Ivy Tech lays foundation for Lea Gamble’s promising career

Get back in the kitchen.

Taunts from boys wouldn’t phase Lea Gamble when she walked into her high school engineering and construction classes. Two degrees and seven years in the construction field later, she’s living a full life and making her impact in local architecture equipped with tools she earned from Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne.

“In the beginning, it was definitely a struggle being a young girl in construction,” Gamble says. “A lot of women end up having to work a lot harder just to earn respect on the job site.”

Lea Gamble, BIM Technician at Moake Park Group & Ivy Tech Fort Wayne alumna

Gamble started her career with a general contractor when she was just 20 years old. She says getting the respect she has now took time, but after several years in the local industry, she’s built a network and garnered a well-deserved reputation. Whatever pushback she’s seen in the past, she says she didn’t experience any of that during college.

“Everyone at Ivy Tech was very accepting.”

Ivy Tech introduced itself to Gamble through her high school classes. She says it attracted her because it offered everything she wanted to do and was close to home. It was after her experience meeting with a professor at Go Ivy Day that she decided to commit.

“I liked how a lot of it was hands-on learning and small class sizes. And all of the instructors had real-world experience. Many of them had second jobs, so they could actually teach us things that they have learned first-hand.”

She also values the connections she made with her classmates and professors, many of whom she still speaks to today. She says former Building Construction Management program chair Jim Brunson continued to be a mentor to her after graduation, and she’s still in contact with adjunct Design Technology instructor Richard Washburn.

With all the support in college, Gamble graduated with an associate’s degree from the Construction Management program in 2016. That’s when she went to work for a general contractor for four years before going back to finish out Ivy Tech’s Design Technology program. This allowed her to see the more technological side of the industry and led her to her current career with Moake Park Group.

“I still love the construction side of things, and that’s still very much a part of what I do, but I’m also able to bring the technology part that I love into the mix as well.”

Working as a BIM (Building Information Modeling) Technician, Gamble not only gets to create 3D models based on a building’s structure but also showcases how a space can be used. Her current work focuses on educational institutions with projects ranging from something small like planning a secure entry for an elementary school to building an entire new school.

In the future, she hopes to focus on more sustainable construction. Last year, she became an LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Associate which can help advance her career in the green building industry. Right now, she’s studying for the LEED AP BD+C— the next step in LEED credentialing— and hopes to take that exam this year.

In case you missed it, March 5-11 was Women in Construction Week. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up nearly 11% of the construction industry, and that number is growing. Gamble is passionate about the work she does and offers this advice to any woman seeking a similar path:

“Don’t let anybody stop you from doing what you want to do. Especially when you’re in high school, what somebody else says is not going to matter five, ten years from now.”

High school students to visit Ivy Tech Fort Wayne for 21st Century Scholars Sign Up event 

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne will host a 21st Century Scholars Sign Up event on Mar. 25 at its Coliseum Campus (3800 N. Anthony Blvd.).  

At the event, students can complete their 21st Century Scholars requirements to maintain their eligibility for their scholarship. All students will be able to explore local college options, and seniors can file their FAFSA.  

To meet the needs of each student more effectively, times vary by grade: 

  • Grades 7-8: 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. 
  • Grade 9: 11 a.m. to Noon 
  • Grade 12: 12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. 

Representatives from the Commission for Higher Education, Ivy Tech Community College, and community volunteers will be available to assist students. For more information about the 21st Century Scholars requirements visit learnmoreindiana.org/scholars

Students can RSVP for the event at link.ivytech.edu/scholarsevent.  


Mar. 25, 2023 

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne 

Coliseum Campus 

3800 N. Anthony Blvd. 

Hoosiers prove they have what it takes with SkillsUSA

In just over a month, hundreds of students across Indiana will be showcasing the skills of their chosen trade in the SkillsUSA state competition happening at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Apr. 14-15. Getting to the state level is no easy feat, and dozens of local students recently competed for a chance to snag a spot at state during two different regional competitions at Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne.

“SkillsUSA is a trifecta of educators, business and industry leaders, and students working together to close a skills gap we’re seeing nationwide,” says Kelley Baker, the Indiana State Director for SkillsUSA. “It gives students the chance to showcase their learned skills and allows them to network with professionals in their chosen trade.”

Through this national competition, middle school, high school, and postsecondary students can win scholarships and trips to competing locations to further develop their craft. SkillsUSA promotes skilled trade education throughout the US and works with WorldSkills International to shine a light on these individuals.

Students compete in the Automotive Service SkillsUSA competition at Ivy Tech Fort Wayne

Thirty-six high schoolers competed to see who has the skills needed to become an outstanding technician during Regionals for the Automotive Service category.

“The SkillsUSA program is a great opportunity for local high school students to show off their skill sets within the automotive trade,” says Nick Goodnight, Ph.D., assistant department chair of Automotive and Diesel Technology. “The automotive profession is a great industry to get in and creates a great career.”

The top five students of each regional competition move on to the next round. The winners were chosen based on how well they performed in the various categories. Students competed in skills like electrical soldering and meter usage, HVAC identification, automotive transmission and engine component identification and application, and braking and suspension systems diagnosis.

Automotive is just one of 88 trade areas that compete. Ivy Tech Fort Wayne also played host to the Baking and Pastry Arts competition. Snider High School and Anthis Career Academy Senior Celeste Julian placed second in the competition.

The culinary competition requires students to make clear soup, fabricate a chicken, cook chicken breasts, make sauces, and cook vegetables. Thirteen culinary students were competing, but only the top six move on to the state finals.

With any SkillsUSA competition, students have the chance to move from regionals to state to nationals and then possibly to worlds. The national competition for every program is happening June 19 through the 23 in Atlanta, GA.

Anyone interested in future competitions can visit the SkillsUSA website to see the exciting opportunities available. Again, this is open to middle schoolers, high schoolers, and postsecondary students.

Ivy Tech Fort Wayne culinary students gifted free uniforms from college alumna

From left: Island Scrubs owner Lynn Haffner and Dean of the School of Business, Logistics and Supply Chain and the School of Public Affairs and Social Services Eric Allmon

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne recently received a donation of chef uniforms estimated to be worth $1500. Dozens of chef jackets, pants, aprons, and hats were included in the donation from Lynn Haffner, owner of Island Scrubs and Ivy Tech alumna.

“We are extremely grateful for the gifts from Island Scrubs,” says Aaron Parkinson, Program Chair of Hospitality Administration. “Because of their generosity, we have been able to provide several uniforms to students who have been unable to purchase their own.”

Haffner attended Ivy Tech Fort Wayne in the 90’s as part of the former Medical Assistant program. She took over Island Scrubs five years ago selling medical and culinary scrubs but decided last year to keep the store’s focus at its new location on medical. While she tried to figure out what to do with the extra culinary uniforms, she thought of her alma mater.

“Ivy Tech gave me a push to find out who I am and what I could do and really changed the trajectory of my life,” Haffner says. “30 years later, I realized there was an opportunity to pay it forward and help current students who may need extra assistance.”

Tire blowout leads to surprise that doesn’t fall flat

When Helina Mcphail came late into her Automotive Technology class one day, she didn’t know she was in for a big surprise. Just the day before, a tire had blown out on her car—luckily, she was safe, but she started to worry about how to afford a replacement.

From left: Automotive Technology student Helina Mcphail and Belle Tire Director of Retail Operations Dustin Young

“I started joking about it with my classmates,” says Mcphail. “I was saying things like ‘hey, want to go fix my tire?’”

During class that day, Dustin Young the Director of Retail Operations at Belle Tire had been speaking about job recruitment for the various Fort Wayne locations. He happened to overhear Helina’s conversation with her classmates.

“He came over to me and was like, ‘you need a tire?’ Then next thing I know, I have two free tires.”

According to Young, they both went to check out the situation with Mcphail’s car. Upon further inspection, not only did they find one but two blown out tires. She explains that she had been driving on the rims of her tires due to an issue in alignment which caused quick wear and tear. Young ran over to the Lima Rd. Belle Tire location and paid for two new tires that he gave to Mcphail.

“When you’re a college student, you just have so much going on,” says Young. “We always try to help people out that need help, and thankfully I have the ability to go get some tires and give them to people that need them.”

Mcphail is now working to realign her tires to make sure the blow outs don’t happen again any time soon, and she positively beams as she remembers Young’s generosity.

“It was a blessing,” says Mcphail. “I was so thankful for it. It made my whole day.”

Flight simulator donation brings new opportunities to Ivy Tech Fort Wayne students

Back row from left: Clark Winans, Aaron Jamison, Paul Hopkins, Sophia Layos; Front row from left: Aviation Technology instructor Dan Leonard, Chancellor Dr. Kim Barnett-Johnson, Dean of the School of Manufacturing, Engineering, and Applied Sciences Deborah Pitzer

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne is adding FAA-approved flight simulator training to its Aviation Technology curriculum after receiving a generous donation valued up to $200,000.

The Precision Flight Controls DCX MAX NG simulator allows students to earn some credit towards their licenses and can save them up to $200 an hour. It doesn’t take the place of actual aircraft training but serves as a safe way to gain needed experience.

“Someone who has never flown in their lifetime can safely learn the ropes while using this simulator,” says Dan Leonard, an Ivy Tech Aviation Technology instructor. “It’s a great tool for our students and community members to keep up on vital techniques and skills.”

This instrument allows users to experience a virtual reality that allows them to achieve, train, and maintain proficiency in the operation of an airplane without the risk to a person or property. Users have the ability to “fly” anywhere in the country and train through different types of weather.

“With the simulator, students can practice repeatedly to gain confidence before getting in the aircraft,” says the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous. “When you’re learning to fly, it takes you a couple months before you don’t make mistakes. This instrument allows you to learn how to not make mistakes without using natural resources. I feel students will get the maximum benefits of it with Ivy Tech.”

This simulator was donated in pieces so it could be transported to Ivy Tech. College faculty were able to put it back together and calibrate it to working condition during winter break. It’s now being used in class with students.

Dr. Kim Barnett-Johnson tests out simulator with student Sophia Layos

“Anytime we’re struggling in the air, it’s always great practice to come back down here and review what we’ve missed in the simulator,” says Paul Hopkins, student in the Aviation Technology program. “It’s the biggest help, and it saves us a lot of money.”

Ivy Tech Fort Wayne Library accepting edible book entries for festival in April

Photo from 2019 Edible Book Festival

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne is back to hosting the annual Edible Book Festival after a two-year hiatus on Apr. 3. Registration to participate is now open to the community. Applications are due by Mar. 24. Registration is only required if you plan to make an edible book.

The Edible Book Festival is an annual, worldwide event that invites participants to create edible books to be exhibited for, then enjoyed by, festival attendees. Participants create a dish based on a book, book title, or pun of a book title.

Photo from 2019 Edible Book Festival

This is the festival’s 14th year at Ivy Tech Fort Wayne, and it is open to both the northeast Indiana community and Ivy Tech Fort Wayne students and employees. Participants compete to win one of three awards: Best Design, Funniest Interpretation, or Best Tasting. 

“We welcome entries from local businesses and food artists, Ivy Tech students, staff, alumni, retirees, and anyone else who’s interested,” says Liz Metz, librarian at Ivy Tech Fort Wayne. “It is a wonderful opportunity for local businesses to interact with the community and promote themselves.”

Learn more about the festival and register online at library.ivytech.edu/ebf.


Noon to 2 p.m. Apr. 3


Ivy Tech Fort Wayne’s North Campus

Student Life Center Gym

3701 Dean Dr., Fort Wayne, IN 46835

Indiana students to get free FAFSA filing help at College Goal Sunday

Financial aid professionals will be volunteering at Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne and Warsaw and other various sites in Indiana to help college-bound students and their families open the door to financial aid during College Goal Sunday. The event is set from 2:00-4:00 p.m., February 26th, 2023, and will take place on Fort Wayne’s Coliseum Campus (3800 N Anthony Blvd.) and Warsaw (2545 Silveus Crossing).

The free program assists Indiana students in filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in one afternoon. The FAFSA form is required for students to be considered for federal and state grants, scholarships, and federal student loans at most colleges, universities, and vocational/technical schools nationwide. Due to state deadlines, the FAFSA must be filed by April 15, 2023, to be eligible for most Indiana financial aid.

“We want students to capitalize on every opportunity they can that makes going to college affordable, no matter what field or industry they pursue or where they find themselves on their educational journey,” said Dr. Sue Ellspermann, President of Ivy Tech. “Ivy Tech is proud to host events like College Goal Sunday that align with the goals of the State of Indiana and the Commission for Higher Education, as we strive to achieve a statewide FAFSA completion rate of at least 60 percent this year.”

Now in its 34th year, College Goal Sunday has helped more than 94,000 Indiana students and families complete the FAFSA properly and on time. College Goal Sunday is a charitable program of the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association (ISFAA).

College Goal Sunday Doubles the Help Offered

“The event on February 26th will be the first of two College Goal Sunday events ISFAA is offering this FAFSA filing season.” said Bill Wozniak, co-chair of College Goal Sunday. “We hope all Hoosiers take advantage of College Goal Sunday, file the FAFSA, and get one step closer to fulfilling their educational goals.”

What students should bring

Students should attend College Goal Sunday with their parent(s) or guardian(s), and parent(s) should bring completed 2021 IRS 1040 tax returns, W-2 Forms and other 2021 income and benefits information. Students who worked should also bring their income information. Students 24 years of age or older may attend alone and bring their completed 2021 IRS 1040 tax return, W-2 Form or other 2021 income and benefits information. Students and parent(s) are encouraged to apply for their U.S. Department of Education FSA IDs at www.studentaid.gov before logging in to the event.

Volunteers will walk through the online form line-by-line and answer families’ individual questions as needed. All sites offer FAFSA online capabilities, and many have Spanish interpreters. A complete list of sites is available at www.collegegoalsunday.org

Attendees may win a scholarship from College Goal Sunday

Students may also win one of five $1,000 scholarships. Students who attend College Goal Sunday and submit a completed evaluation form will automatically be entered in a drawing for a $1,000 scholarship. The winners will be notified in spring and scholarships will be sent directly to the higher education institution selected by the winning students.

21st Century Scholars benefit

21st Century Scholars are income-eligible students who sign a contract in the seventh or eighth grade promising they will graduate from high school, meet grade point requirements, fulfill a pledge of good citizenship, and apply for college financial aid. Upon high school completion, Scholars who have fulfilled the commitment and demonstrate financial need receive state funds to help cover their college tuition and fees for up to eight semesters at eligible Indiana public colleges or an equal dollar amount at eligible Indiana private colleges. To fulfill their pledge scholars must submit a completed FAFSA form on time, College Goal Sunday can help.

Program is a national model

College Goal Sunday originated right here in Indiana and is now a national model. Following Indiana’s example, College Goal Sunday events organized by more than 34 states have opened doors to higher education for hundreds of thousands of students all over the country.

For more information about College Goal Sunday visit www.collegegoalsunday.org.

Ivy Tech Fort Wayne/Warsaw, General Motors team up for national initiative to impact manufacturing industry

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne and Warsaw was recently selected as one of just seven colleges nationwide to receive a $40,000 grant, sourced by General Motors funds, through the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) as part of a new national initiative.

From left: Ivy Tech Fort Wayne/Warsaw Chancellor Dr. Kim Barnett-Johnson & GM Fort Wayne Assembly Executive Director Gary Duff

“Over the next year, GM and Fort Wayne Assembly will work closely with Ivy Tech to learn how we can better train and attract talent for the advanced manufacturing jobs of the future – right here in Northeast Indiana,” says Gary Duff, Executive Director of the General Motors Fort Wayne Assembly Plant. “This study will benefit not just GM but manufacturing companies both in the region and nationwide.”

The grant funds a year and a half long study that shares best practices for integrating advanced manufacturing credentials into college curriculum. The seven colleges selected are located near GM facilities and will take part in the initial study that explores options that launch individuals into higher skills and higher wage opportunities.  

“The manufacturing world keeps evolving with the development of new technology,” says Dr. Kim Barnett-Johnson, Chancellor of Ivy Tech Fort Wayne and Warsaw. “To keep pace with these advancements, this grant will help us find ways to retain high-value instructors who currently work in the industry and develop new curricula that leaves our students workforce-ready after graduation.”

Sam Barker, former Ivy Tech student & electrician at GM Fort Wayne Assembly

Ivy Tech is already working closely with other community partners to keep up with the advancements in the manufacturing industries. In 2020, Ivy Tech became the education partner for the Northeast Indiana Chapter of the Indiana Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education (NEINFAME), allowing for the creation of new programs designed to meet the needs of the region’s manufacturing employers. This grant will help guide the college to continue developing forward-focused education.

“During my time at Ivy Tech, I had a chance to slow down and dig deeper into the skills I’m using now,” says Sam Barker, an electrician at GM Fort Wayne and former Ivy Tech student. “The industry is fast-paced and always changing, so I believe this will be a big benefit to current and future students and our area’s manufacturing industry.”

Ivy Tech Fort Wayne massage clinic reopens for spring semester

Healthy Essence, the student-run massage clinic at Ivy Tech Community College’s Fort Wayne campus, will open to the public this semester from Feb. 13 to May 6. Students from the Therapeutic Massage program will provide hour-long full-body relaxation massages. The following hours are available by appointment:

First 8-Weeks (Feb. 13 – Mar. 11)

Monday- 10, 11 a.m. & 1 p.m.

Tuesday- 11:30 a.m. & 1:00, 2:30, 4:00, 5:30, 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday- 11:30 a.m. & 1:00, 2:30, 4:00 p.m.

Thursday- None

Friday- 10:00, 11:30 a.m. & 1:00, 2:30, 4:00 p.m.

Saturday- 10:00, 11:30 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.

Second 8-Weeks (Mar. 20 – May 6)

Monday- None

Tuesday- 11:30 a.m. & 1:00, 2:30, 4:00, 6:00, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday- None

Thursday- None

Friday- 10:00, 11:30 a.m. & 1:00, 2:30, 4:00 p.m.

Saturday- 10:00, 11:30 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.

The clinic will be closed for spring break Mar. 13 through Mar. 17.

Massages are $30 for the community and $25 for Ivy Tech employees and students, military personnel, and those 55 and older. The clinic accepts payment in cash and credit card. Tips are not accepted, but clients can donate to a charity chosen by the students.

To make an appointment, call 260-480-2094. Note: Clients are permitted to schedule two massages per month.


Ivy Tech Fort Wayne Coliseum Campus (CC1739)

3800 N. Anthony Blvd.

Fort Wayne, IN 46805