Ivy Tech Alumni finds passion and success in health care field

Jessica Day was a mother of 4 and was 44 years old when she took the leap of returning to college.

“I was nervous,” She said. “But the staff at orientation attracted me to Ivy Tech. They all were encouraging and had something to say towards all ages.”

Jessica graduated from Ivy Tech with a certified nursing assistant (CNA) certification and healthcare specialist and pre-nursing credentials. She is currently utilizing her degrees in her field of study as a patient care technician (PCT) and Unit Rep at the St. Vincent Women’s hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU.)

Building a career around your education is no easy feat. Fortunately for Jessica, she found incredible support and many resources at Ivy Tech Community College.

“Ivy Tech gave me great tools for good communication, and confidence.” Jessica said. “Each professor, advisor, and tutor I’ve had so far has given me encouragement and wisdom and has taught me with dedication and discipline.”

While studying at Ivy Tech, Jessica utilized the TRIO Student Support services program. TRIO Student Support services is a federally funded program by the U.S. Department of Education that provides additional support services to first-generation, low-income, and/or students with a disability during their time enrolled in college. For more information about TRIO services, visit IvyTech.edu/IndyTRIO.

“I love TRIO!” Jessica said, “They are always welcoming. Everyone in this program is so thoughtful and comforting through trials I and others have faced. TRIO is a family really, all working together to encourage one another towards meetings goals and accomplishing them.”

Students in the Healthcare Specialist program at Ivy Tech as are able to study a wide variety of certification options including Dementia Care, Phlebotomy, Pharmacy Technician, Certified Nursing Aide, and more. Students receive clinical hands-on practice in actual healthcare settings, with a mix of classroom and time in the lab.

For Jessica, the Healthcare Specialist program is just the beginning of her education aspirations. Jessica plans to apply to the Ivy Tech Nursing Program for the spring of 2022 and later transfer to IUPUI to get a BSN and one day complete nurse practitioner (NP) credentials.

“I desire to stay in NICU and be an NNP.” Jessica said, “But plans change sometimes, so I am willing to go another direction if I end up liking another type of care better once I am working towards a Masters.”

Jessica encourages other aspiring health care workers to take the same leap she did and choose to study at Ivy Tech Community College. “You make be asking yourself, ‘Should I go to this school?’ I say absolutely.” Jessica said, “Not only will you save money, but you will have help every step of the way. If you ask, they will help you…They will always work on leading you in the right direction. Take that direction and you will flourish.”

Does Jessica’s academic journey sound like something you want for yourself? Ivy Tech has classes in all programs stating in March. You can apply for free today at IvyTech.edu/apply. For more information about the wide array of healthcare opportunities at Ivy Tech, visit IvyTech.edu/health.

Ivy Tech allows engineering student to go “all in”

When Blaine Wilken commits to something, he really commits.

That was true of his service in the United States Coast Guard and it’s true in his work as a controls engineer at Bastian Solutions, a systems integrator and engineering firm in Carmel. And it was certainly true of how he approached academics as an Ivy Tech Community College student.

After two active duty tours with the Coast Guard, Wilken decided to return home to Indiana. It had been 14 years since he’d taken a college class, but he decided to move forward–quickly. He took advantage of grants, including the Post 9/11 GI bill and Indiana Frank O’Bannon Grant,
while earning 19 credits in his first semester–significantly more than the 12-15 earned by most
full-time Ivy Tech students.

Blaine Wilken

“I had my doubts,” Wilken says, “but starting strong gave me the reassurance to confidently
move forward.”

Wilken took some time to consider different career paths, drawing on his prior experience as an
electrician, in maintenance, and as a Chief Petty Officer and Senior Enlisted Reserve Advisor.

He soon found a great option, however, in Ivy Tech’s School of Advanced Manufacturing,
Engineering and Applied Science.

“I had no idea what degree I wanted to pursue,” Wilken explains, “but within my first semester,
research and guidance led me to pursue the electrical engineering technology program.”

The Wilken family, clockwise from upper left: Cora Leigh, Blaine, Tara, and Liam

Wilken was drawn to the program due to its career relevance and the fact it embedded a Technical Certificate in Electronics and Computer Technology. Most importantly, the associate degree program allowed Wilken to transfer his credits and continue on toward a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology, which he earned at IUPUI. For Wilken, the transfer
option was the ideal match to his needs.

“Ivy Tech was a great reintroduction to college with small class sizes and a very professional
and approachable staff,” he says. “This was very important to my preparation to move to IUPUI,
as well as help to build a solid foundation of study skills and routines to my success as a college

While Wilken acknowledges the efforts of many Ivy Tech staff and faculty members, he
especially appreciated Mark Atkins, program chair of electrical engineering technology at the
Indianapolis campus.

“Mark’s professional guidance was a key factor in assuring me I made the right choice to move
forward with the program,” Wilken says, “Mark is a great professor, and always gave his time to
help me grasp concepts I struggled with–which happened often.”

Now that Wilken has achieved his goal of earning a position in engineering, he encourages
others to consider starting at Ivy Tech–and then, as he did, going all in.

“I can honestly say that without beginning at Ivy Tech,” he says, “I am not sure it would have
been able to stay on this path so seamlessly.”

Ivy Tech Alumni receives portion of $25K prize through Techpoint’s “S.O.S. Challenge”

Ivy Tech alumni, Merouane Baoch, was a part of the winning Transportation App team in Techpoint’s Summer Opportunities for Students (S.O.S.) Challenge. As a reward, Baoch will receive a portion of the $25,000 prize.

Techpoint’s S.O.S. Challenge was a replacement activity for the Summer Xtern program that Techpoint sponsors every summer. Students were grouped into teams supported by local businesses, and for 4 weeks worked on elaborate projects that aimed to provide solutions to this years themed obstacle: COVID-19.

The various teams created innovative solutions for Indiana businesses, nonprofit, tourism, sports, transportation and health organizations. Baoch’s team tackled a transportation issue, limiting the risk of viral spread while travelers navigate the security process at airports.

Their solution? NoQ, “An optimized time-scheduling application to prebook TSA slots to enable airlines and airports deliver travelers a no-hassle, COVID-safe, flying experience.”

The teams with the highest evaluation point totals – including Baoch’s transportation team – presented their proposed solutions to Governor Eric J. Holcomb via Zoom on July 31. The projects, he said, “reinforce Indiana’s place in the world where Indiana stands for Indiana but also innovation.”

For more information about Techpoint’s S.O.S. challenge and an overview of all of the amazing projects, visit https://link.ivytech.edu/SOS. To check out the NoQ App, click here.

Ivy Tech Community College equips Indianapolis Biotechnology industry with skilled employees

Biotechnology is a field that has seen significant growth in global employment. In Indiana, jobs in the Biotechnology sector have increased by 12% over the last five years.

At Ivy Tech Community College, the Biotechnology Program prepares students for careers in a variety of life science and manufacturing settings like research, pharmaceutical, and quality control. Due to the extent of their education, Ivy Tech students are able to launch directly into high-paying jobs after graduation at industry giants like Eli Lilly, Dow Agroscience, Cook Pharmica, and Midwest Compliance Laboratories.

Andrew Breite is the Director of Quality Assurance at Indianapolis company ViaCyte. VitaCyte manufactures purified enzyme reagents used to recover cells from tissue by degrading the extracellular matrix. Recovered cells are used in basic research, pharmaceutical development studies, and clinical therapies such as transplantation.

VitaCyte maintains regular contact with the Biotechnology Program Chair, Dr. Don Pappas, at Ivy Tech. Previously, VitaCyte has also hired Ivy Tech Biotech graduates directly or through internship programs through the college.

“The manufacturing process and quality control testing performed at VitaCyte are complex and require meticulous attention to detail, expertise in reporting and interpreting results and the ability to monitor trends over time,” Breite said. “The graduates of the Biotech Program at Ivy Tech are trained to understand the controlled manufacturing environment and adapt to a rigorous quality management system. They are typically very eager to contribute and quite receptive to understand exactly how they contribute value to the organization.”

Programs that focus on protein bioprocessing, quality management, and regulatory framework understanding are beneficial for people hoping to pursue a career in a biotechnology company that explores things like cell recovery, such as VitaCyte.  The Biotechnology Program at Ivy Tech strives to equip students with these skills and more through real-world experienced professors and state-of-the-art laboratories that are equipped with instrumentation and supplies for effective hands-on learning.

“[Ivy Tech] graduates of the biotechnology program have been or are employed [at VitaCyte] in manufacturing and quality control operations or in process development roles.” Breite said.  “These roles are at the very heart of the VitaCyte value added product features and critical to revenue generation for the company. In these roles, employees are engaged in protein column chromatography purification, bioprocessing, aseptic fill-finish processes, and a variety of analytical testing procedures.”

With nearly 58,000 Hoosiers working in the life sciences industry, Indiana is one of the top ten states for producing life sciences employees. If a potentially ground-breaking career in biotechnology sounds like something you might want to pursue, visit (insert link) for more information about the Biotech Program at Ivy Tech. For more information about VitaCyte and the exciting science happening there, visit VitaCyte.com.

Aspiring bio-medical engineer makes start in Ivy Tech’s LSAMP program

Careers in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are growing in demand. The IN LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) program at Ivy Tech Community College Central Indiana strives to increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of underrepresented minority students in STEM fields. Eric Raymond, an aspiring bio-medical engineer at Ivy Tech with an anticipated graduation in Fall 2020, is one of the many students in this program.

“The [LSAMP] program helps you get your foot in the door,” Raymond said. “They have many connections and as long as you try your best in everything you do, they will help you.”

The College is strongly committed to implementing various activities that foster growth and success for students to achieve each of LSAMP’s goals. These goals include:

  • Strengthen students’ academic preparation
  • Increase student engagement with their STEM discipline
  • Retain students in STEM majors all the way to their graduation
  • Transition students from community college to four-year institutions
  • Prepare students for STEM careers and graduate school through professional development.

“[LSAMP at Ivy Tech] are more than willing to call you when you hit a rough patch and are very helpful with job and internship related things when you are busy with school,” Raymond said.

According to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, there is a high demand for STEM professionals, but the supply of qualified STEM workers to fill this demand is at risk as long as underrepresented minority groups are not engaged in these fields.

“[LSAMP has] opened new doors for me,” Raymond added. “They have shown me people like me who are out there doing the same thing I want to do, with the same background as me.”

Eric Raymond

Students in this program participate in activities such as peer mentoring, tutoring, and faculty-mentored research at one of the alliance’s four-year institutions. These activities help students develop crucial skills and learning strategies that tailor them for success both at college and in the STEM workforce.

“[Ivy Tech] has many teachers that care for your success. They will help you as much as the can to ensure a brighter future.”

Raymond went on to describe some meaningful connections he made through the LSAMP program.

“Donna Staling is always there to give great advice on what needs to be done and what is the best way to do things.”

Students who are accepted as LSAMP scholars receive stipends for their active participation as tutors, peer mentors and researchers. These efforts ideally lead to increased numbers of underrepresented minority students who earn baccalaureate degrees in STEM fields as well as an increased minority presence in the STEM workforce.

“I started out in engineering not really knowing what to expect and not that confident,” he said. “As I went through the courses, I would struggle but I would never give in. I loved solving the problems that were given to me. I wanted to succeed.”

With his anticipated graduation just around the corner, it appears that success and completion are in Raymond’s near future. For more information on how to become an LSAMP scholar, visit http://ivytech.edu/LSAMP or email lsamp@ivytech.edu.