“Ivy Tech has been instrumental in redefining, re-inspiring and redirecting my life.”
During Chris Bowen’s time at Ivy Tech, he got to meet President Obama, serve as Student Government Association President and start a whole new career path. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, and he would be the first to tell you.
“Returning to school as a 40-something is not a decision easily made, and with the demands of children, current career, and just everyday life, following through on the decision can seem impossible,” he said. But Chris knew he had to do it. “For me, it was about doing my part to set a good example for my child. Telling him how important his education is, while not completing mine was not the message I wanted to send.” Chris and his son were both enrolled in college at the same time and competed in a “friendly competition” to spur each other on to higher grade point averages. “Currently, he is winning, but in the end, we will both be winners,” Chris said.
The other reason Chris chose to return to school was to have a bigger impact on the Indianapolis community. He previously worked for Fortune 500 companies, and after a career in restaurant management where he had even been a partner in a popular local establishment, he wanted more. “At the end of the day I felt like all I had done was feed someone who would soon be hungry again. I wanted to learn how to serve others in more important areas of their lives,” Chris said. He started volunteering at one of the Mayor’s Charter Schools and it led to being hired as a bookkeeper. However, shortly after the downturn in the economy, the restaurant closed and the part-time position with the school was not enough income to support his family. To add insult to injury, the rules for Charter School financial management changed, requiring certifications he did not have. His options were to return to the restaurant industry or to update his skills and education. “Failure and unemployment were not options, and as depressing as it was to be unemployed, I knew it would only be a temporary setback if I invested in myself,” Chris said.
Chris was intimidated to come back to school, but he had a strategy. He got involved in Student Life, volunteering for Ivy Tech Days of Service and the panel build for Habitat for Humanity. As he became more involved, more opportunities were presented to him, such as the Chancellor’s Service Scholars program and the Leadership Academy. Eventually he served as Student Government President and had the honor of meeting President Obama during his visit to Ivy Tech. President Obama told Chris he could “see why he was selected by his peers to represent them.”
Even though he received many job offers after the first year of coursework, he decided to push through and finish his degree. Chris graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Accounting and was hired by Ivy Tech to work in the Office of the President in the finance office. From there, he was recruited by a CPA group in Indianapolis.
“I am honored to be an alumnus of Ivy Tech … I could never repay this institution for what they gave me, but I will try by telling everyone who will listen that Ivy Tech really does help make our dreams a reality and should they be considering attending college in Indiana, Ivy Tech should be the FIRST place they look to help them reach their goals.”