune 500 companies, and after a career in restaurant management where he had even been a partner in a popular local establishment, he wanted more. “At the end of the day I felt like all I had done was feed someone that would soon be hungry again. I wanted to learn how to serve others in more important areas of their lives,” Chris said. He started volunteering at one of the Mayor’s Charter Schools and it led to being hired as a bookkeeper. However, shortly after the downturn in the Economy, the restaurant closed and the part-time position with the school was not enough income to support his family. To add insult to injury, the rules for Charter School financial management changed, requiring certifications he did not have. His options were to return to the restaurant industry or to update his skills and education. “Failure and unemployment were not options, and as depressing as it was to be unemployed, I knew it would only be a temporary set-back if I invested in myself,” Chris said.
Chris was intimidated to come back to school, but he had a strategy. He got involved in Student Life, volunteering for Ivy Tech Days of Service and the panel build for Habitat for Humanity. As he became more involved, more opportunities were presented to him, such as the Chancellor’s Service Scholars program and the Leadership Academy. Eventually he served as Student Government President and had the honor of meeting President Obama during his visit to Ivy Tech. President Obama told Chris he could “see why he was selected by his peers to represent them.”
Even though he received many job offers after the first year of coursework, he decided to push through and finish his degree. Chris graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Accounting and was hired by Ivy Tech to work in the Office of the President in the finance office. From there, he was recruited by a CPA group in Indianapolis.
“I am honored to be an alumnus of Ivy Tech ... I could never repay this institution for what they gave me, but I will try by telling everyone who will listen that Ivy Tech really does help make our dreams a reality and should they be considering attending college in Indiana, Ivy Tech should be the FIRST place they look to help them reach their goals.”
Electronic Engineering Technology Graduate
Ivy Tech graduate Paul Brenner is a technology pioneer. Paul is president of NextRadio and TagStation at Emmis Communications, a diversified global communications entity that owns and operates radio, television and magazine entities in large and medium-sized markets throughout the U.S., Europe and Latin America. He has worked very hard to get where he is today—and he credits Ivy Tech with getting his career off to the right start.
“Ivy Tech gave me choices,” Paul says. “Now I’m a corporate technology executive in a global company. I really view Ivy Tech as the beginning of my career success.”
When Paul was a high school student, he didn’t excel academically, and he struggled to find a career path. His less-than-stellar grades made him think he wasn’t cut out for college, and he spent three years working at a Christmas tree farm and party supplier. After overcoming some personal challenges, however, he reevaluated his future and decided it was time to go back to school.
Paul started in the photography program, but quickly switched majors after discovering a passion for the rapidly expanding field of Electronic Engineering Technology. The once-unlikely college student thrived, at Ivy Tech after earning an associate degree he went on to complete a bachelor’s in E-Business and Masters of Information Systems at University of Phoenix.
When a job opened up at Emmis, Paul seized the opportunity, eventually rising through the organization to the position he has today. The lesson, he says, is that you can do anything if you’re willing to work hard.
“You don’t see a lot of division presidents who started at community colleges,” he says. “I had to fight for my accomplishments. People judge you based on what you’ve done. They care about what you can do for their organization.”
Paul’s current project is to get NextRadio, the FM radio streaming app that he built from the ground up, on every smartphone.
“Believe in yourself,” Paul says. “Use every failure and every success to reflect on your ability and ways to improve. Be adaptable. Pick a career that motivates you, not just gives you a paycheck. Never stop learning, be humble and you will be fine.”
Paul currently serves on the Regional Board of Trustees for Ivy Tech Community College Central Indiana, where he continues to give back to the College where he got his start.
Indianapolis Campus | Advanced Automation and Robotics Technology Student
Marc Brewer has worked at a distribution center in Indianapolis since 2006. He started in the outbound department, loading boxes onto trucks, eventually moving to inbound, where he helped receive freight. It was here that another job caught his eye.
As Marc worked in the distribution center, he saw the mechanics repairing and troubleshooting equipment and it sparked his interest. He approached his employer and learned about a program at Ivy Tech Community College that would prepare him for a job as a mechanic.
In January 2014, Marc made the decision to enroll in the Advanced Automation and Robotics Technology program at Ivy Tech’s Downtown Indianapolis Campus.
Through the program, Marc has been able to get hands-on experience with equipment such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs), which has been one of his favorite aspects of the program.
“A lot of things I learn at Ivy Tech, I do in the field. It’s not like you learn about it in the book and then it’s completely different in real life,” Marc said. “You can learn something from the book, but once you get your hands on it and actually do it, that’s how you get a better understanding of it.”
Prior to attending Ivy Tech, Marc had earned a degree from another institution, but it did not help him advance in his career, and ultimately cost him valuable time and money. He noted it was a set-back, but he decided to move forward, encouraging other students to do the same.
“Don’t quit school. Find something you’re interested in, whatever intrigues your mind, that’s what you should go with. There are always opportunities to change your mind.”
Along the way, Marc has kept a busy schedule. He has his hands full with work, taking care of his teenage niece and nephew and a having a baby of his own. Marc said he could not have done it without time management skills and the support of his wife and family.
Due to his pursuit of additional education, Marc has gotten a promotion at work as a mechanic, where he gets to do what he loves. Marc is also now teaching classes part-time at Ivy Tech in the Advanced Automation and Robotics program while finishing his degree.
“Through Ivy Tech I got a promotion at work and the opportunity to teach students, so I can pass on what I’ve learned in the field. It makes me feel good about myself that I can take what I learned and pass that knowledge onto other students.”
Indianapolis Campus | Political Science-International Relations Graduate
Casey Bridgeford graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and started his own successful company to help fellow entrepreneurs, all by starting at Ivy Tech.
Casey Bridgeford made the decision to enroll at Ivy Tech Community College after his first business venture was unsuccessful. At the start, his primary goal was to earn good enough grades to retain the Bowen Scholarship he had been awarded. It wasn’t long before he established himself as a stellar student, consistently on the Dean’s List. That led Casey to consider what else he might be able to accomplish. He joined the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society and started to apply himself. “I began to set my sights higher,” he says. “I began to inquire about the possibility of going to an Ivy League university.”
That dream became a reality after Casey was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania. He was able to transfer the credits he earned at Ivy Tech to earn a bachelor’s degree in Political Science-International Relations. During his time at the University, he was a member of the Onyx Academic
Honors Society and served as a Wharton Fellow, working on the roll-out of Wharton Social Impact Initiative-Africa.
Casey started his own company, OnCast Media, which helps African entrepreneurs overcome barriers and connect them to resources to help get their businesses off the ground. He has also received several honors, including the Citizen’s Energy “125 Leaders” Award and the opportunity to give a TED Talk titled “When Talent Isn’t Enough.” He was recently asked to be on a panel with Forbes 30 under 30 on CNBC Africa’s Young Money segment to discuss the state of entrepreneurship in Africa.
He is actively involved in his community, as a current advisor for My Brother’s Keeper, board member of 18TWENTY8 and advisory board member for NetLiteracy. Casey is also a member of Think Tanks and Civil Societies, a prestigious research group to produce content for the internationally acclaimed publication “The Global Go To Think Tank Index.”
Casey says his experience at Ivy Tech transformed him from someone who adamantly rejected the benefits of higher education to one who sees it as an essential tool for achieving his goals. Accordingly, he has become an advocate for young people to attend college.
“I can, and any other student can, make it from right here. Anyone can achieve anything from starting right here at Ivy Tech.”
South Bend Campus | Criminal Justice Graduate
"...I needed a college that was affordable, flexible, and close to home..."
At the age of 5, Rochelle was sent to live with extended family in the Michiana area. It was different, and a long way from her home in Denver, Colorado. Michiana had no mountains, and the winters were bone-chillingly cold—nothing like a Colorado winter. But, Rochelle eventually adjusted to her new life, making the best of it until she had to leave home again as a high school senior. This time, after just turning 18 years old, it was Rochelle’s responsibility to find a place to live. She was 18, out on her own, and still in high school.
“I had to make it work,” said Rochelle. “It wasn’t easy. It never is. But, I learned a lot about myself and my drive to not just survive, but to make something of myself.” For many high school seniors, working two jobs, paying for your own place, food, and bills is unimaginable. For Rochelle, it was her life. And, despite the odds, she finished her senior at Clay High School.
“After I graduated, I knew I wanted to continue going to school, but I needed a college that was affordable, flexible, and close to home…because I still had to work two jobs,” said Rochelle. “A friend told me about Ivy Tech and suggested I look into it.”
At Ivy Tech, Rochelle said she found what she needed: flexible class times and formats, low tuition and small class sizes. This allowed Rochelle to keep working while pursuing an associate degree.
In 2009, Rochelle graduated from Ivy Tech with her associate degree in Criminal Justice and transferred to Trine University. After graduating a couple of years later with a bachelor’s degree, Rochelle went on to earn a Master of Science in Administration of Justice and Security in 2014 from the University of Phoenix.
Now, Rochelle is a probation officer for St. Joseph County, and can serve in any court in the State of Indiana.
She is also a court substance abuse management specialist and an adjunct faculty member at Ivy Tech’s South Bend and Elkhart County campuses—teaching the courses she took not long ago.
Rochelle continues to contribute to her community beyond her public service career. She volunteers with Big Sister in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, serves in leadership positions with her church, and helps develop the church’s youth programs. Rochelle is also involved with the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, which offers programs and service to local communities and charities, funds scholarships, and promotes legislation for social and civil change.
“Regardless of my past I am somebody, and my journey doesn’t stop here,” Rochelle said. Her goals for the future include becoming a probation officer for the United States Courts and starting her own minority female private investigative firm.
Indianapolis Campus | Nursing Graduate
According to Kirsten Calhoun, sometimes in life people get stuck thinking about all the things they thought they got wrong or what they could have done differently. She noted that her graduation day was a day to reflect on what she had done right.
Kirsten first knew she wanted to be a nurse in high school, which was more than 20 years ago. Her goals were delayed by starting a family and choosing a different career path but her passion for nursing never left.
Her journey to achieve her career aspirations was not an easy one. Over the course of the years she helped care for her grandmother, who eventually passed from lung cancer, her father, who became ill and required care at home and her late husband, who passed away in 2012 from lung disease.
“It was then that I took a chance and left my 15-year career with a local school district to finally obtain my dream,” Kirsten said.
The summer of 2012 she started taking her pre-requisites at Ivy Tech Community College in hopes of eventually getting into the nursing program.
“This is the program everyone talks about, the program with the best reputation, the program that everyone works so hard for to get that acceptance letter,” Kirsten said.
In June 2015, Kirsten was ecstatic to get her acceptance packet from Ivy Tech.
“I had the excitement of a 5 year old on Christmas morning, but that excitement soon became unraveled,” Kirsten said.
A month before she was to start nursing school, Kirsten’s world was turned completely upside down when her 23-year-old son passed away. She was devastated by the loss and decided to meet with the nursing department chair to discuss her options for moving forward.
“The compassion I received that day from Ms. DeLeon told me to keep pressing forward and I knew it was the right thing to do. I knew that Ivy Tech would become a part of my family and I was going to get through this,” Kirsten said.
Along the way, she met classmates who shared the same passion for nursing and developed lasting friendships. She noted that with every accomplishment she made in the program, her professors were there to cheer her on.
“Always reflect on and embrace your own personal journey that reminds you of what you got right today, because this will be one of the most valuable journeys you’ve ever gotten right,” Kirsten said of graduation day.
Kirsten graduated December 2016 and served as the student commencement speaker for the school of nursing ceremony. She plans to work in the community to help combat the heroin epidemic. Kirsten also plans to work toward her master’s degree in nursing education so she can return to Ivy Tech to teach.
Indianapolis Campus | ASAP Graduate
Esther Condé earned her bachelor’s degree in three years and is now excelling in her career.
By taking advantage of Ivy Tech’s Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP), Esther Condé was able to earn her bachelor’s degree in three years and get a head start toward a great career. Esther speaks French fluently and is originally from Guinea, where her parents still reside. She made the decision to come to the United States to pursue her education.
In 2011, Esther graduated from the ASAP Program, earning her associate degree in just one year. The credits she earned at Ivy Tech transferred to Ashford University in Iowa, where she received a full-ride scholarship to study business administration. Just two years later, she was able to complete her bachelor’s degree.
“Transferring from ASAP to Ashford University was really easy for me because of my friends and because of the support staff. They really pushed me throughout ASAP and I took that with me to Ashford University,” Esther said. “I feel like I’m more successful because of ASAP.”
Upon graduation, she was hired by NextGear Capital as an audit reconciliation representative. She found the job opportunity through a career fair during her time at Ivy Tech. Esther has been offered a promotion within her company to a position in Canada, where she can utilize her French-speaking skills and the knowledge/skills she learned at Ivy Tech.
Indianapolis Campus | Information Technology Support Graduate
“Ivy Tech helped make my largest dreams come true.”
According to Oumar Coulibaly, the word success defined his experience at Ivy Tech.
During his time at Ivy Tech Community College, Oumar successfully achieved his biggest accomplishments in life. Oumar is from the country Mali, so attending school in the US was a huge achievement for him.
Since Oumar was learning as an international student, he did not think that college was meant for him. Just three years ago, he was not even able to speak English. Some of the challenges he was forced to overcome were accommodating himself to the English language as well as the American culture.
He gained more knowledge with new technology software at a low cost through Ivy Tech. Oumar appreciated the computer skills that he learned that give him the opportunity to study something he is extremely passionate about.
His favorite parts of attending Ivy Tech were his helpful instructors and the Learning Resource Center. The small class sizes were also important to Oumar, because he felt personal attention from each instructor.
Oumar is proud of himself and his success at Ivy Tech. Being a foreign student in a different country is an accomplishment in itself. Not only was he able to attain his degree, but was also able to experience an entirely different culture other than his own. “Graduating from college was a dream to me. Ivy Tech helped make my largest dreams come true.”
In the future, Oumar plans to gain as much experience in his field as possible after attaining his college degree. With his Ivy Tech degree, he will transfer to a four year institute and achieve his future goals. He plans to open a school for computing and English in his home country Mali.
According to Oumar, “Ivy Tech made me believe in myself and helped me to find my way.”
Columbus Campus | Environmental Design Graduate
Kelsey Dugle’s interior design skills will soon appear on televisions everywhere.
A 2016 graduate of Ivy Tech Community College, Dugle recently worked as a design production assistant for the HGTV show “Good Bones.” The show, filmed in Indianapolis, features mother and daughter real estate team Karen E. Laine and Mina Starsiak renovating homes in the Fountain Square and Bates-Hendricks neighborhoods.
As a design production assistant, Dugle helped decorate and stage newly renovated homes for the show.
“We go in and we make it look pretty,” Dugle said. “We bring in the rugs, the furniture, the lamps, the artwork, and we put the room together to stage it for the show.”
The design skills she learned at the Ivy Tech Columbus School of Fine Arts and Design helped her stand out among the show’s other production assistants. She was the only one with a degree in environmental interior design, which earned her the trust of the show’s interior designers to effectively and professionally stage a room.
Dugle landed the job the way many college graduates find their first jobs — by searching online. A resident of Greensburg, Dugle was looking for jobs in the Indianapolis and Cincinnati areas. She kept in touch with her instructors at Ivy Tech, who helped guide her search until she found the production assistant listing on the Indiana Design Center website.
“I sent my resume and everything to the production manager, but he told me the job had been filled,” Dugle recalls. “A month later, he called me back and asked if I was still interested because they needed someone right away.”
The education she received at Ivy Tech prepared her well and provided her a pathway to a fulfilling career opportunity. Before coming to the College, she considered becoming a teacher and was studying education at another university.
After taking a few education classes and substitute teaching, she felt teaching wasn’t the right fit for her. In her history courses, she was more interested in the historic structures rather than the names and dates of the events that took place.
She also liked doing home improvement and do-it-yourself projects. Whenever there was work to be done around home, such as painting or carpeting, she would help out.
“I always felt kind of handy,” Dugle said. “I thought about doing interior design years ago, but I pushed it aside.”
With a renewed interest in interior design, she researched design schools throughout the state and found that the quality and depth of Ivy Tech’s program aligned well with her. Following her interests in historic buildings, she also took a course in historic preservation, which she aced.
She also liked that Ivy Tech enabled her to take classes and complete the program close to home.
“I feel like I got a full four years in less than two,” Dugle said. “It’s fantastic.”
Her job as a production assistant has wrapped up for now. She expects the episodes that feature rooms she helped stage to air in late May 2017.
As she searches for her next opportunity, she has the invaluable experience of designing homes for a national television show.
Fort Wayne Campus | Visual Communications Student
What are your plans after graduation? Getting a bachelor’s degree in the audio-video and graphic design fields.
What is your No. 1 career goal? This is a question where I’ve been changing the answer over and over again. I want a career working for a marketing company, taking photographs of events and people and creating layouts for publicity.
Who has been your biggest cheerleader? My biggest cheerleader has been myself. If this weren’t the case, I would have stopped studying right after high school, or I would have quit college after I failed my first class. My parents have been pretty supportive, too, in everything I’ve been involved with.
What does “success” mean to you? Success, to me, means living life doing something you love to do. If you enjoy your job, the workplace, the people, and the positive vibes around them, that’s success. But that doesn't mean we should stop once we reach that point. We should always be creating new goals to improve ourselves.
Madison and Karen Gellinger
Indianapolis Campus | Nursing
Mother and daughter Karen and Madison Gellinger both decided to come to Ivy Tech to pursue careers in nursing. When asked if Karen influenced her daughter’s decision to come to Ivy Tech, Karen responded, “Absolutely.”
Karen graduated from Ivy Tech in 2006 and now works at Community East Hospital in the Labor and Delivery Unit.
Several years ago, Karen made the decision to come to Ivy Tech when she found out her job as an account manager was being eliminated. She had always been interested in labor and delivery nursing and found that at Ivy Tech she was able to study nursing while staying at home with her children part-time. Karen was very happy with the class size, convenience, and affordability of Ivy Tech.
“It was quick and very affordable (with four children at home) and I was told by many of the clinical units that they preferred Ivy Tech graduates over other schools because we always worked really hard. My Director at Community East Hospital was also an Ivy Tech graduate,” Karen said.
When it came time for Madison to pick a college during her junior year of high school, Karen had some wise advice for her.
Thanks to her mother, Madison knew Ivy Tech would offer her one-on-one instruction that she would not get at a larger university. She also noted Ivy Tech is the most cost efficient route that will put her in her desired field in the least amount of time. Madison is currently enrolled at the Ivy Tech Hamilton County Campus.
“Ivy Tech will help me achieve my goals by giving me an excellent education with many opportunities for growth by allowing me to take my learning and advancement in my own hands.”
Along with Ivy Tech’s affordable tuition, Madison received a scholarship through the Rotary Club in Noblesville and won a drawing for a free class at the opening of the Hamilton County Campus. Similar to her mother, Madison’s favorite thing about Ivy Tech is its flexibility. She has the ability to create her class schedule around her work schedule, while continuing to advance.
Madison plans to graduate with her degree in nursing, just as her mother did. Upon graduation, her goal is to work in an emergency department of a hospital.
She said of her mother, “She was definitely a good example of the fact that Ivy Tech degrees stand out in the working field. Her success with the school made it apparent to me that it was an excellent place to obtain my education.”
Early Childhood Education
In the summer of 2016, Alexandra Green graduate with her Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education from Ivy Tech. Not only this, but she graduate Cum Laude and while still a student, began her career at the Monroe County YMCA - working with toddler-age children.
Alexandra has now been working with the YMCA for two years, and plans to transfer her associate degree to Indiana Wesleyan University to begin her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education in the spring of 2017. Alexandra entered Ivy Tech with a goal in mind: transferring to Indiana Wesleyan University to earn a bachelor's degree in her desired field.
“It is amazing watching children discover new things,” Green said. “I enjoy helping them learn things for themselves.”
Alexandra decided to enroll at Ivy Tech because of its affordability and online options, and encourages "anyone considering education to try working in the field first." The reasoning? "It will make you more aware of what a career in education will be like."
In April of 2016, Alexandra was one of seventeen childhood teachers awarded the Early Childhood Excellent Educator Award from Monore Smart Start - an award that recognizes educators who are improving education in the community.
Indianapolis Campus | Hospitality Administration Graduate
Rowena Hawkins’ family was shocked when she announced she was going to culinary school. This widow and mother of four never excelled in cooking and laughs about her lack of culinary experience prior to attending Ivy Tech’s Hospitality Administration program. She graduated with a Culinary Arts degree in May 2016.
“I could not cook eggs, I could not cook rice,” she said, noting how people asked her how she raised her children without cooking.
Rowena went back to school for herself and her children. Once she began taking classes, she became inspired and fell in love with cooking different recipes. She also loved the support system that her instructors and classmates gave her during her time at Ivy Tech.
Since graduating from Ivy Tech, Rowena had plenty of job opportunities. “I would say there is no reason to not have a job after Ivy Tech,” she said.
Rowena loved how the college helps students throughout their academic career. She is happy she chose to go back to school at Ivy Tech.
General Studies Student
Kanisha Head’s family was always on the move during her childhood.
“Because of my family situation, we moved a lot, I went to three high schools,” she said. “However, at a young age I was able to accept my fate and was determined to change it. I knew the only way to change it was to do well in school, graduate from high school, and go to college.”
During her senior year, Kanisha learned about the Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP). The program helps high school graduates earn an associate degree in just 11 months and prepares them to transfer to a four-year college to earn their bachelor's degree. She wanted to apply because she recognized a great opportunity.
But Kanisha wasn’t sure about her choice. “At first I was scared because I thought it would be a lot of hard work and fast paced. It is hard work! But it’s a good experience,” she said. “I’m so happy I applied.”
Kanisha is a great believer in hard work. “Do great in high school because that where it starts. You cannot slack during your senior year. That is the worse rumor I’ve ever heard. You should do your hardest work your senior year and it will really pay off,” she advises.
And Ivy Tech will help Kanisha reach her goals. “If you want to transfer, it’s definitely a more affordable route. Ivy Tech is a good stepping stone. It will get you where you want to go.”
While a student at Ivy Tech, Kanisha has taken advantage of opportunities to become involved, including Phi Theta Kappa, the college’s honor society, and the Student Leadership Academy.
Kanisha hopes to get an internship this summer and transfer to University of Indianapolis to study business. She’s happy that Ivy Tech will help her graduate with less debt.
“Ivy Tech is a great school and a great opportunity,” Kanisha said. “It’s changed my whole world and has given me the opportunities I’ve always hoped for.”
Tiffany Iraheta Huezo
Indianapolis Campus | Business Administration Graduate
Tiffany Iraheta Huezo is the definition of a high achiever.
During her two years at Ivy Tech Community College, Tiffany accomplished more than the average college student. She was involved in three honor societies: the National Society of Leadership and Success, Phi Theta Kappa and American Honors. She also served as a federal work study for the Career Development Office, which helped grow her professionally. Tiffany credits the Career Development Office, her advisor and her professors for helping her get where she is today.
“At the beginning of my first semester, I did not think that I was going to be a member of three honors societies … I can say that I am proud of where I am so far.”
Tiffany will graduate December 2016 cum laude, representing her division as the student speaker.
Next fall, Tiffany plans to transfer her credits to IUPUI to study marketing and international studies. Her dream career is to work for an international company and be a marketing manager. Eventually, once she gains enough experience, she would like to open her own European style club/restaurant.
“I will miss Ivy Tech, it was a great experience because I met amazing people, I had great opportunities in my education path, and career too.”
Wabash Valley Campus
Ivy Tech Student Graduates Rose-Hulman While Traveling to Empower Women
This spring, Julie was a Senior Chemical Engineering Major at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology with a double major in Biochemistry. She was enrolled in 6 classes at Rose (Advanced Biochemistry, Nanoparticle Drug Delivery, Senior Chemical Engineering Design: Lactic Acid Fermentation, Special Project Research: Chemical Engineering Bioreactor Installation, and Bee Virus Research) and four at Ivy Tech (Lifespan Development, Anatomy and Physiology I, Nutrition, LIBA capstone).
Last fall she was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa at Ivy Tech and, in January, she accepted the position as the Vice President of Scholarship for the chapter. Hopkins participated in a debate for Free Community College at Ivy Tech as part of our honors in action project for 2015, and the “Tomorrow’s Leaders” workshop as part of their college project.
This year at Rose-Hulman, she was awarded the Noel E. Moore Award from her professors and was inducted into Omicron Chi Epsilon (Chemical Engineering Honors Society) just a few weeks ago. She was a front page/opinions sections writer for the school newspaper and an all-conference athlete. In the community she has worked for two years volunteering at Union Hospital in the Cardiology Unit. She is an active participate in MAM or Morning After Ministries based out of Nashville, TN.
In 2009 she left Rose-Hulman to participate in this program and to work to make a difference in other women’s lives. This program seeks to empower women and to work with churches to teach them on how to better deal with their women members seeking help from self-hate, cutting, drug/alcohol abuse, and promiscuity. Additionally, she has traveled as a speaker to empower women recovering from rape/sexual trauma and alcohol addiction.
It was from this work that she changed her life course from engineering to nursing. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Ivy Tech on May 5th and with honors from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology on May 28th. Julie will be attending Goshen College for her BSN, class of 2018.
Indianapolis Campus | Human Services Graduate
“I believe setting goals is the start of one’s success! Without setting goals, nothing can be reached.”
In 2013, Rona James set a goal to go to college and come to Ivy Tech. This single mom began this journey excited, fearful and determined.
It wasn’t easy along the way and Rona was faced with many obstacles. She even changed her major three times before she found her purpose in human services. There were several late nights doing homework and studying but Rona persevered. Even with math and biology not being her strong suits, she still managed to be on the Dean’s List.
Rona loved her professors who helped push her to achieve her goal. In her last semester of school, she received the wrong textbooks for a class.
“The situation had totally depleted me until the great Mr. Cooney told me, ‘One day you will be able to look at this as an accomplishment!’” Rona said. “On December 17, 2016, I will!”
During her last two years at Ivy Tech, she was also a Bowen Scholar and was grateful for all the services they provided for her and her family.
Rona will graduate from Ivy Tech in December 2016 with her associate degree in human services. From there, she plans to transfer to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to study social work and obtain her master’s degree in counseling.
“I hope to one day open a facility to help pregnant teenage girls and their babies,” she said.
For other people who would like to make a change in their life, Rona encourages them to work to reach their goals.
“Today I am excited, fearless and determined to pass this baton to you and race to receive yet another one up ahead that waits for me!” she said. “Enjoy your journey, strive to meet your goals and soon you too will be passing your baton to someone else!”
Indianapolis Campus | Advanced Automation and Robotics Technology Graduate
“Never let anyone tell you that you can't do something, set your sights on your goals and dreams and just keep pushing through until you get there.”
After years of dead end jobs and wanting more for her life and family, Amanda decided she wanted to go into machine maintenance. She knew Ivy Tech Community College was the place to help her succeed in this career path.
“Being a woman, in a male dominated field, I knew that it was going to take an education and a lot of hard work.”
She knew having kids and a full-time job was going to present challenges in going back to school. As she explored her options, she discovered that Ivy Tech offered online classes, as well as small classes on campus. Before making the decision to go back to school, Amanda talked to her family and made sure that she would have their support.
“My real motivation was when an older man at my (then current) job told me that I couldn't be a machine mechanic because that was a man's job. I told him to hide and watch.”
The first couple semesters at Ivy Tech, Amanda took classes online and scheduled her classes on the same day of the week to work around her full-time work schedule.
Her employer offered tuition reimbursement at 100 percent for A's and 75 percent for B's. This pushed her to work hard for straight A’s, and continually landed her on the Dean’s list at Ivy Tech.
When her work schedule didn't allow her to take all the classes she needed on the same day, she would pick up welding classes to fill the gaps. While taking classes in welding, she learned about opportunities at a company called Major Tool and Machine.
About a year ago, she took took a big chance and switched jobs. As of December 2016, Amanda works as a machine mechanic at Major Tool and Machine, successfully accomplishing what she set out to achieve.
“My advice is never let anyone tell you that you can't do something; set your sights on your goals and dreams and just keep pushing through until you get there.”
Amanda will graduate with her associate degree in Advanced Automation and Robotics Technology in December 2016. Eventually Amanda plans to go on to get her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology or electrical engineering technology but for the time being, she plans to work and spend time with her family.
Columbus Campus | Mechanical Engineering Technology Graduate
As a boy growing up in Ghana, Walter Kansoriwula delighted in taking apart radios and fixing up bicycles.
He wanted to figure out how things work, and viewing his hobbies was like gazing into a crystal ball that showed his future.
“I always wanted to do engineering as a kid,” Kansoriwula said. “I didn’t know it was called engineering, but I’ve always been someone who likes learning by doing.”
Tinkering with household objects wasn’t Kansoriwula’s only interest. He was an adventurer at heart and wanted to see what the world had to offer.
That meant leaving his family’s farm and studying overseas in the United States as a foreign exchange student in high school — an experience that left such a positive impression that he came back to the U.S. after high school to pursue higher education at Ivy Tech Community College.
Kansoriwula wanted to study engineering. Columbus, Indiana, promised a perfect storm of opportunities to chase that dream. He was familiar with the people and the community from his high school exchange program, a Fortune 500 engine company was headquartered in the city, and he had local access to an affordable college education that offered the program he wanted to study and a pathway to a career.
An adventure for education
But first, he had to leave Ghana. Again.
Kansoriwula came to the U.S. at the age of 17. A junior in high school, he studied for a year at Columbus East as an exchange student and returned to Ghana to finish his high school education.
Ghana is located in West Africa with its southern border on the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean. The country’s population is estimated at 27 million, but the areas where Kansoriwula was raised and went to school were small with populations around 20,000.
His father farmed crops and livestock, an agricultural way of life that Kansoriwula was expected to continue. Technology was not as ubiquitous as in the United States.
“We had no computers. Just radios with cassette tapes,” Kansoriwula recalled. “Computers are not an everyday thing an office worker uses.”
Kansoriwula sought something different. His curiosity led him to take advantage of the student exchange program, which gave him a taste of the potential held by earning a college education in the United States.
When he informed his family that he wanted to return to the U.S., they were shocked and concerned about what would happen to him.
“It was an adventure for them and for me, too,” Kansoriwula said.
‘Conscientious about his work’
Kansoriwula landed back in Columbus and stayed with a friend’s family. He enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering Technology Program at Ivy Tech Columbus.
He adapted well to college academics, a smooth transition he attributes to the kindly help of Ivy Tech instructors.
His first challenge came when he enrolled in an English composition course. He was hoping to take the class in person on campus to advance his writing skills, but low enrollment in the course forced its cancellation. A section of the course was offered online, but Kansoriwula said he felt a bit unsure about it since it would be his first online course.
He sought out the course instructor, Dr. Jo Ann Hallawell, and discussed his options with her. Hallawell offered to help Kansoriwula in person whenever he needed it.
“He was very conscientious about his work. He really wanted to strengthen his writing skills,” she said. “To see his writing progress through that course was very fulfilling.”
Kansoriwula formed a bond with Hallawell that helped guide his education and provided him with a sounding board throughout his college education and into his career.
As he advanced at Ivy Tech, Kansoriwula found that the College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology Program strongly aligned with his interests. The program provides a hands-on curriculum that enables students to learn about materials, testing, and design. They also learn skills such as synthesizing, improving and implementing mechanical designs and gain a necessary understanding to support engineering processes such as collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data and troubleshooting mechanical systems.
Kansoriwula earned his associate degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology in May 2014 and transferred to Purdue University to pursue his bachelor’s degree.
“I feel like Ivy Tech really prepared me for Purdue,” Kansoriwula said. “Academically I was challenged, but I felt prepared for that.”
Thriving in his career
In summer 2015, Kansoriwula gained an internship at Cummins Inc. as a Program Readiness Intern. He worked in supply chain management, helping procure parts and ensuring their availability to build prototype engines.
He was attracted to the engine-making company for many reasons. It is a large company based in a city in which he felt connected; its workforce was global and diverse; and it actively emphasized corporate responsibility.
“It wasn’t just a company making money off of society. It is a company contributing back to society,” Kansoriwula said. “And they make engines. I like engines. It’s amazing to see how they work and how they affect our lives in so many ways.”
Kansoriwula completed his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology in 2016 and took a full-time position at Cummins as a test engineer. He now works daily with engines, testing them and collecting data on how they work.
He’s followed a career path that started at Ivy Tech, continued on at a four-year university and has resulted in a successful career at a major advanced manufacturing employer. Hallawell, who has written letters of recommendation for Kansoriwula to help him along his path to Purdue and Cummins, said Kansoriwula has embraced and taken advantage of every opportunity.
“He is a very humble young man, and he has a heart of gold,” Hallawell said. “He knows he has been given great opportunities, and he has not wasted them. He has thrived.”
As for his family in Ghana, Kansoriwula believes they are pleased with how his adventure has played out.
“I think they are very proud of me,” he said.
Fort Wayne Campus | Human Services Graduate
"Being at Ivy Tech, I was at the right place" Human services graduate heads local parole district
When Mia Kelsaw speaks, don’t be surprised if she calls you “honey.” She might use it to let you in on a little secret—“I tried karaoke three years ago, I finally did it, honey, and now I can’t stop”—or to let you know you’re dear to her, even if you’ve only met.
The verbal tick is one she uses often, especially in the latter way, in her current position as the parole district supervisor at Fort Wayne Parole District No. 2. Kelsaw is a 1998 Ivy Tech Community College Northeast alumna, a graduate of the Human Services program.
While she had found herself with a gift for working in corporate America, it didn’t drive her. So in August 1996, she enrolled in three classes at Ivy Tech Northeast. It didn’t take her long to realize she should attend full time if she wanted to get the most out of her education.
Kathryn Davis, the program chair for Human Services, says that often, people who are drawn to the human services field have some experience with a related incident. For Kelsaw, that related incident occurred simultaneously with her school work: She was in a serious relationship at the time, she says, with someone who had a substance abuse problem.
“I wrote most of my papers on this person,” she says. “This person was my case study. I got straight A’s. I believe being at Ivy Tech, I think I was at the right place at the right time.”
After graduating with an associate degree, Kelsaw received a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University Wisconsin, which then had a campus at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. The university accepted all of her Ivy Tech Northeast credits, so three weeks after Ivy Tech, she was back in school, enrolled in an accelerated program. She also has earned a master’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Today, Kelsaw supervises staff across 10 counties in northeast Indiana. While she technically works a 40-hour-a-week job, she is on call 24/7. Because when working in criminal justice, one can never know what might happen. Consider this occurrence from less than a week after Kelsaw returned from a six-week medical leave last year: A parole agent called Kelsaw to say a parolee had threatened his girlfriend’s life. Kelsaw filed for a protective warrant, which is not usually granted for threats. Due to previous instances of violence in the area, Kelsaw received the warrant. She spoke to the woman who had been threatened days later, and the woman had been granted a protective order. Kelsaw made plans to meet the woman at school that morning to get her a copy of the order.
By 8 a.m., however, the woman was dead. She had been on a bus on her way to school when her boyfriend pulled her off the bus and shot her. “It was one of the worst situations,” Kelsaw says. “It was overwhelming, and I really questioned if I should remain in this business. In 48 hours, this young woman’s dead.
“I can’t stop being helpful to people, but everyone won’t get it. If you positively affect one person, then he or she can positively affect one person.”
In addition to the parolees she works with, she is also the head of her church’s middle school and high school division. She takes the sermon delivered by Bill McGill at Imani Baptist Temple and presents it at a youthful level, McGill says. “We really expect her to be the go-to person for their spiritual and personal development,” says McGill, the temple’s senior pastor.
In addition to McGill, Kelsaw names her 92-year-old grandmother as one of her personal heroes.The two share a love of the blues—Kelsaw’s favorite song to sing at karaoke is Buddy Ace’s “It Don’t Hurt No More”—and they love to dance together. “I put on music, and that’s it,” she says. “When I’m having a bad day, I watch her shake a tail feather, and that’s it. She has an infectious spirit.”
But it’s Kelsaw’s faith that supplies her top hero. “When I get discouraged or criticized, Jesus is who keeps me going,” she says. Any degree of success she has achieved, “Honey, it’s only through the grace of God.”
There’s no question that Ashley Kidd is one accomplished young woman. As an Ivy Tech Community College graduate, she works as a registered nurse at Hendricks Pediatrics. She also is a skilled dancer and former Indianapolis Colts cheerleader.
Turning her dreams into reality, however, hasn’t been easy. When Ashley started college, she felt a little out of place.
“I went to a big school, and I felt I was a dollar sign,” Ashley says. “I didn’t feel like I got the education I needed to start my nursing career. I felt like I was never going to achieve my goals.”It was a step backwards, but Ashley was undaunted—as you might expect from someone used to getting a crowd of 67,000 football fans fired up. She gave college another chance, enrolling at Ivy Tech Community College.
“I started by taking some prerequisites at Ivy Tech, and it just felt right,” she says. “The faculty looked at me as a student, of course, but they considered my future, as well.”
When Ashley began her studies at Ivy Tech, she was living in a rural area, somewhat distant from any of the College’s campuses. Fortunately, Ivy Tech offered enough online classes that she was able to satisfy many prerequisites from the comfort of her home. After she was accepted into Ivy Tech’s nursing program, she was happy to travel to campus, given what she experienced.
“It was very progressive,” Ashley says. “I felt I was well prepared, not just by learning from a textbook, but with a lot of clinical, hands-on work.”
Ashley completed her nursing degree more quickly than she had expected and started her career shortly thereafter. Once again, she landed somewhere a little unexpected but ended up in exactly the right place—and it’s inspired her to even greater ambitions.
“I never thought I would end up in pediatrics, but I love it, and I can’t see myself anywhere else,” she states. “Now, I’d like to continue my education and get my bachelor’s and one day become nurse practitioner. Thanks to Ivy Tech, I have a lot of opportunities and choices for continuing my education and achieving those goals.”
Ashley plans to continue her BSN and Master’s programs at IUPUI to reach her ultimate goal of becoming a family nurse practitioner.
Indianapolis Campus | Human Services Graduate
“If you really want to do something, don’t let people discourage you. If it’s real to you, it can be to everyone too.”
With perseverance, anything is possible. Candace Malone is proof that if you put your mind to something, you can do anything.
In 2011, at the age of 41, Candace became familiar with Ivy Tech while preparing for her G.E.D. She loved her experience so much that she knew she wanted to come to Ivy Tech to earn her college degree.
“I loved the fact that Ivy Tech was a school that met the needs of the working adult and offered classes in the evenings. I had some of the best professors ever, that no matter how hard it got for me, they never let me give up on myself.”
At the beginning of her first year at Ivy Tech, she was not sure what she wanted to do. But by the end of the first year, Candace began to see a clear path for her future. With more than 20 years of sobriety, she wanted to pursue a career helping women with substance abuse issues.
Candace’s first step to achieve this goal was to obtain her associate degree in human services. Throughout her time at Ivy Tech, she loved how every course was a stepping stone for her future. Each of her professors always pushed her to do her best and never give up, which is something she says she will carry on with her.
In addition to her studies, Candace joined the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) in 2013 and was inducted into the group in 2014. She had not heard of the group until they reached out to her, which is something they do for students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Being a person who made the Dean’s List several semesters in a row, she was an ideal candidate for this group.
Through the NSLS, she was able to network with other students and professionals. The group helps members build on their resume, make connections and learn ways to enhance their career.
Candace will graduate from Ivy Tech in December 2016. She plans to take a few months off to spend time with her two grandchildren. From there, she will attend Indiana Wesleyan University for a bachelor’s degree in addictions counseling.
Long term, Candace hopes to open a house in Indianapolis for women with substance abuse issues. She will assist them with getting and staying sober, obtaining valuable job and interview skills, sharing parenting tips and providing stable transitional housing.
“I have a lot to offer these women and I just want to give back to the community,” she said. “Just because you make bad choices does not make you a bad person. I just want to share my experience with them so they know without a doubt that they and their children are worthy of all that this world has to offer—and to never forget: ‘excuses are just dressed up lies’.”
Now that Candace is another step closer to her long term goals, she hopes others pursue their dreams too.
“If you really want to do something, don’t let people discourage you,” she said. “Even if it seems silly, if it’s real to you, it can be to everyone too.”
Fort Wayne Campus | Agriculture Graduate
"Agriculture graduate sets sights on Anheuser-Busch farm"
Rebecca Marshall grew up around horses. Her grandfather has had them since before she was born. She grew up driving draft horses, and she interned last summer on a horse farm. When she was 8 or 9, she started showing them in 4-H, where she was a 10-year member. She still shows draft horses in county fairs and large shows.
Marshall has always known she wanted to study agriculture, so when Ivy Tech Community College Northeast began its Agriculture program in fall 2013, she signed up. She even wonders if she was the very first student to do so.
Marshall was one of seven students enrolled in the program when it kicked off two years ago. Last semester, she finished. In May, she will march during Commencement.
In the meantime, there’s that pesky business of finding a job.
And she found one she wants. Really, really wants. We’re talking dream-job levels of crossing the fingers and preparing a resume as perfect as possible.
She wants to work with the Budweiser Clydesdales.
You know the ones—they pull the sleigh in the holiday commercials and star in all of the Super
Through a job she worked during the summer, Marshall knew someone who might be able to hire her at his company.
“There were no openings, but he mentioned a place that’s always hiring,” Marshall says. “When he said the name, I almost dropped to the floor.”
He said Anheuser-Busch.
Photo courtesy: Jonathan Kratzer
“He gave me the contact info for the guy who operates the barns,” she says. “I’m putting my resume together and sending it out. It’s one of those jobs that you never really expect to get, but you have to see whether you’re capable of getting the job.”
If Marshall were to land the job, she might find herself traveling with the draft horses around the country. She might find herself in the breeding barn, working with and training the mares and foals.
What differentiates a draft horse from a riding horse is its size—a draft horse is larger. Also called a work horse, draft horses typically have a mild temperament and are used a lot by the Amish for plowing fields.
“They’re called the gentle giants,” Marshall says.
Kelli Krieder, the College’s agriculture chair, worked with Marshall on her resume and cover letter, helping her figure out how to best represent how her skills can contribute to the Anheuser-Busch farm.
“It is kind of a dream. I wouldn’t be shocked if she got an interview,” Kreider says, “but I wouldn’t be shocked if she didn’t, either. She’s definitely qualified. I know they would be more than pleased with her. She’s anyone’s dream for working on a farm. She’s amazing.”
Kreider calls Marshall hard-working, dependable, and trustworthy, the kind of student who goes above and beyond what is expected of her, and one who sets high standards for herself.
“She’s always the first volunteer any time we’re doing any kind of promotional event,” Kreider says. “Fort Wayne Farm Show. Promoting the Agriculture program around the community. If I can have all my students be half of the quality she is, oh man, my job would be the best job ever.”
If working with the draft horses doesn’t work out, Marshall does have a Plan B: Get into sales and marketing, working with equipment sales, seed sales, chemical sales.
Regardless of where she ends up, she’s always known she wanted to work in agriculture. Marshall graduated in 2011 from Central Noble High school in Albion, Ind. She began taking general education classes at Ivy Tech Northeast with the plan to transfer to Purdue University or IPFW to eventually complete a bachelor’s degree.
As she was preparing for her final semester before transfer, she noticed “Agriculture” in a dropdown menu on the Ivy Tech website.
“I clicked on it to see what it was, and they had two or three classes listed,” she says. “I signed up.”
Because she was one of the first, Marshall felt like she got to have a say in some of the program’s curriculum—she and her six peers were able to share ideas on what worked, what didn’t, which tests were too easy or too hard. She got to see the program get more supplies and more space, and she got to see it grow nearly 700 percent: from the original seven to 55 as of fall 2015.
“It was a learning experience for all of us, and it was a good one,” she says. “We ultimately had a lot of fun.”
East Chicago Campus | AS, Hospitality Administration Graduate, Baking and Pastry Arts, ‘14
For Jennie Miller, success means “happiness at home and work with a continued desire to grow.”
When she was younger Jennie dropped out of school and left home. After she had her son, Dorian, “I knew I needed to do more than just work,” so Jennie earned her GED and an associate degree in accounting. But cake decorating and baking were really her passions, so when her son was 14, she enrolled in Ivy Tech’s Baking and Pastry Arts program.
Ivy Tech provided the perfect way to balance her checkbook and her time. “I chose Ivy Tech partially for the cost, but mostly because it is the only pastry program in Northwest Indiana,” Jennie said. Being an adult student with a child, taking courses at the schools in Chicago was out of reach time-wise as well as financially for Jennie. Additionally, most of the Chicago programs are not degree programs.
“My education at Ivy Tech opened my eyes to many more aspects of the pastry industry outside of cake. This changed my career path from a desire to own a cake shop, to wanting to produce an array of pastry products. It has also streamlined a path to becoming a sous chef and eventually an executive pastry chef.”
Her academic experience also ignited in Jennie a desire to teach, so she returned to Ivy Tech as an adjunct faculty member, in addition to working as a pastry cook at the Horseshoe Hammond and owning Red Lotus Cake Design.
Indianapolis Campus | Hospitality Administration Graduate
“Ivy Tech has definitely taught me how to fight on, be brave, and to never give up on accomplishing the smallest challenges.”
After attempting college several times, Monica decided that Ivy Tech was the place where she wanted to achieve her degree. Studying Hospitality Administration, Monica pursued a degree with a concentration in Culinary Arts.
“I honestly picked Ivy Tech because it was local and affordable, and I was ready to make a change. I knew that it was the best option.” Once attending Ivy Tech, Monica felt that each of her professors encouraged her to learn and grow in her field. Her environment and the diversity among her fellow students and instructors also influenced her progress.
Monica graduated in May of 2016. “I came back to school to better myself and to gain in-depth knowledge of what it takes to be in the culinary industry.”
As of fall 2016, Monica is employed as the lab resource supervisor in the Hospitality department at Ivy Tech.
Despite her setbacks from previous college experiences, she is very proud of her success from her journey at Ivy Tech. She plans on returning to earn her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and becoming a culinary instructor in the future.
Evansville Campus | Human Services Graduate
Amy Mutz had a very bad year in 2012. She and her husband had decided to retire and close their sign shop in Haubstadt, IN, when three close family members all died during that year. It was a devastating blow, one that rocked her to her core – yet revealed in her a desire to help people. She went to a local Hospice organization and wanted to volunteer. As she worked there, she realized that this was not something she should be doing without a degree.
Amy had always had a strong fear of school. She didn’t read until she was a freshman in high school, suffering from dyslexia; and had a similar problem with math. So, walking into college to be tested was daunting. However, her desire to help people was greater – and she did it. As she pursued her desire to earn a degree in Human Services, it also awakened a desire to get a bachelor’s degree in Hospice social work and potentially a doctorate. She did everything she could to be successful in college, including logging nearly 80 hours in the math lab to make it thru her homework. She will graduate with a 3.98 GPA and is in Phi Theta Kappa.
In addition to her story of overcoming obstacles like dyslexia and the math equivalent of that to go back to college in her mid-50s -- she is realizing her dream of going on to get her bachelor's and is now enrolled at USI for next fall. She also has won a couple really amazing awards.
She was named All Academic USA Team...which put her in the running for the New Century Scholars Program, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation. She was one of only 1,900 in the nation to win this award. New Century Scholars are the highest scoring students in each state where Phi Theta Kappa is represented (national honor society, of which she is a member). She just got this award earlier this month. She received a $2,000 scholarship and certificate.
Richmond Campus | General Studies Graduate
Meet FearGod Victor Chinecherem (Chin-ĕ-chair-um) Okwubido (O-kū-bē-doe) Williams, a General Studies major. He arrived in Richmond, Indiana from Nigeria to begin his educational journey. He quickly adjusted to campus life and within a short time became the Vice President of the Multicultural Student Organization (MSO), a member of Student Government Association (SGA) and Campus Activities Board (CAB). He also became a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He completed his associate’s degree within four semesters, while simultaneously enrolled in courses at Indiana University East Richmond and maintained a 4.0 GPA. FearGod’s ultimate goal is to obtain his medical degree and return to Nigeria.
This is his story in his words.
“Once I started my Ivy Tech studies, the question from most easily became my cultural background and heritage. Every time I started a new class or met a person for the first time, I would get prodded with questions with one underlying denominator: whether or not I was from or around Richmond, Indiana. Once I say otherwise, the individuals, colleagues and instructors alike, would always want to know more; from the inquisitive who want to understand why I choose to be at Richmond, to the exotic, who want to know if I have seen elephants or lions, to the surprised, who desire to examine my thought process in travelling out of my country, as they say “just” for an education. In the first few months, it was a struggle in classrooms and conferences alike, as it seemed like all everyone cared about was how I spoke English well, or with an accent, or how I must miss home, amongst other numerous scenarios.
However, the more the questions churned out, the better I had to become in articulating responses that were as representative of me or my country, as they were correct. Today, I am known as FearGod to some; to others, it is the International student from Nigeria; to the rest, a human. I attest, I am all of these every day. Life as I perceive it has and will remain a lifelong learning process. My high school was a melting pot of some kind; the four-year hiatus before my first college class was the crucible; my home the drawing board; society at large, a people, and, most importantly, my education representing the platform to serve, follow, learn, and lead as a significant student. This understanding of the platform of my education was only made clearer as I studied at Ivy Tech.
On May 7, 2016, I graduated with an Associate’s Degree in General Studies, and I wholeheartedly know that for me, education has and will never been a one-time phenomenon. Ivy Tech to a large proportion represents truly what it means to have a solid college system that keeps one going forward as long as their visions stay clear. Every single one of the Ivy Tech staff – my professors, the learning resource and tutoring staff members, the advising and admission office members have left indelible marks on my life forever. I will never forget their names, and my story is never complete without according them honor.
As I assimilated into the program in the beginning and even as I climbed to new heights, I got help from every person all along the way. This will never be taken for granted, because just as Theodore Roosevelt expressed, Ivy Tech really helped me “keep my eyes on the stars, with my feet on the ground”. I am FearGod Okwubido-Williams. I am Ivy Tech now and always. My educational experiences here in the States have represented everything I had never really understood education to be.
Yes, in Nigeria, I knew I was part of a society, but the main focus was on a basic classroom education. Ivy Tech on the other hand, exemplifies the true purpose of an education of purpose and change. I leave there knowing that a model society is only made by the encompassing service inputs and otherwise from her students and schools.
At Ivy Tech, I have treaded the education sidewalks, carefully building my firm vision and foundation, patiently learning the roles of the solid framework - which is the school [as a necessity for society]. Importantly, boundaries on my basics and responsibilities as a student have been essentially eliminated by this education. Now, I move into the streets, which efficiently represent the educational juggernaut I am transferring to and the world I hope to impact, aspiring to be that student; studious, teachable, understanding, disciplined, exemplary, nurtured and transformed in every facet of life.
I want more than a Bachelor’s or even a PhD degree, for reason is not lost on me, that there remain children like me, who have stories to share, but may never have the opportunity to tell them. I could not have stood more with Malala, the proponent of the indisputable ideal that “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world.” I hope with the platform of my education, I can be the teacher with books and pens, empowering people to break free of the pain – psychological and otherwise, poverty and hopelessness that once engulfed my family and me. The power of a liberated future and hope to be heard all lie in the story. This is my story and every day, I remember I am truly lucky to have been given the mantle, the books, the pens and the teachers. I intend to pass these on to as many as I can reach.
Education has provided me with the steps to reach out, impact and inspire; here I am this day, vowing to climb those steps until the end.”
Fort Wayne Campus | Therapeutic Massage Graduate
The Pilates Author - Ivy Tech alumna pens Idiot’s Guide manual
Linda Paden, a 2004 and 2005 graduate of Ivy Tech Community College Northeast, has a clinical doctorate degree and now a book under her belt. Idiot’s Guide: Pilates came out late last year, and her Ivy Tech Northeast associate degrees helped her get to the point she needed to be considered an expert in the field.
In 2001, Paden began having difficulties while dancing en point in ballet, struggling with balance, flexibility, and strength. Her mother, then a therapeutic massage instructor at Ivy Tech Northeast, used massage to help. “That’s when I was like, ‘Hmm, Mom, there might be something to this.’ She was the one who gave me my first Pilates book,” Paden said.
The next year, Paden started her first classes at Ivy Tech Northeast as a dual credit student. She was a homeschooled high school student, and her mother was a teacher at the College. By 2003, Paden started training to be a Pilates instructor.
At 18, Paden graduated from high school and from the College, with a degree in general studies. She completed her teacher training and began teaching Pilates. “Pilates is really a passion of mine. It’s more than just an exercise regimen: It’s an entire philosophy of movement,” she stated.
Realizing the benefits of massage, Paden continued at Ivy Tech Northeast for another year and graduated with an associate degree in medical assisting with a specialty in therapeutic massage—before massage broke off into its own associate degree. “What I liked about Ivy Tech was I was in a learning environment with people of all ages—young college-age (students), returning adults. I felt that exposure was really good,” Paden said.
After studying at Ivy Tech, Paden received the College’s first Crossroads Scholarship, which provided her with a full-ride to Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies. She received a clinical doctorate at the University of Indianapolis in physical therapy.
By 2011, Paden started working at the National Institute for Fitness in Sport at IUPUI. There, she helped launch a fitness center at a retirement community. The institute knew her expertise from working with Paden. When the book’s publisher asked for author recommendations, the institute’s staff said, “We know your girl.” “The publisher came to me and asked me to send some writing samples. So I did and they asked me to write a book. I had written very big papers for my doctorate, (but) this is my first publication,” Paden says. Her book titled Idiot’s Guide: Pilates came out in 2014.
Indianapolis Campus | Hospitality Administration Graduate
Who knew someone with a background in corporate banking would go on to explore culinary arts, philanthropy and law school? All of these things would not be possible for Anna Powell had she not gotten her start at Ivy Tech Community College. Anna is a 2014 Ivy Tech graduate with an associate degree in Hospitality Administration. It all began when she found out her job was changing during the financial crisis in 2009. Her former employer gave her the choice to move to a location in Ohio or take a severance. Anna chose to stay in her area and take the severance, but after a year knew it wasn’t right for her. After weighing some options she chose to move to Indianapolis from her home in Vicksburg, Michigan.
After her move, Anna became involved with Dress for Success, a group that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, attire and development tools. During her time there, she attended a speaking session that talked about living your passion. She walked out knowing she had to accomplish her dream of going to culinary school. Anna then took Second Helpings’ 10-week culinary job training program and graduated in July 2011. She immediately started working as a sous chef at a downtown Indianapolis restaurant. Anna loved the job, but wanted even more—which is when she began to look further into culinary school. However, as a first generation student, she hadn’t thought culinary school could be possible, as she didn’t know about student loans or financial aid.
During her search, Anna knew some of the schools would leave her with over $40,000 in debt, which was not feasible for the type of job she would have after graduation. Between that and the opportunities available through Ivy Tech, she knew it was the right fit for her.
While she was in school, Anna appreciated all the help Ivy Tech offered. As a non-traditional student coming back, everything had changed since she had been in high school. Ivy Tech helped her with the transition, writing, tutoring and much more. She spent much of her time volunteering and was the American Culinary Federation student chapter president. Anna was also involved with Ivy Tech’s TRIO Student Support Services Program, which provides support to first-generation, low-income students and disabled students.
In addition, Anna took part in the Hospitality Administration’s annual trip to France. Students are chosen based on a point system that looks at grade point average, volunteer experience and more. She had never been overseas before and said it was a life changing experience for her. Once she got back, she realized the entire world was open to her and she could do anything she wanted.
Since graduating, Anna has become the chef and catering manager for Ivy Tech’s Courses Catering, which serves both internal and external clients. She was hired on as a student and the role progressed. Anna manages a small staff and catering team that prepares everything and handles events from start to finish. Courses Catering can have up to five events in a week so she meets with the staff to arrange them around their work, school and family schedules. She said loves how the students take charge and she can rely on them to help execute flawless events.
Her favorite part of the job? Pitching menus to clients. “I have a standardized menu that people can choose from but some people want me to create something for them,” she said. “I love making recipes, finding what they love and incorporating it into the event.” When it comes to memorable events, Anna is honored when someone asks them to cater their wedding.
“It is such a huge day in people’s lives and it’s so memorable.”
Clients love how she can be flexible and work with them on their menu. For one of the weddings she catered, the bride originally came to her because she heard she could have anything they wanted. When Anna asked what the couple enjoyed to eat, the bride responded that they really liked pizza. Anna immediately began to think how they could elevate pizza. She worked with her staff and they made delicious upscale pizzas and served them to each table on butler carts.
For those considering going back to school, and for those who want to eventually obtain a bachelor’s degree, Anna recommends those students choose Ivy Tech because of the great transfer opportunities.She also notes the affordability.
“You’re not going to leave with surmounting debt. Even if you came here for a couple years and then went to IUPUI, you would not leave with much debt,” she explained.
Anna’s goals do not stop with her time at Courses Catering. As of fall 2016, she is currently studying philanthropy at IUPUI’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. While she studies, she also has an internship with the Ivy Tech Foundation. Once she graduates, she plans on taking the LSAT and going to law school in 2017. “Ivy Tech opened doors for me,” Anna said. “When I was younger, I would take a job on salary. Now, it’s been the other way around and makes for a more joyful week. I enjoy what I do and I love being here.”
For more on Anna, check out the article "Indy chef to cook Thanksgiving feast at Standing Rock, " by Indianapolis news station WISH TV from Thanksgiving 2016.
Anna was also a recipient of the 2017 William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion. This award honors IUPUI graduates who have excelled in their commitment to the community through activities such as service learning, volunteerism, community and social issue advocacy and more. Learn more.
Indianapolis Campus | General Studies Graduate
“You have such an opportunity here; take advantage of it. Take one thing each day to be grateful for-- it will make your experience so much more enjoyable.”
Claire Raway came to Ivy Tech Community College as a better path to a four-year school.
At first, coming to Ivy Tech was culture shock for Claire. As someone from a small, private high school in Minnesota, the idea of college seemed like a lot to take in.
“I was overwhelmed by how many people there were and the idea of having to make new friends. I'm not very social, so it was intimidating. But I definitely learned a lot. And not just in the classroom learning.”
Over time, Claire began to make a smooth transition into Ivy Tech. She learned to work with her classmates and found things to enjoy in her coursework. During her second year, she joined the American Honors program at Ivy Tech, which is a competitive honor society that prepares students to transition to junior and senior-level coursework at four-year colleges.
“I learned that you get out what you put into a class. If you are invested and looking for things that interest you, then you can make any class you take fascinating.”
During her time at Ivy Tech, Claire worked at The Oaks Academy and Talbot's, and was an active participant in her church and in a Christian organization called the People of Praise.
Claire noted she was proud of the papers she wrote while at Ivy Tech, especially those for her art history and history courses, which are subjects she is passionate about.
“I love to explore the world, past and present and these papers allowed me to find something that fascinated me and tap into it.”
She plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in art history, with the ultimate goal of teaching at the high school or college level. In December 2016, Claire is graduating from Ivy Tech and plans to transfer to the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI.
Her advice to other students at Ivy Tech is this: “You have such an opportunity here; take advantage of it. Take one thing each day to be grateful for-- it will make your experience so much more enjoyable.”
Elkhart County Campus | AS, Liberal Arts Graduate '14 and BS, Workforce Education Development
“Going back to school really helped me to figure out what I wanted to do and who I was.”
Ernesto Rivas vividly recalls two of the toughest years in his life.
Rivas had high expectations in 2011 after opting to leave the Marines following 12-plus years in the military. However, the harsh reality of an unforgiving job market quickly crashed those aspirations and drastically altered life as he knew it.
“When I got out, I thought I was going to get a federal job with Homeland Security right away,” the 36-year-old said. “I didn’t know the process would take about a year or longer. About four months after I got out, I couldn’t afford to pay my mortgage.”
Rivas bought an RV thinking he could rent out his house to help make ends meet.
“It was only supposed to be for three months,” Rivas said. It ended up being two years.
The unfortunate downward spiral continued as Rivas reluctantly had to rely on government assistance to take care of his wife and young daughter while living in an RV on his in-laws’ property in California. It wasn’t until a life-changing meeting with a college advisor that the former Marine learned of the advantages of the GI bill.
A visit to Indiana brought Rivas to the doorsteps of Ivy Tech’s Elkhart County campus, where he would ultimately graduate from with an associate degree in 2014, despite enduring open-heart surgery at the tail end of his final semester. Rivas studied Liberal Arts and has also earned a bachelor’s degree.
“I had no skills,” said Rivas. “All I had were my experiences from the Marines. I could not find a job, but going back to school really helped me to figure out what I wanted to do and who I was.”
He currently serves as a veteran representative for WorkOne.
Indianapolis Campus | Computer and Networking Technology Graduate
After earning his degree in just 11 months, Tre Robinson landed a rewarding career in the in-demand IT industry.
Tre earned his degree from Ivy Tech’s Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP) in computer and networking technology in 2012. This cohort-based program provides wraparound support to students to help them earn a degree that traditionally takes two years or more in just one year.
“Right out of high school, a traditional four-year school didn’t seem like a realistic goal. Being able to get a degree quickly without debt was a great opportunity and I took it,” Tre said. “I believe the ASAP program gave me more of an advantage over a traditional college experience due to the one-on-one time I got with some of the instructors.”
Immediately after graduating from Ivy Tech, Tre was hired by Interactions LLC in 2012 as an analyst. As the company grew, he continued to take on more responsibility. In February 2016, Tre was promoted to system administrator for the company and is now responsible for managing, supporting and maintaining more than 600 systems.
“Ivy Tech introduced me to the IT field. When I jumped into the ASAP program I was able to see that I really enjoy this and I could do it as a career-- and that’s exactly what happened.” Tre is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in software development from Western Governor’s University, where he was able to transfer credits from Ivy Tech toward his degree.
“I want to continue to build up my skills in the IT industry; I need to step it up and learn some more stuff,” he said. “I enjoy troubleshooting; I like being the one to figure out what’s going on and be the one to fix it.”Tre serves as an alumni ambassador for Ivy Tech ASAP, speaking on behalf of the program and how it helped him get where he is today.
“(Ivy Tech) got me where I needed to be and it gave me the confidence to get into the workforce and just do what I’m good at, and I am forever grateful for that opportunity.”
Lawrence Campus | Health Information Technology Graduate
“I had a great experience at Ivy Tech.”
Sometimes having experience in a specific job is just not enough to be hired. Mari Ryhal found herself in this situation back in 2009. Laid off from her previous job, Mari was unable to find a position in her field of expertise without having a college degree.
After researching different programs at Ivy Tech, Mari decided to join the Health Information Technology program. Mari appreciated the low cost of Ivy Tech as well as the curriculum that she was taught.
Mari’s time at Ivy Tech ran very smoothly. Her biggest obstacle was navigating through the financial process. Luckily, the Ivy Tech staff was able to assist her with this. “Ivy Tech has knowledgeable staff to help through any process.”
The Ivy Tech staff was Mari’s favorite part of the college. “Registration staff, financial assistance, and the teachers were very informed and helpful. The teaching was geared to prepare students for the workplace.” Her dedicated teachers showed her what skills she would need in a future work environment. She took their advice on how to get her foot in the door where she intended to work.
While at Ivy Tech, Mari participated in an internship experience where she could show what she had learned.
Currently, Mari is an account coordinator at Major Hospital in Shelbyville, Indiana. This is where she held her internship position while attending Ivy Tech. She received three promotions since she started working there full time.
Her advice for other students’ success is to seek internship opportunities at businesses in which they are interested. In regards to education, she strongly considers attending a college like Ivy Tech to earn affordable credits.
“I feel that Ivy Tech gave me the education as well as the confidence to move into a career. I would recommend Ivy Tech to anyone seeking my advice.”
Warsaw Campus | Machine Tool Technology Graduate
“I came to Ivy Tech because I wanted to have some hands-on experience…"
Daniel Sailor is getting a head start on his success. A full-time high school student, Daniel is also a student in the Machine Tool Technology program at Ivy Tech’s Warsaw campus.
Like many other teens, Daniel’s priorities include excelling in school, participating in extracurriculars and spending time with friends. The 16-year-old does all of that, but he also has made his future career a priority. Interested in computer programming, robotics and mechanical engineering, Daniel already has set his sights on a career in the manufacturing field. And it’s Ivy Tech that is helping him accomplish that goal.
“From talking with engineers in the manufacturing field, some employers are looking for that understanding that comes with hands-on experience," Daniel said. "The classes at Ivy Tech are giving me that.”
Some engineering programs jump right into design without teaching the basics of machining, but it’s those fundamentals that drew Daniel to Ivy Tech. “Ivy Tech gives me an understanding of the basic processes that are at the heart of mechanical engineering, an area that traditional engineering schools don’t cover," he said.
The teen has already completed his first college-level course in machining and earned two National Institute of Metalworking Skills certificates. He plans to continue courses in machining and, to no surprise, pursue an engineering degree after high school.
Michigan City Campus | AS, Elementary Education Graduate and BS, Liberal Studies Graduate
“After all my education experience, Ivy Tech would still be my first choice!”
Candice Silvas defines success as “knowing you have done the absolute best you can do in your present circumstances.” That’s not only a philosophy for Candice, but also a way of life.
At 16 Candice had her first son, Bryon. For many students, becoming a teen parent might mean dropping out of high school, but that wasn’t the case for Candice. As a new, single mother, she enrolled in an alternative high school where Bryon could go to a day care center on-site. After graduation, Candice married and began working full-time. She and her husband, Ray, welcomed a daughter, Emily, and Candice stepped into the role of step-mom to Ray’s daughter, Kaitlyn. Struggling to support her growing family, Candice realized that a college degree could help her earn a higher wage. “I needed a college that would be cost effective, offer a flexible schedule, and have minimal travel time,” Candice says.
Ivy Tech was the perfect fit. “The course schedules were amazing; they offered a large array of class times…which were perfect for a working parent!” Candice says. Candice credits much of her initial success to Tony Thomas, Associate Director of Advising at the Michigan City campus. Tony helped Candice navigate financial aid, the enrollment process, and her placement exam results. “His passion was extremely evident,” Candice says. “He became my go-to guy for everything.” Tony made such an impression on Candice that she brought friends and family to enroll at Ivy Tech.
After completing her associate degree in Elementary Education, Candice transferred her courses seamlessly to Purdue North Central and earned her bachelor’s degree. She's now working on her MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University. Out of all her college experiences, Candice’s favorite is Ivy Tech. “The coursework is as rigorous as any other college, but the fantastic customer service and the feeling of belonging cannot be replicated anywhere else,” Candice says. “After all my education experience, Ivy Tech would still be my first choice!”
Candice now works for the Salvation Army of Michigan City as the Community Resource Coordinator and Director of Development. She also was recently elected to the Michigan City Common Council.
Columbus Campus | Fine Arts Graduate
After being accepted into several of her favorite art schools, Courtney Sinclair made the choice to come to Ivy Tech Community College. Deciding what school to choose wasn’t the easiest thing for Courtney, but she knew he didn’t want to go into a large amount debt while attending college. “Staying in Indiana and attending Ivy Tech provided me the ability to dream bigger.”
Courtney attended the Bloomington Campus to complete her pre-requisites, and then continued with the Visual Communications program at the Columbus Campus.
She says her favorite part about attending Ivy Tech Community College was the professors and other staff members. “They made sure we took every opportunity we had- from applying to scholarships, traveling abroad, and putting our work out into the world! They were all extremely helpful, and so experienced.” Courtney believes that they provided her an outstanding support system, one that she will be able to refer back to as her career develops.
While attending Ivy Tech Community College, Courtney was able to talk to other experienced artists in her field. She believes she learned many aspects from Ivy Tech Community College; not only the artistic part of her career, but also how to run her own business.
Courtney now owns her own photography business, and is currently a portrait and wedding photographer in Bloomington, Indiana. Courtney has had continued success as a business owner, and continues to make connections within her local community!
Indianapolis Campus | Human Services Graduate
Not only was Steve able to earn his degree in human services, become the president of Collegiate Veterans Association, and serve as a veteran in the Marine Corps. He helped found and name the Bear Necessities Food Pantry.
This Ivy Tech graduate was able to do it all.
Having a history of homelessness and addictions pushed Steve to help make a difference in others’ lives. In May 2015, Steve was certified in substance abuse counseling. Stout has always focused on working with those who are homeless and people who are hungry. “I can help homeless people get off the street, but if they are still in the addiction, they will go back to the street. I want to help them overcome their addictions.”
Eventually Steve would like to open a shelter to help homeless people. He wants to be able to provide information to homeless people and help them out of their situation, especially those with substance abuse.
Currently, Steve is pursuing an addictions counseling bachelor’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. He had an internship that led to part-time job at the Express Enrollment Center. All of his Ivy Tech credits transferred, and he will graduate in just two more years.
“Ivy Tech has given me the support. All the people here are very supportive of what I do. They give me connections to reach my goals. They have guided me. They have been very supportive in what I’m doing.”
Steve was awarded four different scholarships through becoming involved with school activities. “I tell students to get involved- it opens doors. When I graduated, I got a hug from the chancellor, not a handshake. That, to me, was much more meaningful.” His Ivy Tech education helped Steve to accomplish many of his goals in just a two year period. “My time here has been fantastic and the staff and faculty have been wonderful. I have participated in three panel builds for Habitat for Humanity and during my time here have earned the respect from the chancellor as well as other members of the school.”
Valparaiso Campus | Criminal Justice Graduate
"...Ivy Tech made it possible for me to afford school..."
Crack! Nick Sufana hit the ball straight up the middle towards the pitching mound where his dad stood. It was the last night of summer before Nick’s freshman year in high school and it was getting dark. Nick, his dad, and his three brothers had gone out to the baseball field near their home to practice batting. A storm was rolling in, and it quickly became too dark to see. Nick’s dad suffered a detached retina and fractured orbital bone when the ball made direct content with his eye. The injuries caused him to undergo a dozen surgeries, incur several thousands of dollars in medical bills, and permanently lose part of his vision.
To help at home after the accident, Nick worked two jobs. He gave every paycheck to his parents to help alleviate some of the financial burden his family now faced. When he wasn’t working or going to class, Nick helped care for his three younger brothers.
To continue helping his family after high school, Nick needed a college that was close to home. Living in Chesterton, the Valparaiso campus was just a short 15-minute drive. Nick found that Ivy Tech’s flexible class schedule allowed him to keep working and provide support for his family. Nick also needed classes that easily transferred so he could earn his bachelor’s degree. Ivy Tech’s transferable credits meant that he could save money on his first two years of college, while still working toward a four-year degree.
“Going to Ivy Tech for the first two years made a huge impact on my family’s financial situation,” Nick said. “I had to pay for my own tuition, books, and supplies, so going to Ivy Tech made it possible for me to afford school and help my parents cover bills and groceries. That meant that they didn’t have to work so many jobs and could spend more time at home with us.”
Nick earned his technical certificate and associate degree in Criminal Justice from Ivy Tech in December 2014.
He transferred to Valparaiso University where he is currently working toward a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management with a minor in Business Administration. Nick is also a member of the Valparaiso Police Department Volunteer in Police Services (VIPS) program and was recently selected to complete the Kouts Police Department 40-hour pre-basic training program. Nick’s goals include serving his community as a member of the local police and becoming a U.S. Marshal.
Major life changes are often unexpected. Despite the responsibility Nick feels for the accident, he knew he could continue to help his family by gaining independence and setting an example for his younger brothers. Ivy Tech helped Nick take the next step toward his career. What will a degree from Ivy Tech do for you?
Fort Wayne Campus | Aviation Maintenance Technology Graduate
Reaching New Heights - student trades computers for airplanes to embrace personal passion
Despite schooling, internships, and teaching opportunities to enter the computer science field, Satya Sunkavalli ultimately determined the path she had been following wasn’t the right one to achieve the career heights she truly desired.
Those heights are routinely 20,000 feet or more off the ground.
“Watching birds fly inspired me to think about the nature of flying and the traits of airplanes,” Sunkavalli says. “Being a pilot is very well respected in India, so over time I became interested in becoming one and also in building a small kit airplane.” Ivy Tech Community College Northeast is helping one of those passions take flight through its Aviation Maintenance Technology program, where Sunkavalli is earning an associate degree.
Sunkavalli came to the U.S. on a student visa in late 2010 with the intent to earn a pilot certification. She enrolled in a flight program at another institution in Indiana before personal obstacles prevented her from completing her studies in a 20-month timeframe, so she transferred to a comparable flight program in Florida with the hope of finishing in a shorter time period. Despite a solid performance on the oral portion of her practical test, she failed the flight portion.
“I was so discouraged and disappointed with myself,” Sunkavalli says. “But there are always challenges in life. You just can’t give up. Doing something a little different after this was a great way to regain my confidence.”
With that renewed spirit, she placed her pilot-training goal on hold and enrolled at Ivy Tech Northeast in early 2013 to study aviation from a mechanical perspective. She has experienced clear skies since the decision.
“I get to learn something new every day,” Sunkavalli says. “Every one of us in the program shares the same aspiration to work on airplanes, learn more about airplanes, and be a part of aviation.”
Aviation Maintenance Technology instructor Brad Stark has taught Sunkavalli in three of his classes to date, with course content ranging from aircraft fuel systems to sheet metal fabrication.
“She has a good grasp on what she’s learning in the moment, she tries hard to apply the principles, and she helps fellow students if they have questions,” Stark says.
Sunkavalli has made her participation and leadership presence known on campus in other ways. She is the newly elected vice president of the Student Government Association and is a member of the Campus Activities Board and the Multicultural Student Organization. Assistant Director of Diversity Affairs Diana Jackson is among her strongest supporters.
“Can I just say she’s an amazing person?” Jackson says. “Satya has been very aggressive in her studies and is currently carrying a 3.7 GPA. On a personal level, she is very kind, soft spoken, and cares a lot about people.”
Sunkavalli is also engaged in inspiring current and future aviators. She’s an advisor for the Aviation Explorer Post 2035 and the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles Youth Program, both based at Smith Field in Fort Wayne. Sunkavalli also takes pride in her association with the local chapter of The Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots founded by 99 licensed women pilots in 1929. Aviation icon Amelia Earhart served as the group’s first president.
Following her anticipated graduation next spring, Sunkavalli says she wants to persist with becoming a certified pilot and also be among the first to apply for work at GE Aviation’s new $100 million, next-generation jet engine assembly facility currently being built in Lafayette, Ind. GE Aviation spokespeople have said most new hires for the top jobs are expected to earn $36 per hour or nearly $75,000 a year.
“Working at a global company like GE would be a great networking opportunity and help me stay on course with aviation and everything I’m looking for in my career,” Sunkavalli says.
And her resilience in the face of an initial setback provides a new spin on what it means to aim high.
Indianapolis Campus | Accounting Major
“There is a stigma about community colleges, however I would argue that the level of education and help at Ivy Tech is equal in many ways.”
It may seem impossible to work full-time, father three children, and work toward finishing a degree, but Fawaz Tahir is currently succeeding in every one of these tasks at Ivy Tech Community College.
Due to his busy lifestyle, it is helpful for Tawaz that Ivy Tech offers many different courses to fit around his schedule. “Ivy Tech is both very flexible and affordable when it comes to allowing me to finish my degree. I have been able to go to classes both on campus and online between the demands of work and home life.”
Ivy Tech’s affordable tuition has aided Fawaz in remaining free of student loans.
During his time at Ivy Tech, Fawaz is grateful to have attended the Ivy Tech Dual Credit Champion’s Breakfast as a guest panelist. He has also attended several career fairs at Ivy Tech.
As of fall 2016, Fawaz is a store manager for Walgreens. He chose to attend Ivy Tech to expand his skills as an employee.
“Earning a degree is a great stepping stone for anyone looking to differentiate themselves in the working world.”
Indianapolis Campus | Human Services Graduate
Many people put off their education goals because they don’t think they have enough time. Gloria Turner is proof that anyone can make it work.
This mom of two (an 8-year-old and 18-month-old) has mastered the skill of full-time work and school, which is not an easy feat. But that isn’t all. While at Ivy Tech, Gloria was a Student Government Association senator and Vice President of Fellowship for Phi Theta Kappa. She was also Community Service Chair for the National Society of Leadership and Success.
Gloria is also involved in Women in Philanthropy and Project Grow. She is an Ivy Tech Bowen Scholar, 21st Century Scholar and is the 2016 title holder of Miss Indiana Plus. She plans to compete in the national pageant for Miss Plus America in July 2017.
How does she do it?
“I’ve been able to learn time management and juggle all those things,” Gloria explained.
Gloria was a non-traditional college student who graduated from high school at 26. As she was working toward her high school diploma, Gloria wasn’t sure if she could do it. She pushed herself anyway.
Throughout her journey, many people told her she would not be able to get her degree. She channeled that negativity and wanted to turn it into something positive. Gloria worked hard and finished her diploma in seven months. This was almost a year and a half quicker than expected.
Not only did Gloria graduate in a short amount of time, but she also graduated at the top of her class. This success opened doors for her. She wanted to come to Ivy Tech Community College to continue her studies. “Aside from the prices being affordable, I wanted to come here for the convenience and flexibility,” she said. “I am a predominately online student, but because of the class offerings and rigor of the classes, it’s almost like being in class.”
Gloria knows the same doors will open for other students too if they just try.
“I have been put in a position to take advantage of several opportunities, networking, meeting different people and leadership opportunities through various clubs,” she said. All her experiences have helped her build confidence for future endeavors. Gloria plans to transfer to a four-year institution and continue her education. This educational accomplishment is huge for Gloria, as she never had any plans to go to college. Now, education has become a large part of her life that she encourages her children to pursue, too.
Gloria's time in various clubs and organizations presented her with several scholarship opportunities. Gloria can use these scholarships to get a bachelor’s degree, debt-free. Once she obtains her bachelor’s degree, Gloria hopes to operate her own non-profit organization. This organization, which she called “ALERT,” stands for “Adult Learners Educated, Restored and Transformed.” She also hopes to work in the human services field as a life coach for an adult high school.
While she works towards her bachelor’s degree, Gloria has accepted a position as Community Chair for NSLS and was awarded their $3000 scholarship. She also earned the National Engaged Leader Award.
For those who aren’t sure they can achieve their goals, Gloria wants them to know they can. Through meeting other students like her and learning to manage her time well, she knows anyone can do it.
South Bend Campus | Liberal Arts Graduate
Jose was selected to participate in Ivy Tech’s Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP) where he could complete coursework at an advanced pace. He earned his associate degree in Liberal Arts in just one year!
Jose’s passion for learning and helping people led him to explore a career in Medical Assisting at the Elkhart Area Career Center during his senior year at Goshen High School. While there, Jose participated in Ivy Tech’s dual credit program and earned certifications in phlebotomy, electrocardiography, CPR, and first aid.
Those same passions led him to volunteer as a Spanish-English interpreter in his community. Jose earned another certification, this time in interpreting, and discovered his interest in international business.
After graduation, Jose transferred to Trine University where he’s working toward his bachelor’s degree in international business. Could your passion lead you to a great career?
Try, try again - Alumnus wins New Venture Competition the second time around
Look at Morgan Williams, and it’s hard to miss his ring. It’s huge, and it’s something he wears with pride—you can just tell.
In 2009, when Williams played wide receiver at Trine University, he and his team, which went undefeated, won the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Conference Championship. The ring commemorates that win, that dedication, that success.
As a high school football player, Williams says, the recruiting process was stressful.“It was all put on my shoulders,” Williams says. “I had to get my own information to colleges. I figured if there was a company that could do that for an athlete that was in my situation, it would give parents and athletes piece of mind.”
Thus, Elite Performance Scouting was born. Last month, Williams presented his business to 50-plus community judges, who voted him the winner of the New Venture Competition at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast. Williams’ prize: $35,000 in capital funds. 2015 marks the second time Williams entered the competition. He lost in 2013. “That’s kind of what made me strive to dig deeper into what it takes to be a business owner and to make EPS what it is today,” he says.
How EPS works
Williams attended high school in Georgia and trained with Blast Training and its owner, Steve Putman, a college and NFL trainer. However, the company did not market athletes to colleges.
“I spent 60 percent of my time playing and the other 40 percent trying to get myself a scholarship,” he says. “My senior year in high school was extremely stressful during recruiting, but I did end up getting offers. I figured if there was a company that could have done that for me, that would have made a world of difference.”
Elite Performance Scouting offers training, recruiting, marketing, and more. Camps and combines serve as evaluation days. High school and college coaches can attend and measure athletes based on timed drills. Elite Performance Scouting will record those times and compile them with highlights from the current season and an athlete’s grades to make a professional portfolio, which the company will send to schools across the country. Williams also manages a database of online player profiles, which college coaches can access for free, at epscouting.com.
One of the first things Williams plans to do with his winnings is purchase new camera equipment to better capture athletes in action. He also plans to reach out to Fort Wayne Community Schools Career Academy at Anthis, where he is on the advisory board of the IT department, to find a student who would like to intern with Elite Performance Scouting.
Eventually, Williams plans to expand Elite Performance Scouting beyond football: He wants to offer his company’s services to athletes in softball, baseball, basketball, and soccer. When the expansion starts, he will use his New Venture funds to help get the word out.
Thus far, Williams’ greatest success with an athlete is Fort Wayne North Side High School graduate Randon Moore.
“He was the only athlete I had in the summer of 2012,” Williams says. “He had no offers leading into his senior year, and we put together some impressive tapes for him. At the end of his senior year, he had eight offers. He chose to sign with Nebraska–Kearney.”
Today, Williams works with 12 seniors, and he won’t know their futures until National Signing Day on Feb. 3, 2016, which is the last day a high school senior can sign a National Letter of Intent to play college football with an NCAA school. However, colleges have expressed interest in his players; The University of Michigan, University of Illinois, University of Iowa, Miami (Ohio) University, Trine University, and University of Saint Francis have all expressed interest in at least one of Williams’ athletes.
In Williams, athletes will find not just a trainer, but something of a mentor. “I’m in college right now thanks to Morgan because he sent out film and helped me perfect my craft,” says Moore, who is studying sports management at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and plays cornerback. “He showed me how to better myself and be a better person on and off the field. I call him my big brother.”
Indianapolis Campus | Business Administration Graduate
“Always believe in yourself that you can do it. It is never too late to get your degree.”
Ivy Tech graduate Emily Weldon-Willis is proof that it is never too late to get back in school. Ivy Tech graduate Emily made the decision to go back to school at the age of 55 after her children graduated from high school. Her goal was to finish her degree in order to advance in her profession. Obtaining a college degree was necessary for her in order to accomplish that.
Emily felt that Ivy Tech was a perfect fit since it offered many different class times that worked around her full-time job. Flexibility was a crucial aspect of college that Emily was looking for. She favored Ivy Tech because it has a small campus feel and offers both online and in class sessions.
During her time at Ivy Tech Community College, Emily was faced with a few obstacles. Classes that consisted of labs were hardest for her, but she was able to overcome her challenges and achieved an A in all of those classes.
Emily was proud to make the Dean’s List at Ivy Tech. She was also able to join the Kappa Beta Delta Honor Society. Throughout her experience at Ivy Tech, Emily was a member of the America Business Women’s Association.
Moving forward, Emily plans on furthering her education. “I would like to go on for my bachelor’s degree and move up and beyond in my business.” She wants to earn her bachelor’s in finance in order to work in the field of federal payroll or accounting.
As of 2016, Emily works full-time as an administrative assistant for a local office in the government.
Fort Wayne Campus | Construction Technology Graduate
Going With the Grain - Student excels at construction studies, career goals despite physical challenge
With his hard hat and tool belt in tow, Joshua Willman is on the road by 4 a.m. most mornings. His nearly 15-hour days in ideal weather can take him as far as the Toledo suburbs, where he works in residential construction.
The Fort Wayne native’s demanding routine between work and school isn’t typical for the average Ivy Tech Community College Northeast student, but then again, he isn’t the average student.
Willman was born profoundly deaf to hearing parents. Since childhood, he has worked to develop his proficiency at lip-reading and has worn standard hearing aids to help him gain a sense of sound and practice his voice. His parents opted not to pursue surgically invasive cochlear implants for him. Coincidentally, his upbringing included relationships with two cousins who are also deaf.
Willman developed his occupational interest in construction once he learned members of his extended family work in the field, particularly his uncle. “I used to sit back and watch how he built houses. I became interested in what he was doing and thought I’d like to build my own house someday,” says Willman, through American Sign Language interpreter Kathy Gomez.
Beginning with his junior year, Willman split his academic studies between Snider High School and Anthis Career Center’s Construction Trades program.Through Anthis, Willman gained carpentry skills and helped frame two houses during his first- and second-year course work. His Anthis teachers were also responsible for introducing their students to Ivy Tech Northeast’s Building Construction Management and Construction Technology programs, where students had the opportunity to earn associate degrees and certificates in the skilled trade they enjoyed.
Willman followed the tip and enrolled at the College as a construction technology major during fall semester 2013, and he took an immediate liking to blueprint reading.
“It’s a complex challenge,” Willman says. “You really have to look at something to understand it, how to read it, and then match it up with measurements.” Construction technology instructor Jonathan Keck has been impressed by Willman’s willingness to accept challenges.
“Josh was always enthusiastic and animated in class,” Keck says. “Josh was very focused on the tasks and is willing to put in the effort to accomplish goals.”Willman’s achievements also garnered the attention of Jonas Miller, owner of New Haven, Ind.-based J & M Miller Construction LLC, which specializes in residential construction and repairs. Miller is a family friend who heard about Willman’s experience at Anthis, prompting him to offer Willman a job as a general laborer last May. “He has kept improving his carpentry skills,” Miller says. “He is becoming a great framer and roofer.”
Willman’s job performance continued to ascend and, two months later, Miller promoted Willman to safety inspector once he secured his general industry training certification from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
And Willman has had no reservations about doing what’s necessary to keep his three work crews safe.“I’ll sign, ‘Get your safety glasses on. Get your hat on. Where are your boots? Where are your gloves?’” says Willman, who shares that he also consults safety signs and safety literature when warranted. Co-workers are encouraged to gesture and speak slowly in return. Willman says he prefers to write out complex directions, even if that means conveying the information on two-by-fours used in framing homes.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, Willman received another surprise appointment from Miller—a promotion to succeed him as senior foreman effective immediately, which will mean overseeing as many as 30 crew members in warmer months.
“It’s proven to be a really big responsibility to run the crews, do paperwork, read blueprints, and sign documents on the owner’s behalf,” Willman says.
But this opportunity is a fitting venture for Willman, who says he wants to become a licensed general contractor and a business owner in 10 to 15 years, thus proving his future is under construction in more ways than one.
Indianapolis Campus | Mechanical Engineering Technology Graduate
Michael Wilson was chosen to represent his classmates during President Obama’s visit for many reasons.
During his time at Ivy Tech Community College, Michael Wilson was involved in the Bowen Scholars program, Collegiate 100 and 100 Black Men of Indianapolis. He now studies Mechanical Engineering Technology at IUPUI and has successfully developed mobile apps, one of which is being funded by Purdue University.
When he first came to Ivy Tech, Michael was very shy and kept to himself. In 2014, after losing his mother to heart disease, he began to have a major transformation in his attitude toward school. He applied to the Bowen Scholars Program, where he learned to become a leader. In 2015, Michael represented Ivy Tech as student ambassador and was able to meet President Barack Obama during his visit to campus. Michael got involved in community projects and organizations, including Collegiate 100 and 100 Black Men of Indianapolis. He also had an internship with AeroFab, a division of Tube Processing Corp.
Michael graduated from Ivy Tech with his Associate of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology in 2015. He was hired by Johnson Controls Inc. upon graduation, where he is still employed today. He is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology at IUPUI and plans to graduate in May 2017. Michael also works for IUPUI as a Mechanical Designer for the Campus Facility Services and volunteers with Circle Up Indy and the Bloom Project, Inc.
In 2015 Michael was named one of WFYI's American Graduate Champions. He co-founded the Collegiate 100 at IUPUI and serves as president of the organization. Michael has successfully developed mobile apps and online modules for educational purposes. He recently received a grant from the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology to research and develop an augmented reality app that improves the process and efficiency of engineering practices, which is not beta testing.
“I believe that Ivy Tech is where I really found my way to my passions and ambitions. I was surrounded by people who encouraged me every day, reassuring me that I had the ability to reach the goals I spoke about. I always think about how different my life may have been if I did not come to Ivy Tech. I would have never met the counselors, mentors, and even instructors, all who went the extra mile just to make sure I had everything I needed to succeed."
General Studies | Franklin Campus
High school graduates are often unsure what they want to pursue for their career, which was the case for Grant Young. He knew he wanted to find something he loved, which drew him to Ivy Tech. As a student pursuing options, Grant felt Ivy Tech was the right choice because of the school’s low tuition rates.
Grant started taking classes and chose to work toward an associate degree in general studies. This would allow him to find his calling then transfer to a four-year school.
"It made me well-rouned,” he said about his time at Ivy Tech. “I’m glad I came for general studies, took general classes and learned a lot. I learned techniques, studying tools, etc. It makes you more personable and helps you come out of your shell.”
Grant has no problems coming out of his shell and always keeps busy. In addition to being a full-time student, he also works in catering, referees a variety of sports for the Amateur Athletic Union and has also been doing stand-up comedy.
Once he graduates from Ivy Tech in December 2016, he plans to keep a busy schedule.
Grant is set to transfer to Purdue University, where he has been accepted in the school’s Aviation and Transportation Technology program. He would love to be able to continue his education once he graduates from Purdue and become a LifeLine helicopter pilot. In addition, he plans on minoring in fashion design and would like to start a clothing line for military amputees.
Born with radial dysplasia, a congenital difference where one of his arms is shorter than the other, Grant spent the early years of his at Riley Hospital. In total, he had nine surgeries.
“That’s why I’m minoring in fashion, because the clothing idea is great,” he said, adding his line will include athletic and winter gear.
Grant remembered how excited he was when he had a custom fit tuxedo for his senior prom that fit his arms. He didn’t have to keep pulling the sleeve up and noted it’s the small things that make such a difference in a person’s life.
For students unsure about college, Grant recommends people think about it and consider how affordable Ivy Tech is.
“It helps you transition to a bigger school if you want to, but you don’t have to. You can get an associate,” he said. “You can open up other doors that you wouldn’t have otherwise. It gives you options.”
Ivy Tech also helped Grant grow and network. He said he noticed how so many students have begun their college years shy and over the years so many have come out of their shell. As an outgoing person, he tries to help other people develop too.
Today, Grant loves walking up and down the hallways of the Franklin campus and saying hi to everyone. From students to faculty, he is familiar with them all. He jokes about coming back years down the road and sitting in on an old class.
Fort Wayne Campus | Automotive Technology Graduate
Alumnus accelerates his career through Tesla Motors
A lifelong interest in fast cars and the culture that embraces them has helped Colin Zimmer shift his career into high gear.
The Ivy Tech Community College Northeast graduate is an automotive technician with Tesla Motors, the California-based automaker that designs and builds 100 percent electric cars. These cars have a driving range longer than 270 miles per charge and feature “instant torque, incredible power, and zero emissions,” according to the company’s website.
A Fort Wayne native, Zimmer says his road to employment with Tesla was the result of a detour suggested by an aunt who lives in Las Vegas. She asked him his opinion on the relatively new automaker, based on his automotive knowledge, and whether its cars were legitimately hot or mere hype.
“During the talk, I remember asking her, ‘Do I want to test drive a $130,000 car with your name signed on the release? Of course I do,’” Zimmer says. She concluded the discussion by extending an invitation for her nephew to join her in Las Vegas to visit an area Tesla dealer. On-site, Zimmer learned about the all-electric technology and even toured the facility. He says his experience was transformative.
“I remember walking through that service center and being astounded by how clean it was, how happy everyone was, how simple the cars are, in theory,” he says. “That was that. I asked, ‘When is there going to be an opening, and what do I have to do?’”
Within a few weeks an entry-level service assistant position became available. Zimmer went through three months of interviews to secure the position. Just shy of a year later—and following additional interviews—he was promoted to an automotive technician role. He was initially based in Las Vegas, commuting regularly to Salt Lake City to provide diagnostic services for Tesla owners in the region. In spring 2015, Tesla opened a service center in Salt Lake City. Zimmer relocated to this service center and has seen his growth opportunities expand, from training new hires to ensuring that operations meet Tesla’s protocol to traveling to Europe for special campaigns.
“I can potentially see myself being with Tesla as a lifelong career,” Zimmer says. “Obviously, there are many different positions I could hold within the company, but foremost, I believe in what we're doing."