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Ivy Tech grads celebrate

Some graduates have landed new jobs despite slumping economy

By Nicole Brooks
331-4232 |

May 16, 2009

graduates line up
Ivy Tech staffer Heidi Wampler, right, says farewell to a line of graduates entering the Indiana University Auditorium for the Ivy Tech Community College graduation ceremony. Monty Howell | Herald-Times graduates prepare for ceremony
Wendy Dawkins, left, and Cory Hasik position their caps Friday before entering the Indiana University Auditorium for Ivy Tech Community College graduation ceremony. Both have earned paramedic degrees. Monty Howell | Herald-Times

Sandy Meador claimed her nursing degree from Ivy Tech Community College Friday. “At age 50,” several members of her family exclaimed.

“Is that so awesome?” Meador’s sister, Cathy Frear asked. Frear drove in from Cincinnati and others came from Chicago to watch Meador, of Bloomington, claim her associate of science degree in nursing on the Indiana University Auditorium stage.

Meador’s husband, John, said she has a job waiting for her at Bloomington Hospital. “In fact, she’s already started,” he said. “We’re enormously proud.”

The slumping economy and job losses were a presence at Ivy Tech’s 2009 graduation ceremony. Honorary degree recipient Joyce Poling spoke of the changing job market and the demise of southern Indiana’s “economic anchors,” such as Otis Elevator and potentially GE.

In his invocation, pastor Anthony Thompson prayed, “Bless them with gainful employment, O God.”

But the mood was festive, as family and friends hugged, kissed, waved to their graduates, and clutched celebratory bouquets of flowers. There were many whoops and hollers and bursts of applause in the crowded auditorium.

Chancellor John Whikehart said he decided to not ban handshaking at the ceremony, as IU had at its graduation ceremonies due to the H1N1 influenza scare. “We’re a heartier group,” he said to an eruption of applause.

The loudest bit of clapping came when Whikehart asked graduates who were the first in their family to finish college to stand.

“People need to know your personal story. Tell your story,” President Tom Snyder told the hundreds of new graduates.

A total of 463 people were eligible to receive associate of science and associate of applied science degrees and technical certificates in fields such as biotechnology, accounting, early childhood education and criminal justice. This year, degrees were offered in two new Ivy Tech programs, respiratory care and elementary education.

Dianna Gray’s two small children were able to spot mom on stage and nearly fell out of their seats, waving. Gray’s fiance, Thomas Gray, said the two years Dianna spent earning her business administration degree was “a lot of studying, a lot of nights.” Dianna now wants to go back school in the fall for a bachelor’s degree, he added.

Poling received an honorary degree in community service. In her 20-plus years as an elected official, Whikehart said, Poling did not display the partisanship often found in government leaders. And, he said, Ivy Tech’s Indiana Center for the Life Sciences would not have been possible without Poling’s leadership.

Poling spoke of the changing face of Indiana’s economy. “Fortunately, Ivy Tech stood ready for the call,” she said.

She thanked her father, who was in the crowd, for the gifts he gave her, including “a very hard head and a passion for public service.”