This article was originally published in the winter 2024 issue of the Ivy Indy magazine.


“My heart speaks to what Ivy Tech Community College gets to do and the impact we make. It invigorates me to serve,” says Dr. Atkinson. “Serving as chancellor of Ivy Tech Indianapolis has multiplied the impact I can make with a larger employee pool, service area, and student body.”

Dr. Atkinson came to the Indianapolis campus with a strong track record of leadership and success at Ivy Tech. Her journey with the College began nearly 10 years ago as a senior instructional designer for academic support services in Ivy Tech’s statewide office, internally referred to as the Systems Office. She later became the vice chancellor for academic affairs at Ivy Tech Richmond, where she was quickly appointed chancellor of the campus. In this role, Dr. Atkinson made history as the youngest Latina chancellor to lead an Ivy Tech campus. She still holds the Richmond campus, its community, and that moment in time dear to her heart. 

“They are an amazing group of people who continue to do some amazing things. They were my first campus and embraced me so tightly. I would do anything for them. This still holds true today,” Dr. Atkinson said, speaking to her unwavering loyalty to the Ivy Tech Richmond campus. 

Prior to joining the Indianapolis campus, Dr. Atkinson was the inaugural chancellor of the Ivy Tech Hamilton County campus, where she was pivotal in transforming the then Noblesville site into a full-service campus. 

The scope of Dr. Atkinson’s accomplishments is long, varied, and impressive. 

While at Ivy Tech – in addition to building a brand new campus – Dr. Atkinson was integral to the growth of IvyOnline, the expansion of 8-week course offerings, curriculum redevelopments, and master planning infrastructure. 

In addition to Dr. Atkinson’s illustrious career at Ivy Tech, she was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps, where she served as an avionics technician and worked on the F/A 18A fighter jet during both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. She is a certified SIMPLEX Creative Problem-Solving Trainer for both SIMPLEX I and II, a certified facilitator, and a coach for those seeking facilitator certification. Dr. Atkinson serves in various capacities at AMIGOS Latino Centers, PHASE Foundation, and Central Indiana Girl Scouts. She also serves on the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Commission on Accreditation of Higher Education.

What is something you grew to learn about Ivy Tech Indianapolis in your first few months as chancellor that perhaps not a lot of people understand about the campus?

The Ivy Tech Indianapolis staff and faculty really love serving our students and really love the work that they do. So many of our students come to us with a goal in mind and then work tirelessly to meet their goal. Many of our students are closely connected to the local community as well and bring their peers tremendous networking opportunities and experiences from their connections outside the walls of Ivy Tech. Our students are incredible.

My heart fills with so much pride and joy when I hear of a restaurant that is being led by one of our Culinary Arts graduates, an initiative in the community led by someone currently enrolled or graduated from one of our programs, or a product or service sold that one of our students has had a part in. 

Our faculty are top-notch and have so many accolades they should be proud of, and I love hearing about them all. To make those even more special, I love when a student, beaming with pride, brags on a faculty or staff member. That is when both of my worlds collide, and the pride is tough to express.

What excites you about Ivy Tech Indianapolis at this current moment under your cabinet? 

I love that we get to celebrate at Ivy Tech Indianapolis constantly. Something great happens every single day. We are improving processes, improving organizational structures of departments, hiring and onboarding new team members, and doing all of this in the name of providing the very best service to our students.

What made you want to pursue a J.D. at the McKinney School of Law? 

I have been extremely fascinated by the law and by advocacy as a whole. 

My spouse is an air traffic controller with a rather demanding and chaotic schedule. About a year ago, he was promoted and no longer works evenings making it possible for me to attend classes in the evenings since he can be home with our two kids. 

The truth is that going to law school is the dream, while being a practicing lawyer is not. I want to be able to learn about the law and learn to think differently about things, and maybe, when this is all said and done, serve as an advocate in the space of adoption law or healthcare law.

Community college students often are not only going to school but are working full-time, parents and caregivers, and have several obligations while trying to maintain their coursework. As our campus leader who is also juggling many priorities in addition to obtaining a higher education, what would be your advice to others who are in a similar boat?  

My mom raised my sisters and me and often used a phrase that I repeat to myself all these years later. In Spanish, she would say: Lo que vale la pena, no sera facil. Translated to: What is worth it, will not be easy. 

In every step of my life, I have always remembered that if something feels hard or demanding, it is because it is worth it. I also want to recognize that hardships are not often traveled alone. So my advice would be to always remember why you are doing it and then find some people in your life who you trust that can help you do it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and make lots of lists to prioritize what needs to be done and in what order.

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.