As he entered his freshman year in high school, Michael Flores Rodriguez was unsure of what to study in college. He had recently moved to Fishers, Indiana from Puerto Rico, which also presented the challenge of learning a new language, a challenge he was eager to accept. By the end of his senior year, not only did he have an English vocabulary, but a college program chosen and 13 college credits under his belt.
Michael got an early start on college through the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Pathways program, a partnership Ivy Tech Community College has with Hamilton Southeastern (HSE) High School and five other Hamilton County high schools.
He learned about the program from a presentation at school and had also just learned about dual credit opportunities at Ivy Tech.
Michael was intrigued by the thought of spending half of his day in a high school classroom and the other on a college campus. After much consideration and words of encouragement from his father, who had earned a CompTIA A+ certification at Ivy Tech, he wanted to pursue this route.
Once enrolled in the CTE Pathways program, Michael spent his mornings at HSE then afternoons at Ivy Tech Noblesville. Despite not having transportation for afternoon classes, HSE was able to make arrangements to assist.
“I got all A’s on the courses,” he said with pride. “This program helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my life.”
Michael chose to study pre-engineering, which was the perfect program to combine two subjects with which he was fascinated: math and computers. He discovered this passion for engineering after attending a college career fair and enrolled at Ivy Tech soon after. He knew earning an associate degree from the community college would be a solid financial decision to help him earn a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
The CTE Pathways Program also helped him get off to a great start financially as he also earned a scholarship through the Duke Energy Foundation CTE Pathways grant. The grant covers half of his Ivy Tech tuition during both academic years working toward his associate degree.
Michael loves the college’s small class sizes and personalized experience. Having classes with faculty members that have gone above and beyond for him has been extremely beneficial; and, their dedication has allowed him and his fellow students the time and attention needed, both in and out of the classroom.
“Ivy Tech can help you find a job and they will provide you with the resources,” Michael said, noting he had just visited Ivy Tech Indianapolis for assistance with his resume.
In addition to career opportunities and new perspective, Michael said the college helped him gain valuable organizational skills. Michael discovered by working on small goals one at a time, he could achieve his bigger goals more efficiently.
This new perspective has taught him how to balance his time more efficiently between work, school and spending time with family. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017, his family welcomed nine other family members into their home.
“For all this hard work, I would like to be an inspiration for my family members, to tell them, ‘If you work hard from the start, it will pay off in the long run.’”
Looking to the future, the 17-year-old plans to graduate from Ivy Tech in 2021, then transfer to IUPUI for his bachelor’s degree. He is able to do this seamlessly through Ivy Tech and IUPUI’s Passport Program. From there, he plans to earn a master’s degree in electricity. He hopes to find a job in Indiana or Florida to be close to family.