May 3, 2012

Ivy Tech-Bloomington commencement ceremony to take place next Friday at IU Auditorium

Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus commencement ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 11 at the Indiana University Auditorium.

Approximately 673 students are completing their education by earning associate degrees, technical certificates, and certificates. The number of students graduating with honors is 191, with 25 students earning Summa Cum Laude honors for maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

The commencement address will be given by Dr. Gerardo Gonzalez, University Dean of Indiana University’s School of Education. Chancellor John Whikehart will present Dr. Gonzalez with an honorary Associate of Science degree for College and Community Service from Ivy Tech.

“Dr. Gonzalez is a Miami-Dade Community College graduate, a Cuban immigrant, and a model of persistence and success for all community college students,” said Ivy Tech-Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart.” “He was instrumental in shepherding Ivy Tech’s system-wide education degree articulation with IU, has been an involved and visible community volunteer in Bloomington, and was appointed in 2012 by the Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, Brian C. Bosma, to the Indiana Commission for Hispanic/Latino Affairs.”

Some of the graduates who will be celebrated at the ceremony include international students, transfer students, military veterans, a mother and son, students seeking retraining, and those who have acquired employment because of their education and training at Ivy Tech.

Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus is graduating two international students –from South Korea and from Dominican Republic.

Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus will confer degrees to 38 veterans and 3 students with Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). The TAA Act was implemented to assist trade-affected workers who have lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or shifts in production out of the United States.

Approximately 74 Associate of Science in nursing degrees will be awarded, and those nurses will be pinned during the ceremony.

There are 64 graduates who are members of Phi Theta Kappa international honor society. Phi Theta Kappa honor society recognizes and encourages scholarship through leadership and academic excellence among two-year college students.

Each commencement ceremony, Ivy Tech-Bloomington recognizes students for outstanding academic achievements. Academic program chairs in 25 programs of study choose students to receive this award. Outstanding Student award recipients include:

Tom Powell

Erin Couch

Business Administration
Andriya Nichole Hardy

Computer Information Systems
Re’Nardo Ellay Williams

Computer Information Technology
Jeffrey Fields

Office Administration
Joni M. Bennett

Early Childhood Education
Mary Margaret Houston Demes
Erica Lynn Fesler

Carrie Robbins

General Studies
Brandon Paul McGuire

Liberal Arts
Jessica Lynn Kirkman

Health Care Support
Mary Katherine Miller

Health Information Technology
Clara Kallner

Paramedic Science
Diana Soots

Radiation Therapy
Jocelyn Bower

Respiratory Care
J. Michael Wathen

Practical Nursing
Tony Mosora

Melissa Messmer
Sarah Stewart

Criminal Justice
Andrew Michael Bradley Dwyer

Hospitality Administration
Emily Melton

Paralegal Studies
James Alexander Maniakas

Public Safety
Kenneth Hinkle

Design Technology
Edwin John Lewis

Electronics & Computer Technology
Vincent Edwards Summer

Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning
Paul Hudson

Industrial Technology
Justin C. Luthe

Ivy Tech Community College is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system serving nearly 200,000 students annually. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.


All media are invited and encouraged to attend commencement and interview students.

*Graduate success stories

Rosalie Wilkerson (65 Years Old)

Technical Certificate, Business Administration, Cum Laude

When I first mentioned going back to school to my son he said he thought that was great. That is when I first started seriously thinking about it. Some of my friends were not as supportive. Since I was 64 years old they did not see the point. I have 4 children and all of them graduated from college. I married right out of high school and started a family. At that time in my life that was what I wanted to do.

I always wondered what it was like to go to college. I love computers and learning. So many of my friends do not even own a computer or want to learn about them. The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was my own fear. I was an average student in High School and math was a problem for me. I did not take Algebra and I was afraid of the compass test. I did not do well on that part of the test so I took beginning Algebra and after just two weeks of the course I passed the compass test.

Learning how to study and do homework was hard in the beginning. I had been out of school for over 40 years. The best class that helped me adjust was IVY 120. I received the highest grade in the class. Last semester I made the Dean’s List, and I cannot describe how that accomplishment made me feel. I did not once do that in High School. I have had to make sure and devote myself to studying and getting homework done.

Learning how to use Excel, Word, Access and Power Point has helped me in my personal life as well. I have been trying to write a book on being an Identical Twin. The English classes I have taken has been invaluable to me, they were my favorite classes. Reading and literature have always been my strong points as my compass test proved.

One of the best things about going back to school was being able to be around my younger classmates. I have learned so much about the younger generation and how smart they are. Their technical abilities astound me. They are up to date on what is going on in the world, much more than I was at their age. They are also open-minded to change and want to help make the world a better place to live. There are so many issues facing them that my generation did not have.

I will receive my Technical Degree this summer in Business and HR at age 65. HR has always been of interest to me and I intend to pursue a degree in it. My family is very proud of what I have accomplished so far.

Re’Nardo Ellay Williams (Non-traditional student, transfer to IU [Kelley School of Business hopeful], honors grad, wife/2 kids)

Associate of Applied Science, Computer Information Systems, Summa Cum Laude, Outstanding Student award recipient

My decision to attend Ivy Tech was a process that started more than three years ago when I traveled to Indiana to spend my holiday season with my wife’s family. My new father-in-law showed me the Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington campus.

I continued my current job, as a creative director for a glamour fashion magazine later to realize the continued downfall of our economy. My wife and I just recently had our first son and I knew that a decision needed to be made about my career.  We decided to move from Tampa, Florida, so I could pursue an Associate Degree in Computer Information Systems at Ivy Tech Community College. The first person I met was an advisor, Elizabeth Lyon; she assisted in my academic planning and demonstrated complete support in me as a non-traditional student. I never forget her words “you are going to be a great success story, I look forward to you graduating”. The excitement to get my degree was like no other feeling I had felt in a very long time. Upon acceptance to Ivy Tech, I began to feel like a young college student, ready to conquer the world of higher education.

I was chosen to be on the Campus Activities Board (CAB) for the 2010-2011 academic year. Being a part of this student organization gave me the opportunity to meet and help other students. The huge success of CAB brought forth other opportunities to join other organizations like Student Government Association (SGA). At the end of the Spring 2011, I was elected as Student Body President 2011-2012.

I am proud to say that I have been selected to the ALL-STATE Academic Team and received scholarships from Bloomington Rotary Club, Old National Bank and Bloomington General. I will graduate from Ivy Tech Community College with an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems. My plans are to continue my education for a Bachelor’s at Indiana University, Kelley School of Business. I will be a full-time college student while also being a stay-at-home Dad. My family is very important in this process to accomplish my educational goals because without their support I would not be unable to complete.

The pursuit of a college education is a choice and not everyone commits to the challenge. Those who build life-long relationships by networking, getting involved in school organizations and pursue academic planning with your advisors will have the educational experience of a lifetime. When a person asks me about my college experience, I love to say from the bottom of my heart, Ivy Tech saved my life!

Adina K. Love (Worked at GE)

Associate of Science, Nursing, Cum Laude

I started going to Ivy Tech Community College in May of 2004 while still working at General Electric as an assembler.  I began taking classes because GE had already laid off several people, including my husband, in the previous years and I knew it would probably happen to me eventually.  I started off by taking English, Math, and many other prerequisite classes that I needed before I could actually pick what I wanted to do.

I didn’t know at first what I wanted to get a degree in but after becoming a volunteer with Hospice, I realized that I wanted to be a nurse.  I had always felt like something was missing in my life while I worked at GE but I assumed that I would be there until I retired.  I was laid off in September 2009 and I began getting help through the unemployment office such as unemployment wages and services to accommodate my schooling interests.  My tuition and books have all been paid for.

I was fortunate to be approved for the nursing degree through the state even though I wasn’t accepted in the Nursing program yet.  General Electric called me back to work in May 2010 and I declined – to move onto the career that I had always dreamed of.  Ivy Tech has been a great college because there is so much diversity with age groups and cultures.  I almost forget that I am going to college.

I ended up getting selected into the RN program and I am about to graduate this May.  I feel very blessed because I have made many lifetime friends and many memories.  I still have contact with several people that I met at Ivy Tech.  The RN program has been one of the hardest things that I have done in my life but it is also one of the best experiences and I wouldn’t change any of it.

When I walk across that stage at graduation, I will be thinking of my dad who passed away two months after I started at Ivy Tech.  He is a big reason why I enjoy taking care of people because he was always taking care of me and others.  I know God has blessed me and I can’t wait to be able to bless the people that I take care of.  I will enjoy having the chance at a career and I appreciate the Ivy Tech nursing instructors who have been so supportive and encouraging.

Kelsey Kirk (Military Veteran) MALE Student

Associate of Science, Respiratory Care, Magna Cum Laude

I graduated from high school in 1995.  After high school, I went to IU for a semester.  I ran out of money and didn’t have the guidance I needed on financial aid and loans, so I joined the workforce and barely scraped by.  I joined the Army after Sept. 11, 2001 and chose to be combat medic.  I deployed to Iraq for a year during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  In January of 2006, I was honorably discharged from the Army because my enlistment was over and I decided to join the civilian workforce again.  I found several good jobs. I managed a group home for the developmentally disabled, located underground utilities, and was a service representative for a home medical company. I was not happy and worked from sun up to way past sun down just to pick what bills to pay now and what would have to wait. Something had to give. I knew that I was eligible for the GI Bill, but didn’t know how to use it.

I chose to go to Ivy Tech because it was affordable and it had a Respiratory Care program.  I spoke with the Veteran’s advisor, Kim, who told me all about the Post 9/11 GI Bill; that would pay my tuition, provide me funds for books and give me a housing allowance.  This helped me to become a full time student and work part time so that I could reach my goal of becoming a Respiratory Therapist sooner.

I have been a student at Ivy Tech since the fall semester of 2009.  I will graduate on May 11, 2012 with an Associates of Science Degree in Respiratory Care. By going to Ivy Tech I have become a better person from all the knowledge and experiences I have gained and from all the people (fellow students, professors, teachers, advisors, and counselors) that have touched my life along the way.  I now have a student position at a local hospital and I am interviewing for positions at two other facilities for after I graduate.  The future sure looks bright.

Stephanie Deckard (Non-traditional student)
Associate of Applied Science, Hospitality Administration, Cum Laude

I started my college career 3 years ago just before my 40th birthday, as a first generation college student. My oldest son was graduating high school and I had always expected both of my sons to attend college. It wasn’t anything that was really talked about, it was just expected. When my oldest son began talking about not going to college, I felt it was unfair of me to put college expectations on him when I had never placed them upon myself.  After all, I work for the school system in special education and know how important and precious education is.  I just never thought of it as being something for me.

School had always been hard for me.  In high school, there was never a day that I didn’t struggle.  I began to think that maybe I could change that! To set a positive example for my children, I enrolled with my oldest son at Ivy Tech. I was really excited to find out that there was a culinary program on the Bloomington campus.  I couldn’t wait to get started o n my educational journey.

Working and going to school full time while taking care of my family has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. In high school, I was a C average student no matter how hard I studied.  After starting at Ivy Tech I found enjoyment in learning and have been able to achieve honor roll status. It has been hard work and many long hours have been put in between my full time job and school, but it has been worth every second. I have gone from being a shy person with very low self-esteem to a strong, independent, confident person.  Chef Delay has helped me along the way by pushing me in a positive way.  There were times that I would get very frustrated with him, but I eventually began to realize that he was only pushing me to help me achieve the potential that he could already see in me. He has been a true mentor.

This past summer I became a first time grandmother and our family struggled as my grandson fought for his life at Riley Children’s Hospital. During this time, the thought of quitting school came very easily. My grandson is an amazing fighter and I wanted him, along with my family, to see me succeed. He’s almost a year old, is in perfect health and will be watching his Nana graduate from college. Something I feared would not happen.

The support of my family and friends has helped me to achieve my goals at Ivy Tech.  This experience has taught me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. I am determined to succeed. If I could encourage a future student, I would tell them to hold on and expect the most unexpected ride of your life! You’ll learn more about yourself than any subject could teach you – that’s the best learning experience of all.

Jeffery Fields (Re-training due to Visteon Closure, Phi Theta Kappa member, Dean’s list, completing internship at Morgan County Hospital, American Red Cross Volunteer)

Associate of Applied Science, Computer Information Technology, Outstanding Student honors, Cum Laude

After working at a good paying, great benefits job, from which I fully expected to retire some day, suddenly I was out of work for the first time in over 22 years!  I worked at Visteon and they closed their doors in 2008.  I applied for unemployment benefits, of course. Then I started weighing my options.  Do I only search for new employment or do I take advantage of the opportunity to go back to school?  I had always been interested in computers and actually knew a lot about them.  I decided my best option was to go to Ivy Tech and learn even more about Information Technology, which I believe is a booming field.

I have enjoyed my time at Ivy Tech and have learned a lot, being on the Dean’s List each and every semester.  I will be graduating Cum Laude and belong to Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.  I have also been honored to be named “Information Technology Outstanding Student,” and I am currently working an Internship at Morgan County Hospital in Martinsville.

I feel the Ivy Tech experience has been very rewarding, not only from the educational standpoint but also the friendships with students and teachers alike.  My success story will be complete when I obtain a job in Information Technology that is challenging and well paying.  If I am unable to secure such a position, I may return to school and change my focus to Information Security, which I believe is definitely an up and coming field.  I would highly recommend Ivy Tech to anyone looking to further their education, it is a life changing experience!

Rachael Rosso (Military Veteran, Transfer student to IUPUI for Chemistry, Faced head-on collision injuries and attended school while in rehabilitation, completed two degrees in 3 years)

Associate of Science, Liberal Arts – Chemistry Concentration

Associate of Arts, General Studies

I was hit head-on January 28, 2012. I was trapped in my vehicle and had to be cut out with use of the Jaws of Life. I sustained severe injuries. Due to the injuries I had to undergo cervical spinal fusion surgery. My life and that of my family was dramatically affected by this. I had to work even harder than usual to maintain my set goals. I was unable to work my security job during this time and had major challenges facing me in regards to completing my schooling this semester. I am married for ten years, and have two young children, a daughter age of seven, and a son age of eight. It was very difficult to be deprived of the ability to do normal everyday activities with my children and family. However, I was lucky to have an abundance of support from my family, friends, co-workers, and the faculty and staff members at Ivy Tech. Everyone supported me by either a word of encouragement to helping me by typing my papers as I recited them out loud. This was a very large load both physically and emotionally to bear alone, but I found that when I needed help everyone was there with their hearts and hands to lend whatever time or help needed to me.

I made the firm decision that I would not allow myself to be defeated by what had happened, and due to my choice I found that those around me were happy and exceptional at going the extra mile in supporting my decision with their willingness to help, and support me. I am currently in recovery and becoming stronger each and every day. I have gained an even greater sense of respect and appreciation for my family, friends, co-workers and all the great staff and faculty at Ivy Tech.

I was the Executive officer of the Student Veterans Organization for the 2011-2012 year. I have participated in the Memorial Day Poster contest and won, I have also done many volunteer things on campus through my time in the SVO with CAB and volunteered reading names of fallen soldiers on Veteran’s Day.

I have worked part-time throughout my entire time at Ivy Tech except for the few months this semester due to the accident injuriesI will have completed both degrees in less than 3 years.

Heather Gabbard (Non-traditional student)

Associate of Applied Science, Early Childhood Education

Heather chose to attend Ivy Tech to create a better life for her and her children. She has a husband, two kids and step-daughter. She has been offered employment at Headstart but will be applying at the Early Learning Center at Eastern Greene. She has received funding as a child of a disabled veteran. Heather has volunteered at American Red Cross. She received a technical certificate along her journey to her Associate of Applied Science degree.  She worked full time for two years while putting both her and her son through school. There were times she wanted to give up and her husband and family encouraged her to keep going. She especially wanted to give up when she had her daughter last year, but made herself keep going. If it wasn’t for the support and love from her family, she says she probably wouldn’t be seeing graduation day. She just kept positive, and telling herself “I can do it.”

Matthew Sterling (Traditional student, honors student in high school and at Ivy Tech, gained employment with degree)

Associate of Applied Science, Computer Information Technology, Magna Cum Laude

Honors graduate, Matt Sterling, has accepted a networking position with Helix Technologies in French Lick.  From wireless to servers and Internet service providers, he will be using his talent in an environment with comprehensive technologies, more than just computers.

Matt graduated with honors from Bloomington High School South.

He will be leaving our campus Computer Technology Services Department with the highest regards upon graduation.

Stefany Terrell (Traditional student, plans to transfer to IU – Kelley School of Business hopeful for International Business and Marketing)

Associate of Applied Science, Computer Information Systems, Cum Laude

I am a traditional student, age 21. I started shortly after graduating high school. I chose Ivy Tech because I am paying out of pocket and it seemed like a good way to get the most for my money, I can get a degree that will quickly put me in the job market while also earning credits that transfer to a university for my Bachelors degree. I plan on attending Ivy Tech for a couple more semesters to earn some more credits to transfer to IU.

I worked full time for the first 2 years at Ivy Tech and then for the past year decided to drop down to part time to focus on my major specific classes but was highly involved around campus but it did take me 3 years to complete my degree.

Member of Student Ambassador program, Student Leadership Academy, and Student Event Staffers. Volunteered for O’Bannon Day of Service and Ivy Tech Day of Service.

Earned Deans and Chancellors List Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2011.



About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.