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Ivy Tech Marion and first-generation student, Jhovana Lopez, loves to read.
Currently, she’s been engulfed in Tara Westover’s "Educated," a memoir about how the author was brought up in an abusive home and pulled from school before eventually graduating from a reputable university.
The book spoke to Lopez, whose first encounter with the College began ten years ago at Ivy Tech Lafayette, where she had hoped to pursue an associate degree in business administration.
But while juggling school, a career, and a mental health journey sparked by domestic violence, Lopez was forced to drop her classes and prioritize her health and safety.
“I wasn’t in a healthy state of mind back then,” Lopez said. “It was disappointing because neither of my parents finished high school and I wanted to go back to school for them. I was sad, scared, and worried. I felt like I had failed.”
Lopez eventually moved out of the state and started a family before returning to Indiana in 2018. She was hesitant to re-enroll at Ivy Tech, citing apprehension about starting again and what field to pursue. And while the COVID-19 pandemic carried great negative impact for some, for others, it was a chance to reevaluate their lives and reimagine their futures.
“During the pandemic, I’d see what people were accomplishing and thought, ‘Why not me? Why am I so scared to do this?’” she revealed.
Lopez soon met with an advisor at Ivy Tech’s Marion campus, who helped her select the right courses. However, this time her journey looked much different than it had many years ago. Fearlessly and confidently, Lopez explored more ways to get involved with the College at the suggestion of her counselor. She began attending Hispanic Heritage Month events and joined the College’s Student Government Association (SGA), where she is now president. She also attends Ivy Culture Club and Gamers Club on campus whenever she can.
For Lopez, Ivy Tech provided a place for her to pursue an affordable education and establish a trusted network that continues to support her along the way today. Furthermore, as an employee at ResCare Community Living, a rehabilitation center for younger teens, she has leveraged her Ivy Tech education to better understand her clients as a direct support professional.
“Ivy Tech offers quite a few courses and workshops, one of those is a suicide prevention workshop,” she shared. “That workshop equipped me with knowledge about how to work with clients experiencing suicidal thoughts and how to offer them support by knowing what to say.”
As for the future, Lopez looks forward to completing her associate of business administration degree at Ivy Tech, with plans to transfer to Indiana University Kokomo to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She hopes to use her degree to start her own business focusing on serving LatinX entrepreneurs, as well as provide safe spaces for people in her community to feel comfortable sharing their experiences with mental health.
“Growing up in a LatinX community, I’ve witnessed entrepreneurs working out of their homes with no storefront or resources. They’re doing the best they can with their circumstances, but I want to be able to help them navigate their businesses,” said Lopez. “And after my mental health journey, I have a deep interest in psychology. Our community is not as open about our mental health, and I want to help people who are feeling the same way I did that don’t have the support system. My degree at Ivy Tech and my degree in psychology will help me fuse my two passions together.”
Tara Westover once said, ‘Whomever you become, whatever you make yourself into, that is who you always were.'”
And as her academic and professional journey continue to unfold, it’s no secret that Jhovana Lopez has always been tenacious and determined, inspiring anyone who crosses her path. Even despite numerous setbacks, she leaves us with some words of wisdom that have proven what is possible when we tap into our inner strength.
“Even when I don’t feel strong, I know there is strength within me.”
Each Tuesday, our campuses hold an enrollment event designed for you to explore programs, get help applying and preparing for Ivy Tech classes, connect with career coaches, and more. Our team will work with you personally to answer any questions and help you determine the right next step.
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