Lentz Civil was in college studying economics and running a successful nonprofit in her home country of Haiti in the summer of 2021 when she made the difficult decision to move permanently to Indianapolis. 

That summer, Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated, marking the day Haiti began to go down in a violent tailspin

She was visiting her mother, who had long lived in Indianapolis, in the summer of 2021, as she and her brother had done their whole lives when the siblings made the abrupt decision to stay for good. 

“The situation in my home country wasn't that bad for us at that time. But it also wasn't good. We were missing a lot of days of school, for security reasons. So we had to take all of that into consideration and make a decision about whether to go back to Haiti or not,” Civil said. 

Haiti has had a troubling past couple of decades, yes, but the last two years have been the country’s worst as Haiti experiences the worst gang violence it has ever known, thrusting itself into a humanitarian crisis

For perspective, more than 850 civilians were killed in Haiti during the first four months of this year alone, according to the United Nations. That figure is higher than Ukraine’s casualties within the same period.

“I didn't have anything with me when we made the decision to stay. Which shows how big of a decision it was. I only had one week’s worth of clothes, nothing else. Because I was supposed to only stay for a week,” Civil said. 

Photo Provided by Lentz Civil

After settling, the 23-year-old wanted to pick up her economic studies but encountered several hurdles. For starters, finding a college that would accept her Haitian transcripts took a lot of work. Plus, due to the tumultuous climate in Haiti, her previous college would take excruciatingly long to get her transcripts sent over. 

“Then I called Ivy Tech, and they said, ‘Yes, we will accept your transcript and translate it,’” Civil said.

Once accepted into Ivy Tech Indianapolis in the fall of 2022, Civil changed her degree path from economics to data analytics. 

“I was thinking about the pros and cons, and I found that it would be more difficult for me, a migrant girl, to find a job in the economic field. That's what made me change. I was like, ‘Where am I going to work after this? At the bank?’” Civil said, explaining the decisions she had to make. “In my country, I had a better idea of how it works. But I was new here, and I don’t really know the system. I just wanted to pick something I liked, but it was also easier for me to get a job.” 

Since enrolling at Ivy Tech Indianapolis, Civil has become a board member of the Campus Activities Board (CAB), has been appointed as the new president of the National Society of Leadership & Success (NSLS), and planted U.S. roots for her nonprofit organization, “Hart’s Haiti Inc.” Hart’s is an organization that uses creativity and technology to educate youth between the ages of 16 and 25 from vulnerable Haitian communities. 

As the founder and CEO, Civil’s passion lies in helping facilitate opportunities backed by data—another huge reason for choosing to become a data analyst. 

“We have limited data available in Haiti compared to the United States. I want to make data more available for my country,” Civil said. “And I love data. I want to work for a big organization, handling their data one day.”

 With nearly 100 members focusing on creativity, technology, and wellness, Civil hopes to facilitate the same resources and opportunities for Indianapolis youth through Hart’s at Ivy Tech. And as president of NSLS, she hopes to do the same things for the Indianapolis campus.  

“My goal as president of NSLS is to get students more involved. I want to make our younger students more independent and help them embrace the college experience at Ivy Tech,” Civil said. 

As someone who is new to living in Indianapolis, Lentz has enjoyed discovering the Circle City. Thanks to the flexibility of classes on the Ivy Tech Indianapolis campus, Civil says she can explore her new home, have a job, and continue honing her photography skills. 

Civil is enjoying her classes on campus so far. One of her favorite parts of the Ivy Tech Indianapolis community is the engagement with her instructors. She says that although she can understand and read four languages, English took a lot of work for her to speak. She passed her English as a second language (ESL) test but still needed help speaking the language. Thanks to the encouragement of her professors, she has been able to push past that discomfort and enhance her spoken English. 

“I like the fact that my professors don't just come in, read some notes, and then leave. So far, that’s not my experience at all,” Civil said. “My professors are really interested in their students. They make you express yourself. They want to hear from you.”

You can learn about Civil’s nonprofit at hartshaiti.org and NSLS at nsls.org.

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.