As Evangelina Vega scanned through the list of degrees Ivy Tech Community College offered, she was looking for a pathway that would help people and have a positive impact on lives. Her first thought was to choose a profession like nursing or dental hygiene. However, when she noticed Ivy Tech offered an associate degree in Human Services, she decided to pursue that path instead.
Evangelina shared that human services is a lot like social work. It involves many aspects, including youth development, addiction, the elderly, training on how to listen and assist, and what to do in a conflict situation. This degree opens doors for many types of jobs that serve the community.
A major reason Evangelina chose human services was because of a guidance counselor who had made a significant, positive impact on her life when she was in elementary school. As a young student going through many hardships, she knew she could be completely open and honest with her counselor and that her counselor cared for her and wanted what was best. When Evangelina arrived at Ivy Tech, she was overjoyed to see that, even with its size, the school mirrored her counselor’s heart of wanting students to succeed. She found Ivy Tech to be focused on the individual mentorship of each student through their education experience.
Beginning her college career in the fall of 2020, Evangelina was limited by many COVID-19 restrictions still in place. Because of this, she felt she wasn’t taking enough classes or learning as much as she could. When she expressed these concerns with her professor, Ruth Davis, Evangelina was encouraged to come up with internship ideas for human services students in Warsaw, Indiana.
Evangelina was inspired by this opportunity and started diving into the various options for Ivy Tech students. She saw other students obtain full-time employment through internships and was excited by this potential result. Although Warsaw had limited choices for internships within this growing field, she didn’t let that stop her.
One company she found was Combined Community Services, which is a nonprofit that provides many programs and services for Kosciusko County, Indiana. The company works with people to stabilize their situations through emergency assistance, while also helping the individual continue the path toward independence through self-sufficiency programs.
Although Evangelina had never heard of this organization before, she was excited to help fulfill the company’s mission of serving and giving back to the community. During her time as an intern, she aided the company in its emergency assistance to individuals. After a month on the job, someone inside left the company and a position became available. At first, she felt unqualified for the job and didn’t go for it. After some encouragement, however, she spoke with the executive director to show her interest. Evangelina was offered the job and is now the Volunteer & Intake Coordinator for the company. She speaks with guests on a daily basis regarding their needs, which may include things like food or clothing. The company also helps connect people to other agencies that could further assist them with any other needs.
Although her job can be stressful due to the hardships she sees on a daily basis, she says working with like-minded individuals who also have a passion for serving their community makes a world of difference. That is her favorite part about the job—working with people who care about people.
Looking back, Evangelina expressed her gratitude to everyone at Ivy Tech for developing her into the person she is today and bringing her out of her shell. She says, “Ivy Tech made me a better mom and wife—not only a better student.” According to Evangelina, Ivy Tech offers that small-town feel, while also providing students with all the support they need to succeed. She named several ways Ivy Tech helped her along the way, but the biggest was giving her a reason to stop doubting herself and making her realize anything a person dreams is possible.
Evangelina graduated in May 2022 and is headed to Manchester University to complete her Bachelor’s degree with the dream of becoming a school guidance counselor. She is excited to continue this journey in serving her community.