Ivy Tech graduates celebrate success
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Ivy Tech’s 38th commencement ceremony, held Friday evening at the IU Auditorium, was all about overcoming roadblocks.
“Pomp and Circumstance” played on the auditorium’s organ as the families and graduates packed the room. Four hundred and ninety students received degrees or certificates this semester.
Ivy Tech-Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart highlighted some of the stories behind his students — of a single mother of three who came to Ivy Tech 16 years after finishing high school and would be graduating with honors Friday night, of a young man who worked through financial hardships and received a scholarship endowed by a benefactor who fought cancer at the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute and now works there.
The chancellor also gave special recognition to the graduates who had come to Ivy Tech as a result of plant closings and layoffs. He said, “These individuals courageously accepted the challenge Ivy Tech offers to change their lives through the transformative power of education.”
The commencement speaker was herself one of those individuals. Wendy Carroll is a former GE employee. She received her associate of applied science degree in biotechnology at the ceremony.
In her speech, she likened her life’s story to that of a highway voyage, sometimes containing potholes and jams, that’s leading to a new and exciting place.
She never thought, she said, she’d be going to college. That detour, “led me on a path I didn’t even know existed,” she said. The speech also contained many thanks for school faculty, staff, students and family members. “No matter which path you take, please acknowledge that you didn’t get here on your own.”
In the audience to cheer on her sister, Rebecca Lee, was Susan Gray. Both switched careers in midlife, she said. Lee is a teacher who is going into nursing, and Gray is a nurse who went into teaching.
“She’s worked very hard for this,” Gray said. “I teased her by saying she beat me. She is a summa cum laude. I was only a magna for my nursing degree.”
Nursing grad Srimala Thinsan, a native of Thailand, has been in Bloomington for six years. She says she’s becoming a registered nurse to improve her prospects. “I’ve been waiting so long to graduate. ... RNs have more opportunities to get more jobs,” she said just before the ceremony.
One by one, the graduates filed onto the stage. Their names were called while friends and family members cheered heartily.
The graduates were ready for journeys of their own.