Commencement ceremony at Ivy Tech Community College offers many success stories

By Abby Tonsing
331-4245 | atonsing@heraldt.com
May 18, 2013

Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington awarded 824 associate degrees, certificates and technical certificates at commencement Friday evening at the Indiana University Auditorium.

Each graduate had a moment in the spotlight.

Names, degrees and honors were read aloud as the graduates crossed the stage, shook hands and received their degrees.

Tassels were moved from the right side of caps to the left.

Nursing graduates received pins and recited a pledge to all in attendance.

Ivy Tech College President Thomas Snyder charged the graduating class with three additional tasks:

Tell their compelling stories. “You can say, ‘I did this, so can you.’”

Be a coach. “It’s time to pay it forward.”

And wear Ivy Tech. Literally and figuratively.

“Be visible. Be in the community. Tell people what you’ve done. Be Ivy Tech,” Snyder said.

Bobbie Olivo wore her Ivy Tech accomplishments in white lettering atop her black cap — an associate degree, a grade point average of 3.8 and plans to continue her education at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Olivo, who moved to Indiana three years ago, received an associate of applied sciences in computer information systems. She decided to attend Ivy Tech because the college embraced older, nontraditional students, like herself.

Two years ago, she started out as a “scared to death” 39-year-old freshman. Since then, she conquered her fears.

“I’ve successfully completed something I’ve always wanted to do,” Olivo said before the ceremony. She’s also earned magna cum laude honors.

She changed the direction of her life, which commencement speaker Daniel Stec instructed his fellow graduates to do.

“Without direction, an open door is just a hole in the wall,” Stec, who received an associate of science degree in nursing, said to his classmates.

“Go out and proudly tell people you are an alumni, and following the direction of greatness. Stand up. Find your direction. And change the world.”

It is the unique story and circumstance of each Ivy Tech student that makes the college a great institution, he said.

Tiffany Hayes pointed to her two children — 14-year-old Michael and 8-year-old Justin — as her inspirations to attend Ivy Tech, while working there full time. She wanted to better herself and the lives of her children, she said of taking classes and receiving an associate degree in paralegal studies.

By Friday evening, William Fletcher, 29, had received two associate degrees in the past two years. Last year, he did not attend graduation to receive his degree in general studies. But Friday, he donned a cap and gown to receive his degree in computer information technology.

“It’s kind of the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said of graduation evening, adding it was just one of several to-do boxes to check off his list. Next up, attending Indiana Wesleyan University.

Also among those in attendance for Ivy Tech’s graduation were international students from six different countries, military veterans, students graduating with a variety of honors and five of Ivy Tech’s own employees, including Hayes.

Hayes was mentioned by name by Chancellor John Whikehart during the ceremony as he also honored military veterans and first-generation college students, among others.

The ceremony not only marked a special occasion for Ivy Tech graduates, but celebrated the 50th anniversary of the college and 10th anniversary of the school in its current site at the Connie and Steve Ferguson Academic Building.

Award recipients

Each commencement ceremony, Ivy Tech-Bloomington recognizes students for outstanding academic achievements. Academic program chairs in 27 programs of study choose students to receive this award.

Award recipients include: accounting, Judith Thompson; biotechnology, Erin Bond Crain; business administration, Ashley Barker Delp; computer information systems, Sarah Bruce; computer information technology, Greg Platt; criminal justice, Theodore Miles; design technology, Dale Webb; early childhood education, Serenity Guthrie; education, Erin Steury; energy technology, William Harold VanHorn; engineering technology, Tonya DeFord; general studies, Jonathan Holland; health care support, Hollyn Fowler; health information technology, Emily Messmacher; heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology, Timothy Welch; hospitality administration, Laura Crone; industrial technology, Kevin Craig; kinesiology, Vivian Newforth; liberal arts, Emily Musgrave; nursing, Julia DeOliveira and Michelle Usrey; office administration, Jessica Kuehner; paralegal studies, Melanie Griffith; paramedic science, Jason Chinn; practical nursing, Elizabeth Leveque; public safety technology, Ronald Neibel Jr.; radiation therapy, Stacy Hall; and respiratory care, Elizabeth James.

Sarah Miles waits under a tree outside the IU Aditorium for rain to stop Friday before graduating with an Associate of Science in Nursing from Ivy Tech. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

Ivy Tech graduate Lauren Ritz, right, hugs Ivy Tech School of Nursing dean Pam Thompson after receiving her nursing pin at commencement ceremonies Friday. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

Amber Weyrich, who was getting an Associate Degree in Radiation Therapy, shields herself from the rain before entering the IU Auditorium to graduate from Ivy Tech-Bloomington on Friday. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

Bobbie Olivo

Tiffany Hayes

William Fletcher

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2013


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.