The Herald-Times
Posted: Editorial Staff

Clarence and Elizabeth Stratton have the same dream: to open a bed and breakfast together.

But first, the husband and wife will go through commencement together at Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus.

The two are among the Ivy Tech students who will receive 1,254 associate degrees and certificates Friday at 6 p.m. in the Indiana University Auditorium. Their stories are two of precisely 1,254 success stories the college can claim. Each one is a little different, but all resulted in someone reaching a goal.

Clarence Stratton, 36, dropped out of high school but decided he should seek his GED, which he did at the Broadview Adult Education Center. He then attended Ivy Tech and will receive his associate degree and a technical certificate in hospitality administration in culinary arts, a certificate as a Certified Pastry Culinarian and a certificate in hospitality management.

Elizabeth Stratton, 28, made the dean’s list nearly every semester since she enrolled in Ivy Tech in 2012. She will receive an associate degree and technical certificate in business administration, and a certificate in human resource management. She’s not finished with her Ivy Tech education, though. She says in a news release from the college that she’ll be back in the fall to pursue a degree in accounting.

As the Strattons illustrate, Ivy Tech caters to nontraditional college students as well as students who jump straight from high school to the community college. Twenty-three military veterans will go through commencement, for example. Many graduates are parents. Some wanted to change careers. One of the graduates, Mary Baker, is a 59-year-old night custodian who was encouraged by a faculty member to take some classes. She’ll be taking home an associate degree in general studies.

The college also will present an honorary degree to Lee J. Marchant, who has a long list of voluntary and development credits with the community college — enough to have an Ivy Tech building named after him. He’s a long-time member of the Ivy Tech state board of trustees and along with his wife, Annie, has established two endowed nursing scholarships that have provided 55 financial awards to students in nursing. He’s also made large donations to the campus.

He certainly has been a part of Ivy Tech’s success in Bloomington, as have many administrators and members of the faculty and staff.

But the center of attention Friday should be the students who have enrolled on the Ivy Tech Bloomington campus from different places in their lives and a wide array of circumstances. Their efforts will be recognized through their commencement as they embark on the next phase of their lives, better equipped from their experience.

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.