In May 2003 I became the first sibling in my family to graduate from high school. My father encouraged me to take a summer job in the factory he was employed with at the time to understand what it was like. His hopes were that it would create a drive in me to apply to college and build a career that would have meaning and purpose. I knew I was going to apply; however, what I didn’t know was where and for what degree would be most interesting to me.
As my summer job came to an end, I began to do some collegiate research and learned that Ivy Tech Community College was a strong possibility. After visiting with faculty and getting a campus tour, I knew it was a great fit.
The small class sizes created more one-on-one time with professors, and the flexibility of the class scheduling helped tremendously, as I was working on two different start-up businesses at the time. I was able to apply much of what I learned in school to both companies, and because of the low-cost tuition, I was able to pay my school debt off before I graduated.
After graduating from Ivy Tech, I stayed true to my commitment and applied to Trine University to complete a bachelor’s degree. Since graduation, I have gone on to sell one business and created four new start-up companies in different industries. I was also honored to be chosen as Ivy Tech’s 2012 New Venture Competition business plan contest champion for my custom clothing line DeRossi.
Many of us close to Ivy Tech Community College have been following stories over the last couple of months, and as a proud alumnus, I feel strongly about what Ivy Tech provided me as well as what it has the ability to provide to the nearly 200,000 students it serves on an annual basis – with adequate support.
Since the college became the community college of Indiana in 2005, its funding gap to support its growing student body has continued to increase. The state funding has not kept pace with demand. At the same time the General Assembly reined in funding for all higher education during the recession, Ivy Tech’s enrollment soared by 71 percent across the state and 59 percent in northeast Indiana.
Also, a state report in June concluded that the college was doing a poor job of closing the state’s skilled-worker gap. The report said that only 4 percent of first-time, full-time students in the Ivy Tech system graduate within two years, and 23 percent earn diplomas within six years.
On the surface, that seems troubling. But, the numbers don’t tell the entire story, especially as they pertain to Ivy Tech Northeast. Only 429 – or 3.7 percent – of the 11,213 students enrolled at Ivy Tech Northeast are first-time, full-time students.
At Ivy Tech, most students are like me – working individuals with many other things going on in life that all play a part in getting to graduation.
The amount of support and knowledge I obtained from Ivy Tech has been overwhelming; I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without it. It gave me the chance that no other university would have been able to provide me, and it thoroughly fulfilled its commitment to providing me with a quality education.
There are thousands of Hoosiers who need the same support – and more – I received. Indiana, let’s embrace our community college. I embraced it, and it changed my life.
Ivy Tech Community College Northeast graduate
A.S., business administration