Ivy Tech graduates signify what community college is meant to do

Herald-Times
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Ivy Tech graduates signify what community college is meant to do

May 10, 2012, last update: 5/10 @ 6:59 am

Ivy Tech’s success is apparent in the stories of some of this year’s graduating class, 673 students who will receive their associate degrees or certificates of completion Friday at the Indiana University Auditorium.

The community college has grown over the past decade from its cramped barracks-like former home on the northwest side to its large, modern and impressive campus on the far west side. Its students already have filled that campus and spilled over into temporary quarters wherever they can be found, with current enrollment at close to 9,000, about a third higher than just six years ago.

They are what the community college concept is designed for, a hugely diverse mix of traditional and nontraditional students with goals ranging from job-specific technical skills certificates to completion of the first two years of a university degree, with perhaps graduate school to follow.

That was the path of Friday’s commencement speaker — Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the IU School of Education, whose first degree came from Miami-Dade Community College in Florida.

The students to be honored as outstanding students at Friday’s graduation are a good sample of Ivy Tech’s reach.

There is Stefany Terrell, a 21-year-old traditional student (nontraditional students are defined as older than 25) who chose to do her first two years of college at Ivy Tech because she’s paying for her own education. Ivy Tech is significantly less expensive than Indiana University, where she plans on finishing her degree at the Kelley School of Business.

Former GI Kelsey Kirk will pick up his associate of science degree in respiratory care, magna cum laude. “By going to Ivy Tech I have become a better person from all the knowledge and experiences I have gained and from all the people (fellow students, professors, teachers, advisors and counselors) that have touched my life along the way,” he wrote.

Then, there’s another veteran, Rachael Rosso, who’s married with a couple of kids, a handful for any full-time student. She also had to overcome serious injuries and spinal surgery, the result of a traffic accident in January. She still made it through on schedule.

Visteon’s closing of its Bedford plant in 2008 threw Jeffery Fields out of a well paid job he had expected to retire from. Friday, he will pick up his associate’s degree in computer information technology and says his success will be complete when he lands a job in his new field.

There are more, of course. One, Stephanie Deckard, was almost 40 when she started at Ivy Tech. Friday, she will receive her associate’s degree in hospitality administration. “If I could encourage a future student, I would tell them to hold on and expect the most unexpected ride of your life!” she wrote. “You’ll learn more about yourself than any subject could teach you — that’s the best learning experience of all.”

Ivy Tech offers the vehicle for that ride — all you have to do is hop on.

 

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