I Define Success: Sam Hockwalt

Sam Hockwalt photoSophomore Sam Hockwalt said attending Ivy Tech was the best way for him to save money and stay connected to his community.

Hockwalt, who wants to be a naturalist for the Department of Natural Resources, plans on attending Ivy Tech’s Anderson campus for two years before transferring to Ball State University to complete his bachelor’s degree in natural resources.

Hockwalt first began considering Ivy Tech his sophomore year when an Ivy Tech representative spoke to his school about the benefits of attending community college. He said he was so impressed by the presentation that when people began asking about his college plans, Ivy Tech was always a part of that conversation.

“It went from a quick answer, to an easy question, to my actual plan pretty quick,” Hockwalt said.

The main reason Hockwalt said he wanted to attend Ivy Tech was because of the financial benefits.

Both of Hockwalt’s parents attended Ball State for four years of college. Over 20 years later they are still paying off their student loans.

Because Hockwalt plans on working in a lower-paying job, he said he does not want to make the same mistake and go into the workforce with crippling student loan debt.

“I know that I am eventually going to get some student loan debt, but I want it to be as little as possible,” Hockwalt said.

In addition to the financial benefits, Hockwalt said he believes he is receiving a top-notch education from professors who really care for their students.

“There is no difference in what I am learning here than what I would be learning at Ball State, other than money,” Hockwalt said. “The short-term boost in notoriety that I would get from going to a four-year college for all four years, is not equivalent to the monetary expenditure that it would take to have that little boost.”

Hockwalt is currently completing general studies classes at Ivy Tech, but he said he still feels he is learning important life skills through classes such as personal finance and physical science.

“I haven’t had a single class yet that I can look back on and be like, ‘That was a waste of time,’” Hockwalt said.

One of his favorite classes this past year was earth and space science.

One of the reasons he said he enjoyed the class was because the professor was very hands-on, and their labs were more about the real-world applications and less about filling out worksheets.

“The professor was very into what he was doing, and he made it very fun for us,” Hockwalt said.

Hockwalt said there are also multiple advantages to staying close to home. Because he did not need to leave his home or move far away, he said he experienced an easy transition to college life and was able to focus more on his schooling.

“I’m getting the experience of how to do my classes without also having to juggle living with roommates and all that,” said Hockwalt.

Ivy Tech is also very active in the community, said Hockwalt. In addition to being located in Anderson, Ivy Tech has also hosted certain events in attempt to reach out and connect with the community.

“It’s nice to have some community interaction from the staff,” Hockwalt said. “That kind of stuff is just uplifting.”

One of these events is the Welcome to College Gala, which invites students from Madison County to visit and explore what Ivy Tech has to offer. Hockwalt himself attended the event last year.

Hockwalt said that all things considered, Ivy Tech was the best place for him, and he is very happy with the results.

“No matter how you look at it, the positives outweigh the negatives in every way,” Hockwalt said.

I Define Success: Breanne Morgan

Breanne Morgan photoOn May 17, 2019, Breanne Morgan walked across the stage wearing a black cap and gown to receive her associate degree in general studies from Ivy Tech Community College. About a month later, she graduated from Blackford High School.

During her junior year of high school, Morgan said she noticed that although she was not pursuing a college degree in high school, she had completed many college credits through dual-credit courses.

When she approached her guidance counselor, she found she was about 15 credits away from completing her associate degree. So, even though it meant taking a few summer courses, she said she decided to go for it.

“To me that made sense,” Morgan said. “Why not just go all the way?”


Some of the classes Morgan had to take from Ivy Tech to complete her degree were music appreciation, psychology and a computer class. Her favorite class was psychology.

“I had already taken psychology in high school and I really enjoyed it,” Morgan said. “It kind of reignited the love I had for the subject.”

Morgan said she plans on majoring in psychology when she attends Indiana Wesleyan University in the fall. She said she is excited to take more classes that immediately relate to her major because she has already completed her general studies courses.

“It is kind of a head start,” Morgan said. “I can get my bachelor’s two years sooner which means I can go to grad school sooner and get started in my career sooner.”

Her senior year, Morgan was a member of Key Club, a member of a local archery club, the treasurer for National Honors Society and student body president.

In the course of navigating her busy schedule and adjusting to the caliber of college courses, Morgan learned how to be a more efficient student, she said.

“Instead of figuring it all out my first year at college, I have figured out an effective system for me and how I need to manage my work and my assignments,” Morgan said.

For Morgan, this system includes using a lot of to-do lists and completing school work in different locations, such as a coffee shop or library.

Morgan said although her classes were online and she was juggling many different activities while completing them, her professors at Ivy Tech were always attentive. Every time she emailed them a question, they would respond quickly and make sure her questions were answered, said Morgan.

“Even though it was online and not face-to-face, they were always willing to help and make sure you understood,” Morgan said.

Morgan said she had to work hard and sometimes give up fun experiences in order to complete her school work. However earning an associate degree during high school was an attainable goal that was well worth her time.

“It was definitely worth it,” Morgan said. “It’s very satisfying knowing that I have been able to obtain this at such a young age.”

I Define Success: Jordan Wolfe

jordan-wolfe-1.jpgJordan Wolfe was only 14 years old when he enrolled in Ivy Tech Community College. Although he was a freshman in high school, Jordan was able to register at the Anderson and Muncie locations due to his home-schooling. Determined to “knock out as many college credits” as he could, Jordan completed an Associate Degree in General Studies before graduating high school.

“When I started at Ivy Tech… I really wasn’t very outgoing but being at Ivy Tech helped introduce me to communicating with people of different ages, races, and backgrounds,” he said. “A lot of the learning that I experienced wasn’t actually in the classroom but was a side effect of being in a diverse college environment.”

Currently studying Meteorology at Ball State University, Jordan hopes to go on to work for a local news station or the National Weather Service. His goal is to one day “be on the news in radio or TV.” Although Jordan is an excellent example of how students can utilize Ivy Tech’s Dual Credit and Transfer as a Junior program to get a head start on their education, his experience went beyond earning credits.

“Even though my primary focus at Ivy Tech was the education, it was very beneficial for me to get to know a lot of people, build relationships with them, and I continue to visit with them even though I’ve continued on to Ball State,” he said.

Jordan Wolfe


Ivy Tech Community College is proud to celebrate Jordan’s success and achievements with the Distinguished Alumni Award. This annual award honors alumni for their commitment to the College and to their communities. The awardees are leaders in their professions who make significant contributions benefiting their community, state, or college.

The alumni recognized with this award represent the very best of what an Ivy Tech education makes possible. Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends are all encouraged to submit nominations online.

I Define Success: Jessica Strunk

Jessica Strunk knows the value of education. Currently the Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Services at Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington, Jessica began her journey with Ivy Tech almost 13 while working on her Associate Degree in Office Administration.

“While working on my degree at Ivy Tech, I started working as a work-study student in the Registrar’s Office. This experience opened my eyes to what is involved in higher education,” said Jessica, “I didn’t ever think that I’d be a Vice-Chancellor, but my coworkers pushed me to achieve my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.”

Jessica Strunk2

When Jessica began the Office Administration program in 2004, she was sure she wanted to be a secretary her entire career, but as Jessica says, “education is a gateway to success.” Through her studies and position in the Registrar’s Office, Jessica’s eyes opened to the many opportunities in education. As Vice-Chancellor, Jessica’s mission is to “show students the capability of education and how it can be accessed.” She helps students understand what education can do for them and break through the barriers holding them back. Jessica’s dedication to higher education, work ethic, and compassion are just a few reasons why her colleague, Trudy Weddle, chose to nominate her for the Distinguished Alumni Award.

In her nomination Trudy said:

“[Jessica] is focused, dedicated, and brings integrity to every commitment she makes in her life. She has a spirit about her that is contagious… always putting everyone above herself, always going above and beyond for her colleagues and our students – If anyone ever needs anything on our campus, she is our go to and never skips a beat!”

In addition to being Vice-Chancellor, Jessica plays an active role in the Lawrence County community. She is part of the Circle of Ivy women’s philanthropy group, where she also involves her 9-year-old daughter in raising funds to support Ivy Tech students.

“I’m excited to get her involved in philanthropy and to take her to Circle of Ivy events,” Jessica said, “She is in training to become a ‘mini ambassador’ for Ivy Tech!”

Jessica’s career is a fantastic example of how hard work and education can better a persons’ life. She wants students to know that “they can build a better tomorrow starting now” and that Ivy Tech is a great place to start.


Ivy Tech Community College is proud to celebrate Jessica’s success and achievements with the Distinguished Alumni Award. This annual award honors alumni for their commitment to the College and to their communities. The awardees are leaders in their professions who make significant contributions benefiting their community, state, or college.

The alumni recognized with this award represent the very best of what an Ivy Tech education makes possible. Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends are all encouraged to submit nominations online.

I Define Success: Allison Newell Risch

allison newell risch photoAllison Newell Risch graduated from Ivy Tech Community College Columbus in 2002 with an associate degree in nursing. Allison’s nursing career exemplifies her commitment to her community, excellence in patient care and an ability to educate those in her field. When asked why she chose to study at Ivy Tech, Allison, who had previously graduated from Purdue, knew she didn’t want to waste time repeating general education credits she had already received. That’s when her mother, an Ivy Tech Columbus faculty member, really encouraged her to attend.

“…the ASN program is very intense. Once you get in, you dive right in. That full immersion that I was exposed to, really helped me to seal that decision that I really wanted to be a nurse,” Allison said.

Allison’s experience at Ivy Tech was challenging at times. “We were pushed hard,” Allison said, “and that helped me to gain confidence in myself.” Those challenges proved to push Allison toward success, graduating Cum Laude for the program and going on to receive multiple awards in nursing. Currently, Allison is a Case Management Manager at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“What I learned at Ivy Tech was the different avenues that nursing can take you. The nursing curriculum helps you to learn the diverse field of nursing, and it really helps you to see that nursing is something that can change lives.”

She is a shining example to future and current nursing students of what they can accomplish in the medical field. Allison continues to be involved with Ivy Tech through her family’s creation of the Pitt Family Endowment, a scholarship created to support nursing students.

Allison Risch2

“We’re big Ivy Tech supporters. I’ve encouraged so many people to go,” she said. “It is ideal for adult learners and people with families who want to go back to school.”


Ivy Tech Community College is proud to celebrate Allison’s success and achievements with the Distinguished Alumni Award. This annual award honors alumni for their commitment to the College and to their communities. The awardees are leaders in their professions who make significant contributions benefiting their community, state, or college.

The alumni recognized with this award represent the very best of what an Ivy Tech education makes possible. Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends are all encouraged to submit nominations online.

I Define Success: Amanda Crowe

Amanda Crowe graduated from Ivy Tech Community College Evansville in 2008 with an Associate Degree in Human Services. Crowe has worked at the Evansville Rescue Mission for the past 12 years, holding almost every position in the organization. Currently serving as the Vice President of Human Resources at the mission, Amanda was nominated for the Distinguished Alumni Award by a previous client, who said: “Miss Amanda is the director of the shelter I stayed in. She makes sure 100+ men have all the help they need when they are homeless.”

Amanda chose to attend Ivy Tech because of its affordability and the accessibility it offered her as a mother and adult student. Amanda feels that her time at Ivy Tech completely prepared her for the workforce, saying she retained much from her education and still uses that knowledge today. Amanda continues to support Ivy Tech students by hiring interns from the human services program.

“You can see the difference that an Ivy Tech quality education has on people coming into the workforce,” said Amanda.

Amanda Crowe2

Amanda’s story exemplifies the hard work and dedication it takes to succeed. Her experience at Ivy Tech gave her the chance to invest in herself, set an example for her children and take pride in completing her degree. When asked what advice she would give students interested in Ivy Tech, Amanda said they shouldn’t hesitate.

“Further your education, better yourself, and move forward with a rewarding and fulfilling career,” she said, “I honestly never thought I would finish college. I had a job I hated, but one day I said, ‘I’m not going to do this anymore,’ and I just did it. I went to school, and I finished. Ivy Tech provided the support that I needed.”


Ivy Tech Community College is proud to celebrate Amanda’s success and achievements with the Distinguished Alumni Award. This annual award honors alumni for their commitment to the College and to their communities. The awardees are leaders in their professions who make significant contributions benefiting their community, state, or college.

The alumni recognized with this award represent the very best of what an Ivy Tech education makes possible. Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends are all encouraged to submit nominations online.

I Define Success: Gary Gee

Gary Gee knows the importance of following one’s dream. The celebrated Indianapolis-based artist known for his vibrant, community-focused mixed media and ceramic work feels as if he’s living his “childhood dream.” A highly decorated Indianapolis artist and recipient of the Beckmann Emerging Artists Fellowship, Gary began his educational journey at Ivy Tech Community College as a Visual Communication & Fine Arts student.

Gary Gee4

“For me, Ivy Tech was a community with people who support you,” he said. “It helped prepare me and the classes helped me to be more well-rounded. I was prepared when I transferred to Herron and IUPUI.”

A recipient of Ivy Tech’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Gary originally chose the Indianapolis campus because it was close to home and had grown in notoriety. As a student, Gary felt comfortable and encouraged to learn by his professors, describing his experience as a time of “personal growth and evolution.”

“There are lessons to be learned from your experiences and mistakes,” he said, “…The support of the professors and the community aspect at Ivy Tech helped me make it through.”

Though Gary went on to complete his Bachelors of Fine Arts at the Herron School of Art & Design, he shares with many about his start at Ivy Tech and remains involved with the campus by speaking at new student orientations and visiting with faculty. Gary remains especially close to his friend and mentor, adjunct professor Hector Del Campo. He also credits faculty members Rebecca Bilbery and Stephanie Lewis Robertson as instrumental in his growth, although he says almost all his visual communication and fine arts professors positively impacted him. He considers his experience at Ivy Tech, “life-changing.”

Gary began growing his art career as a student at Ivy Tech, saying he started by regularly attending “Frist Fridays,” a monthly Indianapolis-based art tour. He then began showing his work more frequently around Indianapolis, gaining confidence and notoriety. Gary’s accolades and notoriety have enabled him to show his art in major cities like Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New York City. In the spring, Gary plans to use the Beckmann Fellowship to attend a ceramics conference in California. To see this incredible Ivy Tech graduate’s artwork, visit his website at http://www.artbygarygee.com.


Ivy Tech Community College is proud to celebrate Gary’s success and achievements with the Distinguished Alumni Award. This annual award honors alumni for their commitment to the College and to their communities. The awardees are leaders in their professions who make significant contributions benefiting their community, state, or college.

The alumni recognized with this award represent the very best of what an Ivy Tech education makes possible. Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends are all encouraged to submit nominations online.

I Define Success: Angie Bowman

angie-bowman-np.jpgAngie Bowman was determined to provide a better life for herself and her daughter. This Distinguished Alumni Award recipient had a passion for healthcare, but her previous experience with higher education left her feeling uncomfortable with college.

“When I discovered Ivy Tech’s 1-year LPN program, I knew that I could do it.”

It was through the 12-month practical nursing program that the Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo alumna would begin her educational journey in healthcare. Angie went on to receive her bachelor’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan and Masters of Science in Nursing from Ball State University. She currently serves her community as a Nurse Practitioner at Community Howard Regional Health.

“Ivy Tech gave me a great foundation and a stepping off point to get the knowledge that I needed to continue with my education and into a great career.”

During her time at Ivy Tech, Angie says she really gained the confidence to be a nurse. She describes Ivy Tech instructors as being invested in students and hopes future students know there are “a lot of knowledgeable people… that will help you.” Angie, described by her Distinguished Alumni nominator as a compassionate person who cares about her patients, also helps future nurses acting as a preceptor to students pursuing their nurse practitioner education. She has previously worked as an adjunct faculty member at Ivy Tech.

Overall, Angie feels her time at Ivy Tech was well spent. “It was exactly what I needed at the right time in my life. It was the right program for me, I came out with little debt, and it was a great place to get started.”

Angie Bowman2


Ivy Tech Community College is proud to celebrate Angie’s success and achievements with the Distinguished Alumni Award. This annual award honors alumni for their commitment to the College and to their communities. The awardees are leaders in their professions who make significant contributions benefiting their community, state, or college.

The alumni recognized with this award represent the very best of what an Ivy Tech education makes possible. Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends are all encouraged to submit nominations online.

I Define Success: Steven Schroers

Steven Schroers.jpgAs the IT manager for Lake County’s 911 Center, Steven Schroers uses his Computer Information Technology degree from Ivy Tech Community College to serve 15 communities and their public safety agencies. Steven says he chose Ivy Tech because of the excellent programs and staff, affordable tuition, transfer opportunities and up-to-date technology available for students.

“Whenever training and education come up in conversation I always point to the benefits of studying at Ivy Tech,” he said. “I was able to get a wide range of experience and education.”

Steven is a recipient of the Ivy Tech Distinguished Alumni Award and he plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Informatics at IUPUI this spring. To stay current on trends in his career field, he continues to take technology and public safety courses at Ivy Tech and uses his invaluable educational experience to assist in the development of one of the largest emergency communication centers in the Chicagoland area. A volunteer and District EMS Element Vice Chairman for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Steven is active in the Lake County community and loves sharing information about the new Ivy Tech center.

“Ivy Tech is a great school with great programs. You definitely save a lot on tuition, and it gives you a great feel for college,” he said. “It is a great stepping-stone to a four-year university.”

Steven Schroer3


Ivy Tech Community College is proud to celebrate Steven’s success and achievements with the Distinguished Alumni Award. This annual award honors alumni for their commitment to the College and to their communities. The awardees are leaders in their professions who make significant contributions benefiting their community, state, or college.

The alumni recognized with this award represent the very best of what an Ivy Tech education makes possible. Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends are all encouraged to submit nominations online.

I Define Success: David Wismann

Distinguished Alumnus, David Wismann graduated from Ivy Tech Community College Lawrenceburg with an associate of science in criminal justice. David worked at the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department while pursuing his degree, he ultimately chose to attend Ivy Tech because of its flexibility and convenience but found his education provided more than he expected.

DavidWismann

“I was able to complete the first two years of my bachelor’s degree there,” he said. “I was already on my career path, but having a formal education opened doors and gave me the ability to teach at Ivy Tech, which was a goal of mine.”

David went on to receive his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in criminal justice. He remains connected to Ivy Tech as an adjunct criminal justice professor. He is described by fellow Ivy Tech faculty and nominator, Elaine Marshall, as a man with a “high level of integrity who is respected by his personal and professional peers.”

“Dave continues to give back to his community through his work with the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department and also continues to give back to the students through his commitment and dedication to Ivy Tech as an adjunct faculty member,” Elaine explained.

The adjunct faculty member and Security Chief at Hidden Valley Lake has just a few words of advice for future students, “If you’re considering whether you should go back to school, you’re right, and Ivy Tech is a great choice.”


Ivy Tech Community College is proud to celebrate David’s success and achievements with the Distinguished Alumni Award. This annual award honors alumni for their commitment to the College and to their communities. The awardees are leaders in their professions who make significant contributions benefiting their community, state, or college.

The alumni recognized with this award represent the very best of what an Ivy Tech education makes possible. Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends are all encouraged to submit nominations online.