Once a truck driver and later the ninth female accepted into the U.S. Air Force Fire Protection School in Rantoul, Ill., Lucy La Hurreau knows firsthand the culture in male-dominated career fields. As assistant professor of health information technology at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast, she’s using those insights to help mentor women who wish to pursue IT careers.
“As I tell my students, reinventing yourself multiple times over a lifetime is OK,” she says. “I use my experiences to teach others and connect with them.”
La Hurreau’s ties to the College are more robust than that of professor alone; she’s also a graduate. Upon her enrollment in the early 2000s, she says, she was one of three women in most of her IT classes.
Little has changed with those enrollment numbers.
La Hurreau praises Joan Heise, Computer Science chair emerita, with being one of the primary influences who helped her complete her studies.
“Joan showed me that paying it forward is a way of life—not just a goal in life,” she says.
Beyond La Hurreau’s present-day teaching responsibilities and work to develop online classes for health information technology, she co-advises the IT Club, where she takes the lead for mentoring women in all computer-focused majors.
“We need to be more inclusive regarding women in IT programs,” La Hurreau says. “There’s an old adage: If we discount 50 percent of our population, we discount 50 percent of our potential.
One of La Hurreau’s recent success stories is Celia Dull, a registered coder at Jay County Hospital in Portland, Ind.
“When I felt like giving up on my studies, Lucy was the one person I could approach without feeling awkward to get some solid advice on the millions of reasons to keep going and finish strong,” Dull says. “She is a beautiful lady inside and out. I was blessed to have her as my professor and now as my mentor and colleague.”