Human Services: It’s NOT learning how to head an HR department

When Maddison Mondragon started at Ivy Tech Northeast five years ago–three weeks after graduating from Carroll High School–she was an early childhood education major. After working in a day care, she realized: Teaching wasn’t for her.

She began to take her general education classes as she tried to figure out her new major. She and some coworkers at Sam’s Club chatted about what she could do next. They asked her, “What are you interested in?”

“I’m not a business person, by any means,” says Maddison, of Fort Wayne. “I like people. I like to talk to people, and I like to help. They said ‘Try Human Services,’ and I wasn’t sure what that was.”


At first, Maddison thought the program would teach her how to be a human relations professional–which is not an uncommon misconception. Human Services, instead, prepares its students to work in positions including a counselor or case manager. When Maddison looked up the program, the variety of paths she could take appealed to her: She could end up working with the elderly, teens, children, addicts, or any population of people who need psychological, social, and/or environmental help.

Since entering the program, Maddison has found a good fit. She’s been taking classes part time for three or four semesters and, she says, has been excited by every one of them. She is on track to graduate in May 2015, and she gushes about the teachers, especially the program’s chair, Kathryn Davis, who really helped Maddison find a career path.

“I think right now, I want to try working with youth and teens,” she says. “If you start with teens, maybe you help them change their direction in life.”

Crystal Joyner, meanwhile, knew she wanted to study Human Services from the get-go.

“I’m a fixer,” she says. “I like to help people.”

Like Maddison, Crystal has been taking classes part time, though most of Crystal’s have been online.

“I love online classes. I thrive on them,” says Crystal, of Hicksville, Ohio. “I can do my classes at 11 o’clock at night. The convenience of the online classes is huge for me.”

While she’s been a student since 2010, she plans to graduate in December and continue her education–maybe a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in criminal justice, maybe the other way around.


Her end goal is to end up in prison ministry. Only nine programs in the United States offer nursery programs for female inmates, she says, and she’d love to work for one of those. In these nursery programs, pregnant women who are incarcerated will get to keep their children for a given amount of time while taking life skills and parenting classes.

“If I can break that cycle of destruction for one person, then I’m good,” Crystal says. “If I can get to one person, and my professors here at Ivy Tech have given me the skills and the keys I need to go on to do that, I’m good.”

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