May 8, 2013

Ivy Tech-Bloomington to celebrate graduates at May 17 commencement 

Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus will host commencement on Friday, May 17 at 6 p.m. in the Indiana University Auditorium.

“Commencement is the culminating event for our graduates and their families, and for the faculty and staff,” said Chancellor John Whikehart. “Ivy Tech takes pride in the accomplishments of our students, who have made sacrifices to achieve their educational goals. We look forward to celebrating with them.”

Ivy Tech-Bloomington is awarding 809 associate degrees, certificates and technical certificates at commencement this year. The number of students graduating with honors is 158, with seven students earning Summa Cum Laude honors for maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

The commencement address will be given by Daniel Stec, Associate of Science in Nursing graduate. He was a member of Campus Activities Board, Student Leadership Academy, Student Government Association, and worked as student staffer. Stec was civically engaged at Ivy Tech-Bloomington, in the community, and beyond our borders. He served as area representative for the International Student Exchange program, attended the college’s Alternative Spring Break program to Mexico in 2011, and has helped to raise money for Homeward Bound.

During the ceremony, Ivy Tech-Bloomington will recognize the region’s 2013 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, Elizabeth Dreyer, CPA, CGMA. Dreyer is Vice President, Controller, and Chief Accounting Officer at Hillenbrand, Inc. She graduated from Ivy Tech in 1982 with an associate degree in accounting, and continued on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in 1993.

Some of the graduates who will be celebrated at the ceremony include international students, transfer students, military veterans, 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 six international students from Taiwan, Japan, China, Vietnam, New Guinea, and Columbia.

The campus will confer degrees to 34 veterans and 1 student with Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). The TAA Act was implemented to assist trade-affected workers who 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 and 26 Practical Nursing degrees will be awarded, and those nurses will be pinned during the ceremony.

There are 63 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 27 programs of study choose students to receive this award. Outstanding Student award recipients include:

Biotechnology – Erin Bond Crain

Engineering Technology – Tonya DeFord

Accounting – Judith Thompson

Business Administration – Ashley Barker Delp

Computer Information Systems – Sarah Bruce

Computer Information Technology – Greg Platt

Office Administration – Jessica Kuehner

Early Childhood Education – Serenity Guthrie

Education – Erin Steury

Health Care Support – Hollyn Fowler

Health Information Technology – Emily Messmacher

Kinesiology – Vivian Newforth

Paramedic Science – Jason Chinn

Radiation Therapy – Stacy Hall

Respiratory Care – Elizabeth James

General Studies – Jonathan Holland

Liberal Arts – Emily Musgrave

Nursing – Julia DeOliveira and Michelle Usrey

Practical Nursing – Elizabeth Leveque

Criminal Justice – Theodore Miles

Hospitality Administration – Laura Crone

Paralegal Studies – Melanie Griffith

Public Safety Technology – Ronald Neibel, Jr.

Design Technology – Dale Webb

Energy Technology – William Harold VanHorn

Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning Technology – Timothy Welch

Industrial Technology – Kevin Craig

To commemorate the college’s 50-year anniversary in 2013, Ivy Tech plans to award honorary degrees to more than 50 individuals statewide. Select recipients of Ivy Tech-Bloomington’s honorary associate degrees include Former State Senator Vi Simpson, Former Indiana First Lady Judy O’Bannon, Indiana Legend George Taliaferro, and Judge Viola Taliaferro.

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.



As one of Indiana’s most effective and respected leaders, former State Senator Vi Simpson, has spent a career fighting for causes that matter most to Hoosiers. First elected to the Senate in 1984, she was elected Democrat Leader by the Senate Democratic Caucus in 2008. In her time in the Senate, Simpson has worked to make health care more affordable and accessible for Indiana residents, led the fight to restructure the state’s economy to become globally competitive, and has been a tireless advocate for improving Indiana’s public schools and universities. Widely recognized as an expert on the state’s finances, Simpson served as the caucus representative on the State Budget Committee from 1998-2007. She was the first woman to serve and lead this committee.

Former Indiana First Lady (1997-2003), Judy O’Bannon, has spent much of her life as a proponent of strengthening communities in Indiana and around the world. She is host of the Emmy-winning, WFYI-TV produced, television series Communities Building Community. She travels abroad on humanitarian missions that she incorporates into her television series Judy O’Bannon’s Foreign Exchange, which looks at the commonality of community development efforts worldwide. She has served in a variety of leadership roles: on the Executive Board of Directors of Indiana Landmarks, the chairwoman for the Indiana Main Street Council, as trustee of the Indiana State Museum, a member of the Indiana Arts Commission, a founding member of the Advisory Board of Silvercrest Children’s Development Center, and chair of the Old Centrum Foundation.

George Taliaferro, as the leading rusher and All-American at Indiana University, led the football program to their only undefeated Big Ten Conference Championship. As three-time All-American, Taliaferro was inducted into the College Football Hall Of Fame in 1981. Taliaferro was the first African-American drafted into the National Football League, picked up by the Chicago Bears, but had already committed to play instead with the L.A. Dons of the All-American Football Conference in 1949. He moved to the NFL in 1950. In 1970, he returned to IU to work as a special assistant to President John Ryan, to develop a university-wide affirmative action plan. Taliaferro, a true Indiana legend, is active in numerous community organizations in his home of 35 years, Bloomington.

Judge Viola Taliaferro retired from a career as a circuit-court judge specializing in juvenile justice. She was the first African-American to serve as a judge in Monroe County. Taliaferro has has lived in Bloomington the last 35 years. She is active in numerous community organizations. Judge Taliaferro has served on the board of directors of the Bloomington and Monroe County Community Foundation for the past five years and has also served as president of the board for one year. Taliaferro earned a national reputation because of her integrity and constant commitment to excellence, traits she continued to exhibit as juvenile justice consultant to Attorney General Janet Reno and a member of the National Research Council on Juvenile Justice.

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

*Graduate success stories

Jenny Abaunza-Jaramillo, 32
International Student
Associate of Applied Science in Business AdministrationMagna Cum Laude

Jenny is an international student from Columbia, and has been living in Bloomington with her husband, also from Columbia, since January 2008. She wanted to improve her education, and Ivy Tech Community College provided her the right choice in expanding her educational experiences in the United States. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business from a Columbian University.

She started her degree in business administration in Spring semester 2011, and had a goal of keeping an excellent academic record. She is finishing her program with a 3.8 GPA.

She has been awarded several scholarships: the Kay Brock International Scholarship, the Ralph Voelkel Scholarship, the Mike Carroll Memorial Scholarship and the Bloomington Rotary Club Scholarship.

Her family is traveling to attend commencement and to see Ivy Tech Community College for the first time. She said it will be a proud and special moment for her.

Jonathon Holland, 26
Transfer Student
Associate of General StudiesMagna Cum Laude

Jonathon came to Ivy Tech after having dropped out of Indiana University because of financial difficulties. He chose Ivy Tech because he could afford to take classes and pay for it out of pocket, even while working minimum wage at fast food. The low cost allowed him to take classes and rehabilitate a defaulted federal loan, so he could become eligible to receive financial aid.

Jonathon also came to Ivy Tech “with shattered confidence, a criminal record, and little to no hope.” He was recovering from addiction and trying to bounce back from a felony conviction. Jonathon didn’t know if he could afford it, would fit it, or even succeed here. The classes at Ivy Tech helped him to learn practical knowledge to help him both deal with his troubled past, work toward the future, and help others in the process.

He has been involved in the Creative Writing Club, and has edited the Ivy Tech literary magazine. He writes for Ivy Voice, the student newspaper and works as English tutor in the Academic Support Center. He has been an active volunteer with several nonprofit agencies: New Leaf on Life, Amethyst House, Stepping Stones, Youth Bureau, and is working with others to develop a new organization called Bloomington Arts for All.

He received Ivy Tech-Bloomington’s Jeanine C. Rae Humanitarian Award for his volunteer work with at-risk populations, including people struggling with addiction recovery and those re-entering society after incarceration. He taught weekly writing workshops at the Recovery Engagement Center, and as a champion for Ivy Tech, he helped many individuals to apply and register for classes at Ivy Tech. He was also named Ivy Tech-Bloomington’s Newman Civic Fellow.

Jonathon plans to transfer his degree to Indiana University and pursue a bachelor’s degree in English, with a concentration in creative writing.

Bobbie Olivo, 41
Military Veteran – Air Force
Technical Certificate (spring grad) Computer Information SystemsAssociate of Applied Science (summer grad) Computer Information Systems
Magna Cum Laude

Bobbie joined the United States Air Force after high school, during the first Gulf War. After eight years of distinguished service and being awarded two Achievement Medals and one Commendation Medal, she left the Air Force and joined the workforce, where she quickly realized the importance of higher education…but was afraid of college. Through the experience of caring for her terminally ill mother for five years, she had developed the courage to overcome her fears and go to college. Bobbie found out about Ivy Tech through Internet research, and decided it was the place for her to start her educational journey. She had been out of school for 20 years, and began classes at age 39.

She has served as the Executive Officer of the Student Veteran Organization, and as the Vice President of Communications and Regional Ambassador of Phi Theta Kappa Alpha Rho Sigma Chapter.

Bobbie volunteered at Relay for Life, and created and taught Microsoft Office courses at Becky’s Place Women’s Shelter, for which she was awarded “Most Outstanding Honors in Action Project.” She was an active volunteer at campus events throughout her educational journey, including Welcome Week, Veterans Day, and Ivy Tech-Bloomington’s 10-Year Building Anniversary rededication. Additionally, she was a key contributor in winning a Military Family Research Institute grant for the campus Student Veterans Organization.

She credits her husband Troy with her educational success, because without his support she would not have gotten through both the struggles of her mother’s illness and her academic journey.

Bobbie plans to gain work experience as an intern at Cook Polymer over the summer.

Andy Kyger, 34
Non-Traditional StudentAssociate of Applied Science, Computer Information Technology
Cum Laude

Andy Kyger was raised in Shoals, Ind. and has lived in Bloomington for 12 years. His biggest obstacle before coming to Ivy Tech was his feeling of inadequacy and depression due to a demotion at work and subsequent loss of his home and car. His motto he learned from his parents when he was young, “No matter what, don’t give up.” Andy’s mother went back to school at the age of 41, because she would not give up, even though she had to overcome obstacles to meet her educational goal. This was an important lesson for him. He knew he couldn’t let the obstacles before him stand in his way of achieving what he knew he could – going back to school.

Andy has served in various student offices during his time at Ivy Tech-Bloomington, including President of the Student Government Association. His parents are here today to witness Andy receive his diploma, which is his proudest moment of his educational journey. Another proud achievement for Andy was his representation of the entire Ivy Tech student body as member of the President’s Council. The Council presented and asked the State Board of Trustees to increase the student life budget for all campuses. The Board agreed, and Andy sees this accomplishment as an opportunity for even more students to experience growth, gain leadership training, and have travel opportunities like he did. He is proud to have left this footprint.

He intends to study Public Affairs at Indiana University, and to continue to work for the benefit of his community.

Yi Jin, 31
International Student
Associate of Science in NursingMagna Cum Laude

Yi Jin is an international student from China who has overcome enormous obstacles in her educational journey. She has lived in Bloomington since 2007, when she came here with her husband who was a PhD student at Indiana University. After living as a homemaker for a few years, she decided to pursue a degree in nursing at Ivy Tech. She chose this profession because of her desire to help patients and because of her interest in the medical field.

Yi encountered difficulties in her studies due to language and cultural barriers. During the first few weeks, she could barely understand her instructor’s words in class, and felt they were just speaking too fast. So, with permission, she began to record lectures and listened to them over and over again. Yi rented American movies with English subtitles to improve her listening ability. During her second semester of studies, Yi could communicate in class and with instructors fluently.

Yi’s husband returned to China after completing his degree two years ago. As an international student finishing her degree at Ivy Tech-Bloomington, she has been homesick and lonely without her husband.  She overcame this sadness by dedicating herself to her studies and is graduating with honors tonight. Additionally, she has received a job offer from a local nursing home and plans to begin work when she passes her board exam in June. Yi plans to gain work experience in the American medical field before she returns to China for a family reunion and to continue her education. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s and then a master’s degree in nursing.

Her ultimate career goal is to become a nurse educator in China, who introduces American nursing practices and principles to Chinese students to broaden their knowledge and to promote international nursing communication.

Ronald E. Neibel Jr., 34
First-Generation College StudentAssociate of Applied Science in Public Safety
Outstanding Student Award Recipient
Cum Laude

Ronald entered the workforce as a full time employee after high school because he needed to earn a living, but has always had a life goal to complete a college degree. His family struggled financially. His parents did not earn high school diplomas, but worked hard to provide for their family through the years, without any assistance. With a lack of family education and lack of knowledge on how to access higher education, individuals would often tell Ronald he would never amount to anything. This was one of the biggest obstacles he had to overcome.

Since his mother taught him to never give up on himself, Ronald, decided to change careers and become involved with public safety. Once he was settled and working in a great career field, he jumped at the first opportunity to continue his education, and Ivy Tech made that possible.

Ronald is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and volunteers as a fire fighter for the Gosport Volunteer Fire Department. He is employed at the City of Bloomington Fire Department Headquarters, Station 1 as Firefighter/Engineer.

He has a great and supportive family; wife Jamie, daughter Natasha, and they are currently expecting another addition to their family. His sister is Tabetha with children Dakota and Kaylynn. His mother Ella and father Ronald Sr. have been married 35 years. His proudest moment will be for his family to see him graduate with his degree in hand.

Ronald is looking into options for continuing his education, and hopes that his degree and any additional education in public safety will help him acquire promotions in the future.

Judith Thompson, 54
Career Change/Re-trainingAssociate of Science in Accounting
Outstanding Student Award Recipient
Magna Cum Laude

Judith lost her job in 2009 and could not find other employment, so she decided to go back to school. She had been out of school since 1977 and was terrified, but when she took the placement test, she did well enough that she was able to begin her degree courses right away. She earned a 4.0 her first semester, so all doubt in her ability to achieve her educational goal was cast aside. A couple of the biggest challenges for Judith was that she was not as up-to-date with technology as some of her peers, and also had a part-time job while studying for her degree. She was determined to graduate in two years, so this past semester she took 17 credit hours, and is still graduating with honors.

Judith lives in Martinsville and is 54 years old. She has a son and a granddaughter. She is active in her church and with Relay for Life.

Judith plans to seek employment, but is currently thinking about studying for her bachelor’s degree part time.

Jolie Wright, 20
Transfer Student
Associate of Science in Liberal Arts

Jolie’s proudest moment during her educational journey was realizing her goals. She came to Ivy Tech afraid of making the wrong decision to settle down in one single career and stick with it. Having such a diverse group of peers at Ivy Tech-Bloomington, she was able to share in the experiences of other students and their career fields and choices. The flexibility of Ivy Tech made it possible for her to work while she went to school and experiment with different career fields on her own. She feels that if she had gone to college and lived in the dorms right out of high school with no other life experiences, she might not ever have found her calling.

Jolie’s calling is directing her to Indiana University to get her bachelor’s degree in Special Education. She wishes to work with children diagnosed with Autism and intellectual disabilities.

Lisa Calkins, 46
Non-Traditional Student
Technical Certificate Accounting, Certificate in Payroll
Magna Cum Laude

Lisa had the pleasure of being a stay-at-home-mother to her three children for 12 years. In 2006, she re-entered the workforce part-time, and within one year, she was working full-time outside of the home again. In 2010, with the encouragement of her employer, she went back to school. She began one class, Intro to Microcomputers. In this class, her instructor explained that it was never too late to pursue a dream and get a degree. With that, Lisa decided to enroll part-time at Ivy Tech, while maintaining her full-time job.

Lisa’s mother died last year, so can’t be here today to see her graduate, but she was able to attend Lisa’s induction into Phi Theta Kappa, for which she is so thankful.  One of the obstacles Lisa had to overcome on her educational journey was the guilt of feeling like she wasn’t able to be there as much for her mother when she was sick. But her mother was understanding of Lisa’s dream to pursue an education, while also raising a family and keeping a full-time job. Studying at Ivy Tech was healing for Lisa after her mother’s death.

Her family has been her biggest cheerleader – her daughter is graduating high school this year with honors and is going off to college in the fall. Her son is a sophomore in high school and is the entertainment in her family. Her youngest daughter is in middle school.

Her family has made sacrifices during Lisa’s educational journey. With her leaving the house at 7:30 each morning, returning at 9 or 10 p.m. each night, the family has had to become self-sufficient without mom. Her youngest is now a whiz at microwaving meals and her other daughter is “laundry goddess”. Her husband has become a very successful Mr. Mom and amazing discount shopper. Lisa has had to miss a few football games, field trips and honors programs.

Lisa thinks that some may think it’s silly for her to walk in the graduation ceremony for certificates, but she is setting an example for her children. She needs this celebration of accomplishment as motivation to keep going.

Lisa was on the dean’s list multiple semesters and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

She plans to continue her education toward an Associate of Applied Science in Accounting, and is on track to finish her degree by 2015.

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.