Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington student Jeffery “L.J.” Gearhart II has been named the 2014 Student of the Year by the American Council on Education (ACE). The Student of the Year Award is presented annually by ACE to an individual who has benefited academically or professionally from the use of ACE credit recommendations for workforce training. Gearhart accepted his award and a $500 scholarship at the American Council on Education’s 97th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on Monday, March 16.

The thought of continuing his education after high school had never crossed Gearhart’s mind until he met with an Ivy Tech advisor and learned about the partnership between Ivy Tech and McDonald’s Management Development Program (Hamburger University). The partnership allows McDonald’s restaurant and mid-management employees to transfer up to 21 credit hours of courses taken at Hamburger University and apply them toward an associate degree at Ivy Tech.

Gearhart transferred credits he obtained going through the Management Development Program to Ivy Tech-Bloomington where he earned his Technical Certificate in Business Administration in December 2014. Gearhart has continued to benefit from McDonald’s tuition reimbursement program and will receive his certificate in Human Resource Management in May and his Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration in August. He has accomplished all of this while working 45-50 hours per week as the General Manager of the McDonald’s restaurant on West 3rd Street where he also teaches Shift Management Excellence Courses for Bloomington McDonald’s restaurants.

“A lot of people just think of working at McDonald’s as a ‘McJob’ but it really can turn into a ‘McCareer.’ Working at McDonald’s is a great way to grow personally and professionally,” Gearhart said. He plans to work at McDonald’s for as long as possible, hoping to eventually become a training consultant at the regional level.

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.