“This is where it all started.”

Before Cory Floyd stepped inside to share his story, he says he stood in the parking lot looking around Ivy Tech Fort Wayne’s North Campus—remembering the stress that came with classes, and the “priceless” feeling of passing a test. More than that, he felt the accomplishment of achieving his goal.

For Cory, walking across the stage in May 2023 was more than just a proud moment, it was a reminder of how far he’s come to get where he is today.

“I think my whole life I knew I was a leader,” Cory says. “Getting that to the surface maybe took a little longer than I expected.”

Let’s rewind back to the late-2010’s. Pre-pandemic. Cory had been working in foundries around Wabash County for several years. That was when he made the decision to go back to school.

It was an idea that began in the basement of a jail, through a work release program.

“At the time I applied to Ivy Tech, I was incarcerated. I struggled throughout my life with addiction. My choice was always alcohol.”

A new choice was made a year and a half into his program: to commit to a better life for himself. He began attending AA meetings and stumbled across the Business Operation, Applications, and Technology (BOAT) program at Ivy Tech Fort Wayne.

The BOAT program offers both degrees and certificates that aim to help students become more proficient in everyday office environments through learning things like Microsoft Applications, team dynamics, business communications, and much more.

“It had pretty much everything I was looking for to improve myself.”

A turning point

This was the first step to getting back on his feet. Around the time he began at Ivy Tech, he also became an Assistant Production Manager at Metal Source in Wabash, a company that primarily recycles scrap metal.

A couple days a week, he’d get off work and travel an hour up to Ivy Tech Fort Wayne. He wanted this certificate, so he shuffled things around to make it work.

“Living life on life’s terms isn’t easy. One of the best things is that Ivy Tech’s flexibility is 100%. It’s great for people like me that have jobs and a family and kids.”

He says his professors were “phenomenal” and worked with him around his busy life, and instructors like BOAT Program Chair Angie Evans would continually encourage him throughout his journey.

Cory describes himself as a “visual learner” and enjoyed that his classes were hands-on, especially group projects where he could connect and share knowledge with other students.

“Learning was all I wanted to do. I just wanted to grasp everything I could.”

He says he was able to scale up on Microsoft Excel and Word, but Excel was the most beneficial. Data sheets have become routine in his life and learning more about spreadsheets was essential. He even used his knowledge from classes to get Microsoft credentials, which further refined his skills.

Living life on life’s terms isn’t easy. One of the best things is that Ivy Tech’s flexibility is 100%. It’s great for people like me that have jobs and a family and kids.

– Cory Floyd | Ivy Tech Fort Wayne 2023 Alum

Overcoming roadblocks

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world, and Ivy Tech, virtual.

“There were a lot of roadblocks, but COVID was a big one.”

Being a hands-on learner meant that the move to remote classes didn’t resonate well with Cory. Even though he says his professors would always be quick to respond to emails, it felt more like he was being self-taught, and so he took a break.

“COVID hit and everything was just chaos. A lot of employees were sick, and a lot of people were at home. So, I was forced to join the actual workforce, get dirty.”

During his pause, he says Evans reached out and asked if he planned to finish his education. In that moment, Cory knew he could quit, but he chose to keep going and become a hero to his children as he walked to get his diploma.

“Ivy Tech welcomed me back with open arms.”

A better every day after

With a certificate under his belt, Cory was able to take the skills he learned to the workforce.

“I was able to collect and measure data, make PowerPoint presentations, and send professional emails. I think taking those classes helped me get promoted.”

Today, Cory is the General Manager of Metal Source. In as little as three years, he elevated his position from Assistant Production Manager to General Manager.

“As a general manager, I’m spread pretty thin, but I’m confident I can quickly slap a presentation together or some kind of data chart and present it to the rest of the company.”

The company’s owner caught wind of his success and paid for all his managers to take classes. Even now, Cory advises his supervisors to take the program.

“I like leading people, guiding them, so that’s probably the biggest joy of my job. You know, Wabash, small town, a lot of steel trade guys are established somewhere. So, the guys we do get in I try to mentor.”

Cory is also using his education and leadership skills to pay it forward in other ways.

“It’s funny, the very first Excel data sheet I put together was my 12 steps. I turned it in to my AA sponsor all color coordinated and everything.”

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has become one of his biggest passions. He currently sponsors two people and started his own program with a Wabash County organization called New Beginnings—which is a Christian ministry that mentors and provides temporary residences to adult men. He holds meetings Monday nights from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“It’s kind of like a full circle moment. To keep it, you’ve got to give it away.”

Wabash had planned to shut down its work release program, but Cory shared his testimony with county commissioners and the county council. They approved funds for a new co-ed work release facility, a $3,000,000 investment.

Back when he was recovering, Cory memorized inspirational quotes. He shared one that stood out to him: “I used to give up everything for one thing. Now, I gave up one thing for everything.”

Cory is grateful for his everything. His biggest cheerleaders—his family. His passion. His job. A certificate. The life that he won back.

It’s kind of like a full circle moment. To keep it, you’ve got to give it away.

– Cory Floyd | Ivy Tech Fort Wayne 2023 Alum


An open world

It’s been almost a year now since Cory walked across the stage at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. He took a moment to reflect on how moving it was—his family in the crowd, the diploma in his hand, the support he felt. 

“I think one of the greatest things ever was when I was walking down the hall at the graduation ceremony, and Ms. Evans stops me. It had been a year since I’d seen her. She still remembered me.”

What’s next for Cory? He’s enjoying spending time with his family, taking time to golf, and learning to manage the stress that comes with his position. In the future, he’s considering taking more classes and possibly even writing a book. He says it’s an open world.

“It's just all about getting back up, you know? And that's one thing I really like about Ivy Tech, too, is that they're really big into helping people get back on their feet.”

It's just all about getting back up, you know? And that's one thing I really like about Ivy Tech, too, is that they're really big into helping people get back on their feet.

– Cory Floyd | Ivy Tech Fort Wayne 2023 Alum

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.