Our Lake County Campus community had the honor this week of hosting James Kvaal, U.S. Under Secretary of Education, for a tour and informational session at the Arts & Sciences Building.

Before the general meeting, Dr. Dale Downs, interim Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, and Chancellor Louie Gonzalez met with the Under Secretary and his two assistants to review the history of the college and Lake County Campus. They also shared some of the campus strengths, such as dual credit, dual enrollment, workforce training, community partnerships, diversity in our student body and support systems for students. In addition, faculty members Louie Fadel and Dr. Carlos Hernandez provided a brief tour of our state-of-the-art science and biology labs on the third floor. 

During this meeting, campus staff and students spoke about about what makes Ivy Tech Lake County special and how it is changing lives:

  • Rosie Lopez-Malagon, K-14 Executive Director, explained how we are “starting to plant the seed” about Ivy Tech at a young age. This includes a Campus Experience pilot program for sixth graders where they learn about staff members’ journeys, then participate in a Career and College Expo and vision board workshop. Interactive Campus Experiences also are planned for high schoolers in the trades, healthcare, culinary and manufacturing.
  • We have teamed up with community partners like NIPSCO and BP in outreach efforts to women and students of color, and to offer high school students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and college credential in Process Operations simultaneously.
  • Pete Morikis, representing our longtime partner GEO Academy, noted that 41 of their 21st Century Charter School students have earned Ivy Tech associate degrees before graduating high school. “Ivy Tech prepares you for a lot of things you don’t expect, particularly because the world keeps changing,” said William Murray, a 21st Century grad who earned his associate degree this summer.
  • DeeDee White, Ivy+ Career Link Executive Director, touched on the immersive career help we give our students. “We focus on careers from the day students walk through our doors,” DeeDee said, with career coaching and exploration, training and internship opportunities just a few of the services Career Link offers. “We’ve turned a huge corner as it relates to careers. It’s no longer transactional. This is part of your (college) experience.”
  • Our Machining Academy is offered in partnership with the Hammond Area Career Center. Hammond Schools Supt. Scott Miller; Pete Nau Jr., general manager for Hammond Machine Works; and two Career Center students all spoke about the Academy’s impact. One student said “it’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” because he supports a household, and the other spoke about persevering despite the fact that he had wanted to quit.
  • Community partner Cleveland Cliffs supplied machinery for hands-on experiential training so students can become industrial electricians, and Cleveland Cliffs Program Manager Roger Hughes and graduate Miranda Stone spoke about the program’s impact. “I’m very grateful,” Miranda said. “It’s definitely opened some doors. I love my job.”
  • We established our To the Finish Line initiative, funded by a $1.2 million grant awarded with the help of U. S Rep. Frank Mrvan. Under this umbrella, a Community Care Team provides financial, mental health and Success Coaching support.

We’re happy to report that Under Secretary Kvaal was very impressed with our Ivy Tech Lake County story. “That was an incredible presentation,” Mr. Kvaal said. “These are the kinds of things our country needs more of. We need to invest more in bringing together high schools, colleges and employers.”

That sentiment is at the very heart of the Ivy Tech mission, both statewide and at the campus level. We’re proud that the hard work of our students, staff and faculty is being recognized at a national level. We salute you all!

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.