Journey is a great word for the path that this year's 1,928 graduates walked to arrive at their degrees. Life threw all kinds of things at them along the way: challenges and opportunities, doubts and tragedies, millstones and milestones.
But despite it all, they made it through. With the help of friends, family, faculty, and staff, they reached their goal of a college degree.
Please join us in celebrating just a few of the amazing stories behind this year's graduates. May their stories inspire you to accomplish new things and persevere through rough times.
General Studies with Organizational Leadership (OLS) minor
Suha wanted to finish her bachelor’s degree by the time she was 50 years old. She didn’t quite make it, but this spring she graduates with her degree in general studies after taking classes for eight years.
At first, she didn’t want people to know she was taking classes, but after a while she found herself in course after course with her daughter’s friends. They were thrilled, and admired her dedication and her devotion to her studies. After sacrificing to raise her own children — “just being a mom,” she calls it — Suha finally saw her goal completed. She has her degree.
For Donald Archey, the road to graduation took more than a few twists and turns. As both a returning adult learner and a first-generation college student, Donald started his degree work later in life at Ivy Tech and then transferred to IPFW.
Once on his new campus, Donald embraced his studies while also diving into student life. He joined the Ambassadons (a Student Affairs team that promotes leadership, spirit, and campus pride), joined the Student Senate, and was ultimately elected to the Indiana-Purdue Student Government Association as the vice president of legislation.
He may have started as a non-traditional student, but he enjoyed some very traditional student connection and success.
Holly is a first-generation college student who was determined to earn her college degree from IPFW. Even the unexpected death of her mother during the summer after her freshman year didn’t stop her.
She returned to IPFW the following fall and involved herself in classes, volunteer work, and student organizations. In addition, Holly also held a job every semester she’s been at IPFW, and she’s served as an FYE Peer Leader, an Ambassadon, and Dean Diplomat. She served as the president for Circle K, an organization dedicated to community service.
Shelby attended IPFW on her father’s GI Bill. At first, she found college studying to be a challenge. Then during her second year at IPFW she needed two hip surgeries — enough to convince any but the most determined to give up.
But Shelby kept going. She continued in her coursework, excelled in her communication major classes, coached gymnastics, and volunteered with Big Brothers/Big Sisters as well as Habitat for Humanity. Determined to graduate in four years, Shelby took online and summer courses to keep on track for graduation. And she did it.
One of the oldest students to graduate from IPFW this spring, Clark started his journey to his degree in 1964. He dropped out with only three courses and 16 hours of student teaching remaining and he pursued full-time work and life beginning in 1970.
Then, in 2009, he was diagnosed with cancer.
Unwilling to let illness conquer him and boosted by his 89 year-old mother's encouragement to finish his studies, Clark enrolled at IPFW in the summer of 2013. Though he is legally blind, he was able to complete his coursework with the help of enlarged text and other students who took notes for him in class, along with support from the League of the Blind and the team at IPFW's Services for Students with Disabilities. Though a long time coming, Clark reached his goal of a university degree — and his mother will see what he's done.
Some people are gifted students. Others perform exceptionally well in athletics. Amanda Hyde is both. From her two-time ranking in women’s basketball as Summit League Player of the Year to her impressive GPA, Amanda excelled throughout her four years.
Among her other awards, Amanda is the first person ever to earn the Division I-AAA Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year back to back and only the second person in the history of the award to win it twice. She grew in her ability to manage multiple tasks as well as her adeptness at standing in the face of adversity. Well-rounded and well educated, Amanda is poised to jump into whatever her next season brings.
A corporate-focused accounting degree requires 120 hours of classes, which students typically finish in four years. Students going for their CPA usually need five years to accumulate the state-required 150 hours of work.
Jordyn Myers is not just graduating with an accounting degree, but with the full 150 hours of courses she needs so she can sit for the CPA exam. Thanks to a combination of summer sessions and dual-credit high school work, Jordyn did it in just four years.
Not only that, but she accomplished this feat while spending three years in a long-term internship/co-op program with a local CPA firm and keeping a 4.0 GPA at the same time.
Mike and Dan Obergfell
Master’s Degree in Education and Public Policy; Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology
When Mike Obergfell graduates with a master’s degree in education and public policy, his son Dan will graduate in the same ceremony with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
They join Mike’s wife Mary and his daughter Elizabeth to make a four-strong family team of IPFW alumni.
Amy is a single mom who’s devoted to both her kids and her college coursework. To find a balance between these two important demands, she teamed up with her sister and shared the load.
When she scheduled her classes, she staggered her course times with those of her sister so that one could care for their kids while the other attended class. By doing that, she maintained a balance that put both her kids and her degree work first in her life. That's some careful management at work.
Brenda Rivosecchi and Jessica Rivosecchi-Fulton
Brenda was an older returning student. Jessica earned her GED after health problems threatened to hold her back in high school. Both of them graduate this spring, with a matching pair of majors in anthropology.
From changing majors until finding the perfect fit to battling the stigma surrounding the GED, Brenda and Jessica met the challenge and completed their degrees. Jessica says, “Attending IPFW with my mother has been such a unique and amazing experience.” And Brenda’s perspective is that “returning to college has given me a new sense of purpose and a new feeling of self-worth.”
Biology and Psychology
Why did Timothy Saltys travel from Portugal to attend IPFW? If you ask him, it’s because IPFW was the only fit — the best fit.
As an athlete in tennis and cross country, a scholar with a double major and a 3.9 GPA, and an international student experiencing a new culture, Timothy took his opportunities at IPFW and ran with them.
He became involved in working with younger students in the Upward Bound summer academy. He served as the president of the Student Athlete Leadership Team. He even won Most Original Dress while running the 2013 Nearly Naked Mile.
"I was not sure what to expect," Tim said. "Truth is, I could never have expected my experience at IPFW to change me the way that it has."
Derek graduates with a 3.99 GPA in his management degree — an impressive accomplishment by itself.
In addition to his academic prowess, Derek is also a gifted musician who played in the IPFW Pep Band. And as if his schedule wasn't busy enough, he also played in a touring rock band, playing local, regional, and national sessions.
After graduation, he plans to move to California to build his music recording career, a track where his management degree will definitely make some sweet harmony.
Elizabeth started at IPFW, but then decided she would rather work full time. Two years after she quit attending school, she realized that if she wanted to achieve big goals in her life, she was the one who had to make it happen.
She returned to IPFW as a part-time student six years ago with new vision and drive. “I learned that I love to learn. I learned that there were people on this campus that would do anything for me and that I really did have a second home.”
In addition to her studies, she served as the president of the IPFW chapter of Psi Chi, a national honorary for psychology students, worked on campus in Special Events, co-authored a research publication and conference presentation with her professors, and was a student leader in several other organizations.
She was honored with the Student Community Engagement Award for her service, and the Walk the Talk Award to recognize her integrity and personal standards of excellence. After graduation, Elizabeth plans to pursue a graduate degree.