Ivy Tech and Workforce Development Take Hoosiers to the Next Level of their careers

In Fall 2020, amidst a pandemic and record unemployment, Ivy Tech and the Department of Workforce Development worked together to elevate Hoosiers who wanted to get back into the workforce. The resulting Taking Hoosiers to The Next Level program offered free classes to Indiana residents, allowing them to earn a certification in six months or less. The results were a wild success, with 283 of students signing up for classes in Fall 2020 and another 256 in Spring 2021.

Who are these students and how is Ivy Tech impacting their lives? Here’s a snapshot of their stories:

VerLon Murkey
Phlebotomy Certificate

VerLon was a trained chef in Fort Wayne who lost his job during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since he was still paying off student debt from his other degrees, the idea of free classes leading to a certification was very appealing. As a former veterinary technician, VerLon had a background in medicine, which made the phlebotomy certificate a natural choice.

“This whole thing has been a challenge, but a fun challenge. It can be difficult to complete some of the technical science classes in 8 weeks, but it can be done. If your heart and mind are in it, then you should go for it!”

Even though VerLon won’t graduate with his phlebotomy certification until May 15, he’s already been hired at Parkview Health as a phlebotomist! Thanks to the Taking Hoosiers to the Next Level program, VerLon is already back in the workforce, less than a year after he started taking free classes at Ivy Tech.

Beth Avila
Web Application Certificate

This wasn’t Beth’s first… or second… or third… experience in higher education. With bachelor’s degrees in English and History, a Master’s degree in History, and a Ph.D. in English—not to mention a published author—she’s not the typical Ivy Tech student. After graduating with her Ph.D., Beth found a great job doing historical property research for environmental surveys, but she was laid off at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. She received an email about the THNL program from the Department of Workforce Development and decided to pursue a degree in Web Application.

“I was interested in the program in the first place because in the last year of my Ph.D. program, I worked on a digital media project at Ohio State University. I’ve been interested in digital media and websites—specifically web design—since then. I taught myself, but I didn’t have anything on paper that said ‘I know how to do this.’ The Taking Hoosiers to the Next Level program was the perfect opportunity to learn the skills that I’ve wanted to learn for a long time without a financial investment.”

Beth isn’t sure exactly what job she wants after graduating in May, but she’s excited for new possibilities. After learning technical skills in addition to her already present high-level skills in writing, editing, communicating and teaching, Beth hopes that doors will open and she can find an amazing job that combines it all.

Susan Omar
Java Application Certificate

Susan’s primary objective for taking classes through THNL wasn’t necessarily to get a better job, but to grow her professional skills. Simply—Susan loves to learn. She has a diverse portfolio, including engineering, sales, marketing, business, leadership, and contract analysis, but felt there were gaps in her knowledge on the technical side. She is a contract analyst who wanted to upskill and be able to speak intelligently about technical matters, like protecting companies from cyber security threats.

“I do not have a background in computer language. I knew that was one area that was a gap in my knowledge. And I wanted to know enough to be dangerous. When I found out the THNL program was a full six classes, I thought… ‘do you want to do this?’ And then I said, ‘why not?’ For me, it’s always why not. Especially because they were free. So I signed up and it’s been great!”

After graduation, Susan will continue working on her Ph.D. at Indiana Tech in Global Leadership. She doesn’t have a specific job title in mind, but wants to continue growing and be the kind of person who can make a difference at whatever company she works for.

“My focus right now is to be somewhere I can help and make a difference. I don’t need a fancy title. I just want to be part of a community I can assist in. Whether it’s helping with technology or contract analysis or a combination or something else. I want to be a contributing member of a company. I want to be the coworker who people say, ‘I couldn’t have done it without her.’”

If you know someone who could might be interested in upskilling, or a career change, through short term certificates or programs like Taking Hoosiers to the Next Level, encourage them to join us for a upcoming Express Enrollment Day and find out what we have to offer! 

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