Ivy Tech Indianapolis’ Reflection Room is dedicated to prayer, meditation, and lactation privacy

Inside Ivy Tech Community College’s Ural Smith Jr. Reflection Room. Photo By Dr. Lizette Rivera

The Ural Smith Jr. Reflection Room opened on the Ivy Tech Community College’s Indianapolis campus in September to provide students, faculty, and staff a private space for prayer, meditation, lactation, de-escalation efforts, and restorative justice.

The Reflection Room is on the second floor of the Illinois Fall Creek Center (IFC), near the Center for Intercultural Excellence. It is named in honor of the late Ural Smith, Jr., who helped the Ivy Tech Indianapolis campus change and grow immensely over the years.

Smith was on the Ivy Tech Indianapolis Campus Board of Trustees for many years, during which he served as the board chair from 2007 to 2011, and in 2014 he was awarded the title of “Trustee Emeritus.”

A plaque outside of the Reflection Room reads, in part:

“Ural Smith, Jr. was a steadfast champion for student access and success at Ivy Tech. This reflection room is dedicated to his great faith, quiet leadership and strong commitment to the College and its mission.”

The Ural Smith, Jr. Reflection Room
A plaque outside of The Ural Smith, Jr. Reflection Room details all that the former Ivy Tech Community College board member contributed to the Indianapolis campus and the the city beyond.
The Ural Smith, Jr. Reflection Room is part of the Center for Intercultural Excellence on the second floor of IFC.

Ivy Indy is the first Ivy Tech campus with a room of this kind.

“I think it’s beautiful, honestly,” Dr. Lizette Rivera, the Ivy Tech Indy’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging, said. “For me, it really shows the college’s commitment to diversity, equity, and belonging.”

Inside the Reflection Room are prayer rugs, mats, prayer beads, a chair, and a table. There is also a bookshelf on which the Diversity and Community Engagement team invites anyone who utilizes the room to leave any religion-related reading material.

The Reflection Room remains locked at all times and operates on a first-come-first-served basis.

Zack, an Ivy Tech Indianapolis student, spoke with Dr. Rivera about his appreciation for the Reflection Room in a video. Zack explained the simplicity of the room helps keep the distractions at bay.

“The whole point — at least from my perspective — on why it’s so simplistic is necessary because it kind of gives you the chance to be alone, to be in your own solitude,” Zack said.

An Ivy Tech Indianapolis student talks about the The Ural Smith Jr. Reflection Room.

Zack said he used to ask professors where he could find a room to pray in and often struggled to find one that ensured privacy and wasn’t being used for a class.

“I personally love this room because it gives me the chance to be by myself. I’ve been at Ivy Tech for about a year and a half now and I kind of had issues when it came to praying here,” he said. “I kind of had to usually just figure it out or walk around aimlessly to try and find a room. And the reason this room resonates with me so much is because now I don’t have to do that. Now I don’t have to waste so much time. I can come in here.”

Those interested in using the reflection room can visit Dr. Rivera’s office in IFC 202B or the front desk at the Center for Intercultural Excellence in IFC 202A. The Center for Intercultural Excellence is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or as needed. 

‘We recover through skill and passion’: Ivy Indy health sciences student seeks to open recovery homes in Indiana

Meet Qiana McClelland. An Ivy Tech student and recovering addict on a mission to build more personable recovery centers.

Qiana McClelland in her cap and gown after graduating from the Excel Center. Photo provided by Qiana McClelland.

Qiana McClelland, 43, recently established a non-profit called “The Passover.” It’s the first step in her plan to open an addiction treatment center and, eventually, recovery homes.

“I’ve been in plenty (of recovery homes). That’s why I want to make a difference,” McClelland said.

McClelland is a former drug addict who first started taking drugs at 15 years old. McClelland, a native of Indianapolis’ south side, was on drugs for 20 years.

Today, McClelland celebrates over 18 years of sobriety. She stopped taking drugs the same day she gave birth to her now 18-year-old son. “So every day he grows, I grow also,” she said.

McClelland now has four children, who inspire her daily to stay clean. One of the biggest lessons McClelland has learned in her life thus far is never to take anything for granted.

“You can be gone like right now,” she said. “Never take the people you love for granted or those that love you. Because sometimes people will love you without you really knowing it. And you turn, and they gone and you never got a chance to really feel or interact with that love.”

“People don’t know that drug addicts, they form packs,” McClelland continued, “and out of my pack, I’m the only one still living.”

“Ivy Tech has been my platform to grow and succeed.”

McClelland obtained her high school diploma after graduating from The Excel Center in May 2021.

Finishing high school wasn’t something she ever thought she’d do, much less attend college.

“I mean, my whole entire life, I’ve used drugs. I never thought I was good enough,” McClelland said. “It felt so good … I’m telling you, it felt so good to graduate high school.”

So, when Summer Gooding, Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruiting at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, approached McClelland at her graduation, wondering what her next move was, McClelland didn’t have an answer for her. She was too busy trying to take in the fact she had just achieved a diploma, something she never thought would be attainable.

McClelland now describes the moment Gooding approached her with an opportunity to attend Ivy Tech as “the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

Qiana McClelland and her family pose for a picture together. Photo provided by Qiana McClelland.

By August 2021, McClelland was enrolled at Ivy Tech in Indy to study health services. And she has taken full advantage of every opportunity presented to her as she is now a Nina Scholar, was recently inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success, and works in Student Life, just to name a few.

“Ivy Tech has been my platform to grow and succeed,” McClelland said.

Even though she could graduate this May, McClelland has decided to continue her educational journey at Ivy Tech by achieving her addictions certificate, financial literacy certificate, and entrepreneurship degree.

So, she’s strapping in for two more years and says she couldn’t imagine continuing her education at any other institution. Especially an institution that would be as patient with her as Ivy Tech has proven to be.

After being in the hospital for 121 days with COVID-19 in 2020, McClelland has suffered extreme post-COVID symptoms like shortness of breath and memory loss ever since. Which, of course, makes getting to classes and studying a challenge sometimes.

“I’ve had to utilize my resources, like TRIO. And I have four tutors,” McClelland said.

She added that it’s not only the resources but professors like Margot Jones, who teaches psychology at Ivy Indy, that makes staying at Ivy Tech Indianapolis an easy decision for McClelland.

“When I tell you she took her time with me — it was amazing,” McClelland said.

“I’m not going to stop.”

McClelland’s dream is to open at least 10 recovery centers and homes in Indiana. A state where drug overdose deaths have been on the rise for nearly two decades.

“The facilities here in Indiana are basically jail or mental hospitals,” McClelland said.

She wants to take people seeking recovery help outside of the facility more than what a standard recovery center does.

“We recover through skill and passion,” McClelland said. “I want you to open up – go to the art room, go to the dance room. I want you to sing if you have to, paint if you have to, garden, play with animals, and bring your children. I want to be able to have rooms for my clients to where, hey, if one weekend you completed all your programs, have the kids over. Let them spend the night,” she continued. “So when you do leave, you’re already acclimated to the outside.”

McClelland says she works to make her kids proud and to leave them all with something significant.

“I want to leave a legacy,” McClelland said. “No matter where I came from and what I’ve done in life … I’m not going to stop.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-4357.

Student Spotlight: Justin Stephenson

We recently interviewed Justin Stephenson. He’s one of many of our inspiring and passionate students here at Ivy Tech Indianapolis. Read the below interview to get to know him a bit better.

  1. What is your field of study?

Justin: Mechanical Engineering

  • What did you enjoy about being on campus?

The Indianapolis campus is where I’m enrolled. I enjoy how close it is, and the professors I’ve had have all been so welcoming. Furthermore, the leadership (president, chancellor, and directors) have all been so nice and truly care about their programs, and the students in them.

  • What student life activities or associations are you involved in on campus?

Justin: I’m involved in a lot. I work in the Student Life office part-time as a social media coordinator, and I do the photography for events here while helping plan/execute many events as well. I’m also a part of the Student Government Association helping with marketing and events. I am the president of an organization called Brother 2 Brother here at Ivy Tech Indianapolis.

  • How did you decide on attending Ivy Tech? What drew you to community college?          

Justin: I originally decided after high school that I wasn’t going to go to college at all, but after working approximately 60 hours a week as a technician doing manual labor working on cars at a dealership for a year, it was looking rough. People were quitting or getting pay cuts only to put in their two weeks just to get their original payback, and it was an endless cycle, And I didn’t want any part of it! Luckily, I had some dual credits from my high school for Ivy Tech, so it was the first school that came to mind. I wanted a career switch too, so I decided to take up mechanical engineering. A community college suits me best being a part-time student. Getting acclimated to being a student again, it fits my learning style better and has lots of resources available.

  • How has your Ivy Tech education helped you to achieve your goals?

Justin: Ivy Tech is helping me achieve my goals by helping me become a better student and giving me an open door to countless job opportunities

  • Are you currently working in your field of study? What are your future plans?

Justin: Currently, my plans are to get into civil engineering. A few companies that specialize in civil engineering have come to visit my class making it easy to see who is looking to hire college graduates and less experienced hires to train to meet their needs.

  • Are there any stories you would like to share about working in your field? Have you had any positive student learning, internship, or apprenticeship experiences?

Justin: No internships yet, but I’m hoping to get one in the summer!

  • How did Ivy Tech help you get to where you are today?

Justin: I’ve never been an extrovert or student leader, and Ivy Tech and the Student Life department have really helped me come out of my comfort zone. I am extremely grateful for the things I’ve learned and the people I’ve met while studying here.

  • What is your advice for other students interested in Ivy Tech? Why should others consider attending Ivy Tech?

Justin: My advice differs from student to student but overall know your limits. It’s easy to make your own schedule, but it’s also easy to mentally overwhelm yourself and start doubting what you can and can’t do. People should consider Ivy Tech for many reasons … price, support, flexibility, and ease.  And by ease, I don’t mean the classes are easy, but it’s easy to get started and start working towards the degree or certificate you want. I do strongly believe that Ivy Tech has an amazing support system that most colleges do not have for their students.

  1. Do you have anything else that you would like to share?

Justin: Get involved! College is fun, and you’ll be surprised how much more you learn in a short period of time.

Practicing Gratitude as a way of Combating COVID-19

When the world goes to chaos, how do you find joy?

Many of Ivy Tech’s faculty, staff, and students are finding wonderful pinpricks of joy by practicing gratitude. By placing their focus on what they are thankful for, they take a bit of the negative, nervous energy that is so common these days and transform it into contentment, gratefulness, and even peacefulness.

Monica Peterson was only three months into her new position as Director of Philanthropy for the Ivy Tech Foundation when COVID-19 disrupted her routine. Despite the upheaval of normalcy, Peterson chose to focus on the simple joys in life instead of giving in to despair.

“Although I miss working on-site with my very talented colleagues, I do enjoy hearing the birds sing as I begin my work in the morning in my home office,” she said. “They are reminding me that you can still sing in the midst of a challenging situation.”

Summer Gooding, an admissions recruiter, practices gratitude as a way of combating these trying times as well.

“My husband, Robert, and I are both working from home during the COVID-19 restrictions,” said Summer. “He is a current Ivy Tech student who is glad he can take courses online right now, instead of putting his education goals on hold! We are thankful for Ivy Tech!”

For Lisa Stout, who works at the Ivy Tech Foundation as the advancement specialist, finds simple joy in her home office space.

“Lots of natural light (well for Indiana anyway!) on our back porch. It’s great!”

Slowing down to appreciate the subtle beauty of life and celebrating being near to our loved ones is a powerful way to fight the negative emotions these unprecedented times might arouse in us.

Take pride in one another, in your College that is preforming admirably despite the uproar, and in yourself for persevering and finding joy even among the trials of life.

As Tina Lamb, student success and retention advisor, put it, “I am proud and grateful for the ways we’ve rolled with the COVID-19 punches and continue to meet the needs of our students- and each other – during unprecedented worldwide chaos.”