Youth leaders address local needs


BLOOMINGTON – In April, seventh and eighth graders in the Judy O’Bannon Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) concluded community service projects that addressed issues faced by local youth. The youth leaders raised a total of $3,001 to benefit local youth served by local non-profit agencies. On Thursday, April 26, Academy participants presented their service project results to a crowd of more than 300 at Ivy Tech Bloomington’s O’Bannon Institute for Community Service fundraising dinner with Michael Smerconish.

YLA participants from Bachelor Middle School, Jackson Creek Middle School, and the Project School worked in teams to develop their project ideas. The Jackson Creek team organized a pancake breakfast held at Applebee’s and raised $1,273 to purchase backpacks for children in the foster system at The Villages agency. Bachelor Middle School youth leaders organized the “Bachelor’s Got Talent” show and raised $1,227 for Susie’s Place child advocacy center. The Project School team organized a book swap held at Ivy Tech Community College and raised $501 for the Community Kitchen Backpack Buddies program.

Dr. Samantha Levy-Arnold, Ivy Tech associate professor of English, who served as co-organizer of the Youth Leadership Academy, also mentored youth leaders at Bachelor Middle School as they developed their service project.

“The talent show youth leaders relied on resources to help them, but they ultimately brought to fruition this extraordinary project for a great organization,” said Dr. Levy-Arnold. “The night of the event was such a rewarding experience for all of us, and I am quite sure these two are only beginning their foray into civic engagement.”

Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus initiated the YLA program in 2014 to foster civic engagement among youth. Each year, participants develop leadership skills, meet with community leaders, and develop service projects that meet the needs of youth or solve a problem faced by youth in their community or school. In the fall, participants meet on select Saturdays to engage in leadership development activities. In the spring, they meet twice a month with Ivy Tech mentors to develop their service projects, culminating in a presentation to the community at a public event.

The Judy O’Bannon Youth Leadership Academy is open to seventh and eighth graders in Ivy Tech Bloomington’s service area. There is no cost to participate. Applications become available in fall, and will be posted online at For more information, contact Jennifer Daily-Mantha at or 812-330-6006.



Student recognized for leadership and achievement


BLOOMINGTON – Ivy Tech student Rob Parab recently earned several awards from Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society devoted to community colleges. In March 2018, Parab received The Indiana Alumni Association Leaders of Promise Scholarship, Indiana Region Distinguished Chapter Officer, the Susan L. Jackson Award, and the New Century Scholar Award.

The awards recognize academic achievement and leadership accomplishments. Parab is pursuing associate degrees in biotechnology and legal studies from Ivy Tech’s Bloomington’s campus. He currently serves as vice president for the Phi Theta Kappa honor society southern Indiana region, and president for the Bloomington chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. Parab also works as a legal assistant in Bloomington, as a tutor, library assistant, and adjunct instructor at Ivy Tech.

“It’s incredibly humbling to be selected for awards among a pool of such talented individuals from all walks of life,” said Parab. “At Ivy Tech there are so many amazing talented people. They could get into other colleges and it’s eye opening. There is a totally valid alternative pathway.”

Parab graduated from Bloomington High School South and attended Indiana Wesleyan University before finding his place at Ivy Tech Community College.

“After my dad unexpectedly passed away in 2012, I began taking better care of my own health,” said Parab. “In the fall of 2015, the Thursday before classes started, I saw an ad in the paper to become a certified personal trainer. I remembered the nurses who had tended to my father and I knew I could be doing more with my life.”

Parab enrolled at Ivy Tech and took science and healthcare classes, in addition to philosophy, ethics, and legal studies. As he progressed in his studies, Parab discovered that a career in direct patient care was not for him, and began working toward a degree in biotechnology instead.

“I want to do something cross disciplinary and integrative,” said Parab. “Biotechnology is a ‘helping’ profession, though not the same kind of helping as nursing. Biotechnology is a more natural fit for me.”

Parab also enjoyed his law classes so much that he began pursuing a degree in legal studies as well.

In the biotechnology field, Parab became particularly interested in genetically modified seeds. He is interested in keeping the cost of genetically modified seeds as low as possible for farmers through an open source platform.

“I want to go to law school to become a patent lawyer so that I can help make sure there are open-source seeds available to farmers,” said Parab. “In the interim I want to become a certified paralegal to gain experience in the field.”

Parab currently works as legal assistant at Spalding Law in Bloomington, Ind.

“It’s been so much fun and really hectic,” said Parab. “I’ve only been there for two months so I’m just starting and learning.”

In addition to his recent awards, Parab is a multiple scholarship recipient. In 2017, he earned an Ivy Tech scholarship, Bloomington Rotary Club Scholarship, the Ivy Tech Civic Engagement Awards – Jeanine C. Rae Humanitarian Award, Dr. Eugene M. Spiess Scholarship, Honors Institute Travel Scholarship, and International Honors Scholar.

Parab anticipates graduation in May 2020 with associate degrees in biotechnology and legal studies.

Fine arts students exhibited work in downtown gallery

fine arts student.jpg

BLOOMINGTON – In April 2018, Ivy Tech Community College fine arts students exhibited their work at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center. Two exhibits were held: one for current students, and the other for capstone students who will soon graduate with an associate of fine arts degree.

View photos of the exhibits online at

At the Bloomington campus, fine arts students have regular opportunities to exhibit, which provides them with professional experience installing their work. Twice per year, the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center reserves four of five gallery spaces for Ivy Tech fine arts students in all classes to exhibit.

Ivy Tech’s associate of fine arts is a transfer program that provides students with an opportunity to complete the first two years of study leading to a bachelor’s degree in visual arts at colleges, universities and art schools. Students enrolled in the program take the foundation level courses that are comparable to most undergraduate fine art programs.

For more information, visit There is still time to enroll in summer classes and fall registration is open. Call (812) 330-6013 or visit Ivy Tech at 200 Daniels Way, on the west side of Bloomington.


More than 550 volunteers disperse into community for Ivy Tech Day of Service


Bloomington—Volunteers for Ivy Tech Community College’s annual O’Bannon Institute Day of Service, taking place today, Friday, April 27, gathered in Shreve Hall this morning for a continental breakfast, a civic engagement awards ceremony, and motivational remarks from Judy O’Bannon. Afterward, more than 550 volunteers, including nearly 25 business partners, dispersed into the community to serve area nonprofits and help Ivy Tech Bloomington reach the goal of providing 1000 hours of service in one day. By early estimates, volunteers are giving nearly 1,400 hours of service in our communities, exceeding the goal.

“Civic engagement is part of the educational environment at Ivy Tech Bloomington,” said Jennie Vaughan, Chancellor at Ivy Tech Bloomington. “Our surveys indicate that in the past year alone, our campus has donated 81,062 volunteer service hours, for a total contribution of more than $2M in the communities we serve, according to figures from”

The Excellence in Volunteerism award recipient is Ivy Tech faculty, Christine Brandel, for her work this past year with IU Health Bloomington Hospital’s Hospice program.

The Student Excellence in Volunteerism award recipient is Tiffany Purtlebaugh, Ivy Tech general studies student, for her work as a board member on the Indiana Recovery Alliance.

The Excellence in Service Learning award recipient is Ivy Tech faculty Dr. Diana Nixon, for her work in creating coding opportunities for children in area elementary schools.

The Jeanine C. Rae Humanitarian award recipient is MacKenzie Melvin, Ivy Tech general studies student and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society chapter officer, for her work toward just causes, providing support to peers, and encouraging other students to become involved.

The Community Organization Partner award recipient is Regional Opportunities Initiative, Inc., (ROI) led by Tina Peterson, for its partnership with Ivy Tech Bloomington in launching a pilot graduation and career coaching program in nine southwest central Indiana public school districts that started in the fall of 2016. ROI provided funding for seven Ivy Tech graduation and career coaches who work with at-risk students in schools in the community college’s service area.

The Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center Community Partner award recipient is Pygmalion’s, for its assistance in supplying art materials. Additionally, owner John Wilson designated Ivy Tech as the beneficiary of a custom color oil paint fundraiser. More than $2,000 in proceeds from the year-long sale of the custom “eggplant” oil paint benefited Ivy Arts for Kids programming.

The Ivy Tech Cook Center for Entrepreneurship Community Partner award recipient is Bloomington SCORE, for its partnership with Ivy Tech to provide business co-counseling services. SCORE is an organization of volunteers who provide advice on business-related topics at no cost to the customer.

The John R. Whikehart Civic Engagement award recipient is Connie Ferguson, chairwoman of the Ivy Tech Bloomington Campus Board of Trustees, for her leadership, determination, and service to the college since 1998, and as chairwoman of the board since 2001.

“On behalf of all of us at Ivy Tech Bloomington, I want to thank Connie for her leadership and for being the voice of our campus,” said Chancellor Vaughan. “Without her passion for service to our students and the community, we would not be the Ivy Tech Bloomington we know today!”

Day of service volunteers are documenting their service by posting pictures to social media using #IvyTech1000Hours.

More information about service projects at, then click Day of Service. View photos online at

About the O’Bannon Institute for Community Service

The O’Bannon Institute for Community Service ( was established in 2004 by Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus as an annual opportunity for the community to come together to discuss topics related to nonprofits, education and political and civic service. Previous speakers at the Institute have included former U.S. Senators, Pulitzer prize-winning authors, Governors, political advisers and columnists, and Laura W. Bush, former First Lady of the United States.


Ivy Tech Bloomington academic advisors earn statewide awards

Award recipients from left to right: Neil Frederick (Veteran Advisor Award), Diana Holtsclaw (Gerald I. Lamkin Award for Excellence in Instruction), and Kristy LeVert (Friend of Advising Award)

BLOOMINGTON – Two academic advisors from Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus earned half of the awards at Ivy Tech’s statewide Student Success Summit held on April 12-13 in French Lick, Ind. at the French Lick Resort. Of advisor nominations made statewide in four categories, Neil Frederick, academic advisor, was awarded the Veteran Advisor Award and Kristy LeVert, director of retention, was awarded the Friend of Advising Award.

There were more than 500 nominations received from students and 100 nominations from faculty and staff statewide.

“There are roughly 200 academic advisors in the Ivy Tech Community College system,” said Chancellor Jennie Vaughan. “Yet, it is no surprise to anyone who works with Neil and Kristy that they earned these statewide awards for their dedication to student success.”

Frederick was nominated for the Veteran Advisor Award because of his passion for academic advising and tireless support of students. Frederick has worked at Ivy Tech since 1998. In his 30 years, he’s served in admissions, career services, business and industry training, recruitment, and currently advising. He holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Ball State University. He completed the college’s Leadership Academy in 2004. He hopes to positively impact students who aspire to better themselves through the opportunities that education can provide.

LeVert was nominated for the Friend of Advising award because she consistently goes above and beyond to assist students in need of academic and college support services. LeVert has worked at Ivy Tech Bloomington since 2013, starting as assistant director at the Center for Lifelong Learning, and became the director of retention in 2014. She holds a Master of Public Administration from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University. LeVert has worked to develop success programs such as the student resource fair, Ivy Prep, student success coaching, the Three Points, employee ambassadors, and the tutoring center.

Eliza Erxleben, director of academic advising at Ivy Tech Bloomington, says that her team received nominations in all four award categories. “Bloomington’s academic advising team had numerous nominations in all four categories, and has received statewide awards in two of the four categories each year since the college began recognizing advisors in 2015,” she said. “This is truly a testament of the dedication our faculty and staff show toward the pursuit of student success.”

“The success of the Bloomington advising team is also a testament to the positive and effective leadership that Eliza provides, for the benefit of students,” said Chancellor Vaughan.

There’s still time to enroll in summer classes and fall registration is open. Call for an appointment at (812) 330-6013 or visit Ivy Tech at 200 Daniels Way, on the west side of Bloomington.

HVAC program receives national re-accreditation

BLOOMINGTON – In April 2018, Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington’s Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program achieved re-accreditation for six years by the HVAC Excellence accrediting body. This accreditation allows students at the Bloomington campus to test into six national workforce certifications before graduating with an associate degree including, Gas Heat, Geo-Thermal, Air Conditioning, HVAC Electrical, Heat Pump, and EPA 608 refrigerant certification.

“The accreditors were very impressed with our program,” said Bill Fenton, HVAC associate professor. “I am humbled by their comments and it reminds me why I do what I do. We really are changing the lives of our students, making them skilled craftsmen, and working with our partners in the local community.”

Status as an accredited organization means Ivy Tech Bloomington has met established national standards of excellence for HVACR educational programs. Standards ensure that the future workforce receives the quality of training required to provide the skills necessary for success in the HVACR industry.

Ivy Tech classes in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning academic program at Ivy Tech are lab-based with almost every class meeting having a hands-on portion where students will train and work on actual furnace and air conditioning equipment.

For more information, visit There is still time to enroll in summer classes and fall registration is open. Call (812) 330-6013 or visit Ivy Tech at 200 Daniels Way, on the west side of Bloomington.


Sam Killermann, social justice activist and educator, to speak at Ivy Tech

BLOOMINGTON – Sam Killermann, social justice activist, educator, and multi-disciplinary artist, will discuss the themes of themes of social justice, gender, and sexuality in his talk called “Snap Judgments, Identity, and Oppression,” at Ivy Tech Community College on Thursday, April 19. Killermann will speak at Ivy Tech Bloomington’s campus at 200 Daniels Way, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Shreve Hall. The event is free but reservations are requested. Reservations can be made online at under the “Bloomington” dropdown.

Sam Killermann is a multi-disciplinary artist who puts his gifts to work to achieve global justice as the Director of Creativity for hues. Sam is also the person behind It’s Pronounced Metrosexual, the comedy show performed at colleges and universities, as well as the online resource, which has educated over a million readers on themes of social justice, gender, and sexuality.

Sam’s work (that he uncopyrighted in 2013) has been downloaded by hundreds of millions of people around the world who utilize it to bolster their educational and advocacy efforts toward equity. His version of the Genderbread Person, a model for understanding and teaching gender and sexual diversity, has been translated into over a dozen languages.

In 2014, Sam designed an all-gender restroom sign that he gifted to the commons, which is now being implemented on three continents, is featured in the White House, and is becoming the standard for dozens of college campuses and cities around the U.S.

Sam is the author of A Guide to Gender, which is an exploration of gender from a social justice perspective, with humor and comics sprinkled in. The book opened as the #1 bestseller in gender on Amazon, and as a reflection of Sam’s commitment to access as a core social justice value, he’s given away over 10,000 copies of the book. He gave a well-received TEDxTalk that has over 150,000 views called “Understanding the Complexities of Gender,” where he distilled the themes of the book into a few minutes of fun, energetic, and easily-digestible speech.

Sam is the co-creator of, a free online resource for LGBTQ and Ally training materials. The open source curriculum they published is being used by over ten thousand educators in at least 100 countries.

Outside of his key initiatives, Sam is a frequent keynote speaker, the comedy half of S.E.X.writer & performer of InTolerance, head elf at Socially Just Cards, co-author of the forthcoming A Guide to Facilitation, and is always dreaming up new social good projects. When he’s not on the road, he likes to spend at least a few hours a day bicycling around sunny Austin, TX, where he counts himself lucky to live.

The event is free and open to the community but reservations are requested. Reservations can be made online at under the “Bloomington” dropdown.