NEW ALBANY—Tyler Ingram has not yet graduated high school, but on Tuesday evening, he graduated magna cum laude with an associate’s degree in general studies from Ivy Tech Community College Sellersburg.
About 250 graduates walked Tuesday for Ivy Tech Sellersburg’s 2019 commencement ceremony at Northside Christian Church in New Albany, including high school students who earned dual credits from the college. The school awarded more than 1,300 total credentials this academic year.
Ivy Tech Sellersburg offers dual credits for 25 high schools across Southern Indiana, with about 5,000 students participating. About 500 of those high school students are graduating with credentials from Ivy Tech this year, including 145 who walked Tuesday evening.
Chancellor Travis Haire emphasized the importance of allowing students to earn credentials through both traditional coursework and high school dual credits, and the commencement featured two student speakers from both pathways.
“You see, ladies and gentlemen, that’s one of the things I love most about Ivy Tech Community College — we truly have the ability to offer a pathway of success for everyone who wishes to seek it, regardless of where they might be in life,” he said. “Tonight, we are able to celebrate graduates who represent success at multiple points in their journey, and we are proud of each and everyone of them.”
Ingram, a senior at Charlestown High School, was one of the speakers at the commencement ceremony. After graduating high school, he plans to study neuroscience and neuropsychology at Indiana University Southeast.
He said he never expected to graduate from Ivy Tech with an associates degree before graduating high school.
“It’s definitely been a good journey through the four years,” he said. “It’s had its ups and downs, it’s had hard classes and some easier ones for me, but I think it was well worth it at the end to be standing here today.”
He said he is looking forward to diving straight into his neuroscience classes at college, and he has a “two-year jump start to college.”
“That’s two years sooner that we’ll be able to get our bachelor’s degrees, two years sooner we’ll be able to get into our careers,” he said in his speech. “But let’s be honest, I know what all of you are really thinking — that’s two years of free college…and like my dad always said, that’s value.”
Ingram offered several pieces of advice to the crowd, including a reminder to "always say thank you" to those who have helped them in their lives. He ended his speech with a reminder to graduates that they all have the opportunity to have a positive effect in the world.
"Since entering school, we have all grown into proud, intellectual individuals, so as we part ways, equipped with priceless knowledge, we're prepared to embark on a life sure to be filled with countless challenges and successes," he said. "I ask that you follow your dreams and do what makes you happy. Strive to be the best version of yourself and live life to the fullest."
Ivy Tech graduate Lisa Herald offered words of inspiration in her commencement speech. She graduated magna cum laude with a certificate in addiction studies.
She spoke of the journey to get to Ivy Tech Sellersburg, including coming back to Scott County after her father's death in 2017 to lead the church he left behind. She said with the opioid crisis and recent outbreaks of HIV in the county, she had to help out in some way, so she returned to college.
While studying at Ivy Tech, she founded the Chain Breaker addiction recovery group for adults and teens at New Frankfort Pentecostal Church at Austin. She also created the church’s Blessings Boutique to provide clothing to those in need.
"The five phases of recovery that Chain Breaker deals with is letting go, faith, love, forgiveness and freedom, and although I did not realize it at the time, I had to use all five phases just to stand before you today," Herald said. "You see, I had to let go of my pride and my fear, and I had to have the faith in myself that I could succeed. When I made a mistake along the way, I had to forgive myself and have enough love for myself and others to keep pressing on."
Charlotte Wright and her daughter, Sherry Martin, both graduated Tuesday evening. Wright graduated cum laude with a degree in nursing, and Martin graduated magna cum laude with a degree in secondary education with an emphasis in mathematics.
Martin will likely transfer to IUS to complete her four-year college education, and Wright intends to become a home health and hospice nurse.
They both moved to Southern Indiana from California as Wright followed a calling to go back to school to become a nurse, and Martin decided to come with her. As a mother-daughter team, they helped each other keep their “heads screwed on,” Martin said.
Wright said she and her daughter have supported each other for the past two years at Ivy Tech Sellersburg, and they were both excited when they both qualified for the Phi Theta Kappa honors society.
“We would encourage each other all the way,” she said. “If we had hard days and tests and lots of schoolwork, we would just encourage each other and push each other and love each other and say, you know, God brought us here, and he’s going to see us through it.”
Martin said it has been a long two years, and she was excited for the opportunity to graduate with her mom. She is looking forward to seeing what the future holds.
“My brain is still kind on what I’ve just been through, but there’s lots to be explored,” she said.