Ivy Tech storytelling event to explore racial identity

BLOOMINGTON – Tickets are on sale for the Ivy Tech Storytelling Series: On Race, which will be held Friday, March 23 at 7 p.m. at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center. The event will share stories from local men, women, and teens that chronicle how the race and racial identity has affected their personal and professional lives. This is the third event in Ivy Tech’s Storytelling Series, which aims to create a platform for local members of our communities to tell stories of their personal experiences facing issues of immigration, reproductive rights, unemployment, and racism.

Ivy Tech Storytelling Series: On Race will include live and multimedia storytelling performances. All stories are true as remembered and affirmed by the storytellers.

“Using all the true stories we collect as our script, we will create a window into the human experiences behind the politics we each subscribe to,” said Aubrey Seader, co-producer of the event. “We’ll get a look into the lives of people whose beliefs on and experiences with race and racial identity span a large spectrum, and represent the long history of the American battle for racial equality. Beyond that, we’ll see how racial identity and racism manifest themselves right here in Bloomington – what prejudices do local communities and individuals still hold? Does appreciating diversity and having a multi-cultural town necessarily mean that racism doesn’t rear its ugly head in our city?”

The cast and stories will include the following:

Phiona Raffington will share poetry about transformation, and of finding and claiming her faith in a mixed up world.

Maurisa Li-A-Ping, Brooklyn-raised storyteller, educator, and performer, will share poetry and prose, taking us through a day in her life and imagining a world in which “black women are never late to their freedom.” Maurisa is a recipient of the Ernst Pawl Award for literary excellence, and of national and regional honors from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She has performed at the World Famous Apollo Theater, for the United Nations, and at Barclay Center.

Reverend Dennis Laffoon’s original story will be shared via audio recording. Reverend Laffoon was present for the centennial meeting and celebration for the national leadership of the African Methodist Episcopal church in Philadelphia, in 2016. During this four-day meeting, elsewhere in the United States two unarmed black men were shot, and the streets of Philadelphia erupted in protest. How the church leadership responded to the youth’s protesting that day is something that made a profound impression on Reverend Laffoon, and reminded him of the principles upon which the AME Church was built.

Local teen Dahlia Ritter will perform an original poem about race and racism and their place in her life as a middle school student.

Local teen Molly Bui will tell a hilarious and heartfelt story of how media representation gave her the courage and the purpose to follow her dream to become a writer. Throughout her story she talks about the way media representation of the stories of Asian-Americans made her feel less alone, and more understood, as a first-generation, Vietnamese-American teen.

Abi Leonard will tell the tale of how her white privilege suddenly disappeared after she converted to Islam, and started to wear the hijab. Suddenly, because of “this little piece of cloth,” total strangers, as well as people she knew, believed that Abi had completely changed races – gone from being a white French-Irish lady “who could get a sunburn on a cloudy day,” to being of Middle Eastern decent. Abi will paint a picture of how her family struggles with racism and prejudice here in Bloomington. She will also talk about how she has experience that racism is not always about race, but about the power to judge someone as “different,” and therefore “less than.”

Other stories explore race, racial identity, and racism, as experienced by the Latino, Hispanic, and Muslim communities.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased online at www.bctboxoffice.com.

Student working toward dream of starting own business


BLOOMINGTON – Tejas “TJ” Bhatt is pursuing associate degrees in business administration and network infrastructure from Ivy Tech’s Bloomington’s campus. Bhatt is an international student from Gujarat, India and currently serves as director of outreach and publicity for the student government association (SGA).

“This is my 3rd semester as a full time F1 international student,” said Bhatt. “So far, I have had an awesome experience with Ivy Tech. All the classes are good and I have enjoyed it throughout.”

Bhatt is from New Jersey and has extended family in Bloomington. He enrolled at Ivy Tech in fall 2017 because of recommendations from family members who earned Ivy Tech associate degrees and transferred to Indiana University.

“I was looking for the best suitable college for my undergrad in the United States,” said Bhatt. “I want to achieve a good degree so that I can accomplish my goal of starting my own business. Last year I was talking to my family here and they recommended Ivy Tech.”

Bhatt is actively involved in a number of student life groups on campus and is familiar with many faculty and staff.

“Since the very start of last semester, TJ has shown that he wants to get involved with his campus,” said Jack Driscoll, assistant director of student life and support. “He eagerly jumped right into the work of student government and headed an initiative to collect comments from students about what they liked about Ivy Tech and highlighted those comments in a banner displayed during Welcome Week. I’m looking forward to seeing what is in his future.”

Bhatt enjoys cooking, particularly fusion Indian and Chinese cuisine. His ultimate goal is to open his own restaurant.

“After graduation I would like to gain work experience to help me to polish my skills and build my personal confidence in the open market where you find tough competition,” said Bhatt. “Once I’ll have both things I would start my own business and that is my dream I live for. For that, I’ve been working really hard for a long time.”

Ivy Tech to host college information night

BLOOMINGTON – Ivy Tech Community College is holding a college information night on Thursday, April 19 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ivy Tech locations in Bloomington and Bedford.

During both events, future college students can get all the information they need about starting college. Ivy Tech staff will host workshops on various topics including the admissions process, transfer options, and financial aid. Faculty will be on-hand to discuss associate degree programs available.

At the Bloomington event, prospective students can tour campus and meet current students. They will also hear from Indiana University Admissions about how to transfer to IU after earning an Ivy Tech associate degree. High school students can learn how to earn college credits in high school through Ivy Tech’s Early College program. David Dean, principal of Bloomfield Jr.-Sr. High School, will share the benefits of the program from his perspective as a parent and educator.

Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus is located on the west side at 200 Daniels Way. Ivy Tech’s Bedford location is located at the StoneGate Arts and Education Center, 405 I Street.

RSVP to attend College Information Night to bl-info@ivytech.edu or (812) 330-6013.


Art history students traveled to Mexico for alternative spring break


BLOOMINGTON – Nine students traveled to Valladolid, Mexico through Ivy Tech Bloomington’s Alternative Spring Break program from March 11 to 16. Students on the trip are enrolled in an Ivy Tech art history service-learning course. This is Ivy Tech Bloomington’s first service trip to Valladolid, the seventh international service trip, and the ninth Alternative Spring Break trip overall. In the past, spring break volunteers traveled to Virginia, Central Mexico and Guatemala, and south-central Indiana.

Filiz Cicek, adjunct instructor and artist, taught the course, Survey of Art & Culture II. She also served as assistant trip director while Jerry Hansen III, assistant professor of philosophy and humanities, led the trip to Mexico.

Prior to their trip, students studied Mexican art, history, and culture to prepare them for art analysis. Sean Starowitz, Assistant Director of Economic Development for the Arts in Bloomington, also visited the class to prepare them to understand the role art that plays in the preservation of identity and in the public health and economics of an area.

In Mexico, students took part in a variety of activities to enrich course material including museum visits, conversations with local residents, and walking expeditions to discover public art.

The class visited the Casa de los Venados, or “The House of the Deer,” a restored Spanish colonial mansion that was converted into a museum to house one of the largest collections of Mexican folk art. Students spent the better part of two days exploring the collection and interviewing the patrons, staff, and local school children to understand the role that art plays in the preservation of identity and in the public health and economic system. As part of the museum visit, students also chose specific artifacts to research.

Students also visited the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Ek Balam, and received a guided tour of the local university to learn about its efforts to preserve Mayan culture and rituals. The class met each day to discuss their observations and key issues, including endangered languages and cultures such as Mayan.

Throughout the trip, students kept daily journals and video logs regarding their experiences.

“Upon returning home, students will be involved in a variety of ways to communicate what they have learned and to participate in sharing and promoting the art of the Yucatan region,” said Hansen. “One of the things we are refining right now is to help students to compile videos into a short documentary that introduces key issues. We would then be able to integrate the video into related Ivy Tech courses, and also share the video with secondary schools in the area.”


Cook Group employee ‘couldn’t be more glad’ she chose Ivy Tech


BLOOMINGTON – Lexy Shimkus is pursuing her business administration associate degree with the help of Ivy Tech’s Achieve Your Degree tuition deferral program. Shimkus works at Yoho General Store in Solsberry, Ind., owned by CFC Properties, a Cook Group company. The Cook Group is partnered with Ivy Tech to offer the Achieve Your Degree program to employees.

In contrast with tuition reimbursement programs, Achieve Your Degree is a tuition deferral program that allows working adults to earn a college certificate or associate degree with no upfront cost to them. In a unique arrangement of the program, Cook Group allows its employees to earn their associate degrees at no cost to them.

“I will be graduating debt free due to this amazing program and will continue to work for Cook,” said Shimkus. “Without this program I would be graduating with so much debt and would be starting from scratch in the employment world. Because of this degree, I will be able to get my foot in the door at Cook for possible jobs when I graduate.”

Shimkus chose to earn her degree in business administration to gain broad experience before deciding on a specific career. However, she is most interested in human resources.

To gain experience in business administration, she plans to start an internship this summer at Cook Medical.

“My experience at Ivy Tech has been great,” said Shimkus. “I enjoy my classes because I know that the more that I learn and get involved in, the closer I am to earning my degree to better my future. My instructors are always there when I need them and I know that I can count on everyone I interact with. Compared to all of my friends and what they have said about the colleges they are attending, I couldn’t be more glad that I chose Ivy Tech to be my college.”

After she graduates, Shimkus plans to continue her education and earn a bachelor’s degree.

Employers who wish to learn more about Achieve Your Degree can arrange a time for Ivy Tech to visit their company. To arrange a meeting, contact Jessica Duncan at jduncan71@ivytech.edu or (812) 330-6349. More information about Achieve Your Degree can be found online at ivytech.edu/achieveyourdegree.


Join Ivy Tech in Day of Service

BLOOMINGTON – Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus is hosting its 15th annual O’Bannon Institute Day of Service on Friday, April 27. Individuals, community organizations, and businesses are invited to partner with Ivy Tech and volunteer for projects benefiting nonprofit agencies in our communities.

“We’re inviting the entire community out again to volunteer on our annual Day of Service to help us reach our goal of providing 1000 hours of community service,” said Jennie Vaughan, chancellor at Ivy Tech Bloomington.

There are 165 volunteer slots currently available for projects located in Bloomington, Bedford, and Ellettsville, and Spencer, and more will be added. Participants can view a full list of projects and sign up to volunteer at ivytech.edu/obannon and click on Day of Service.

Day of Service volunteers are invited to a kick-off event and continental breakfast starting at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, April 27 at Ivy Tech. Kick-off attendees who are signed up to volunteer will receive an O’Bannon Institute Day of Service T-shirt. Participants are encouraged to share photographs of the Day of Service on social media using the hashtag #IvyTech1000Hours.

Ivy Tech ASAP program to host open house

Event aimed at students who excelled in high school, intend to earn a Bachelor’s degree

Ivy Tech ASAP 2017/18 Cohort

BLOOMINGTON – Ivy Tech Community College’s Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP) is now accepting applications for the 2018-19 academic year and is hosting an open house on main campus on Tuesday, April 3 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The program allows high school graduates to earn an associate degree in as little as 11 months and prepares them to transfer to a four-year college to earn their bachelor’s degree.

During the event, current ASAP students will be available to answer questions and prospective students will have a chance to win a free class.

“ASAP is a rewarding program, but a rigorous one,” said Jennifer Rusk, ASAP program director. “The students who enroll in Ivy Tech’s ASAP program are those who excelled in high school who are driven, focused, and are eager to earn their associate degree quickly to transfer to a four-year college.”

“The program is very transferable to other colleges,” said Bastian Key, previous ASAP student. “We are in-demand students because we already have an associate degree and colleges love us, and they love the work ethic that we have.”

During the event, current ASAP students will be available to answer questions and prospective students will have a chance to win a free class.

Ivy Tech’s ASAP program offers associate degrees in Liberal Arts, Education, Business Administration, Informatics, Biotechnology and Pre-Social Work. To join ASAP students must have a minimum high school grade point average of 2.5, a good attendance record, be under 21 years of age, complete all ASAP admissions steps, and attend an interview. Classes in the program are broken down into five eight-week sessions; summer, fall 1, fall 2, spring 1 and spring 2.

ASAP open house will be held in classroom D220. Ivy Tech Bloomington is located on the west side at 200 Daniels Way.

More information about Ivy Tech’s ASAP program can be found online at www.ivytech.edu/asap or by contacting jrusk5@ivytech.edu.