“…I needed a college that was affordable, flexible, and close to home…”
At the age of 5, Rochelle was sent to live with extended family in the Michiana area. It was different, and a long way from her home in Denver, Colorado. Michiana had no mountains, and the winters were bone-chillingly cold—nothing like a Colorado winter. But, Rochelle eventually adjusted to her new life, making the best of it until she had to leave home again as a high school senior. This time, after just turning 18 years old, it was Rochelle’s responsibility to find a place to live. She was 18, out on her own, and still in high school.
“I had to make it work,” said Rochelle. “It wasn’t easy. It never is. But, I learned a lot about myself and my drive to not just survive, but to make something of myself.” For many high school seniors, working two jobs, paying for your own place, food, and bills is unimaginable. For Rochelle, it was her life. And, despite the odds, she finished her senior at Clay High School.
“After I graduated, I knew I wanted to continue going to school, but I needed a college that was affordable, flexible, and close to home…because I still had to work two jobs,” said Rochelle. “A friend told me about Ivy Tech and suggested I look into it.”
At Ivy Tech, Rochelle said she found what she needed: flexible class times and formats, low tuition and small class sizes. This allowed Rochelle to keep working while pursuing an associate degree.
In 2009, Rochelle graduated from Ivy Tech with her associate degree in Criminal Justice and transferred to Trine University. After graduating a couple of years later with a bachelor’s degree, Rochelle went on to earn a Master of Science in Administration of Justice and Security in 2014 from the University of Phoenix.
Now, Rochelle is a probation officer for St. Joseph County, and can serve in any court in the State of Indiana.
She is also a court substance abuse management specialist and an adjunct faculty member at Ivy Tech’s South Bend and Elkhart County campuses—teaching the courses she took not long ago.
Rochelle continues to contribute to her community beyond her public service career. She volunteers with Big Sister in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, serves in leadership positions with her church, and helps develop the church’s youth programs. Rochelle is also involved with the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, which offers programs and service to local communities and charities, funds scholarships, and promotes legislation for social and civil change.
“Regardless of my past I am somebody, and my journey doesn’t stop here,” Rochelle said. Her goals for the future include becoming a probation officer for the United States Courts and starting her own minority female private investigative firm.