The holidays are a time of reflection for most of us. I spent many years in the U.S. Army and far too many holidays away from friends. Work usually would slow down, and I could think. This Thanksgiving, with COVID derailing most of the usual festivities, I had similar time to reflect and think about my time at Ivy Tech. I realized how time has flown, but also slowed. And how my dedication to Ivy Tech’s students has never been stronger.
It’s funny how someone can ask you for something at a point in the future and you say, “Sure! That will be easy.” Next thing you know, they are sending you a reminder that the due date is today! Where did all that open time I planned to use go?
2020 is funny like that. I just looked at the calendar last week and it was late March. Now, the calendar says the year is almost gone. Time works much the same way at Ivy Tech. I struggle to believe it was 15 years ago when I helped launch the TRIO program which to date has served almost 2500 students in our service area.
It is even harder to believe I have been in the Express Enrollment Center since it opened its doors on January 9, 2014. I will never forget that fateful day, nor the 250 students who we helped. Let’s just call it a challenging day that led to two new tattoos!
As we near the end of our sixth and most challenging year, I’m proud of how we’ve faced 2020. Despite COVID, we’ve been able to assist over 12,000 students virtually since March and continued to provide this service even when we resumed face to face services in June. It was a challenge for myself and the team initially, but our team of faculty and staff tend to come together when things are tough, and we figure out how to overcome challenges. I’d even venture to say we’ve become closer despite the distance separating us. We still celebrate birthdays and have rejoiced each time a COVID test came back negative. Rule #56 – It’s the little things!!
And we learned so much those first couple months we were closed. We implemented Zoom, developed processes for getting the Knowledge Assessment to students, figured out ways to help students with the FAFSA and Financial Aid verification, and a myriad of other services. Helping students in this new environment takes about twice as long, but our goal is to make sure every student knows even though we may not be physically standing beside them in the EEC, we’re still by their side on this journey.
I have always loved serving our students. That’s what keeps me going on those long, crazy days and what keeps me coming back. I especially treasure the times when I know I have made a positive difference in someone’s college experience. It’s also why I somehow managed to squeeze in five classes this year earning a Master’s Certificate in Advising.
While I am ready for 2020 to depart, I have to say it—we have grown in ways I don’t think we may have experienced before COVID! I feel blessed to be a part of this team, to watch them serve our students every day, and to have the time to reflect on it all. One thing I know, regardless of what the world throws at us, we’re going to come together. I learned that in the Army, and I see it every day at Ivy Tech.