Ivy Tech Fort Wayne hosts lunch buffet series

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne’s Hospitality Administration students are hosting a series of lunch buffets open to the community at Coliseum Campus (3800 N. Anthony Blvd.) most Thursdays in February. It’s an opportunity to have students get a real-world restaurant experience.

The dates and their respective lunches are as follows:

  • Feb. 2 – Lunch buffet featuring pork rillette, Provençal chicken, pike quenelles, and desserts
  • Feb. 9 – Three-course tasting menu
  • Feb. 23À la carte menu

Lunches will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $15 per person. Guests must reserve their spot beforehand. Lunches are limited to 35 people, so those interested will need to RSVP as soon as possible by going to link.ivytech.edu/lunchbuffet.

Ivy Tech Fort Wayne announces student winners of annual European Competition for study abroad experience

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne hosted its annual European Competition on Friday. Ten Hospitality Administration students in culinary arts or baking and pastry arts spent the day competing for a chance to win a scholarship that would fund a trip to study culinary arts in Italy this spring.

2023 European Competition winners from left: Grant Wolfe, Natalie Wright, Ashlyn Young, Isabelle Sims, Maggie Becraft, Esther Powers, and Kattia Tarnow.

Seven students won the opportunity to travel to Italy: Grant Wolfe, Natalie Wright, Ashlyn Young, Isabelle Sims, Maggie Becraft, Esther Powers, and Kattia Tarnow.

“We’re so excited to be able to reward our Hospitality Administration students with this incredible opportunity,” says Amanda Parkinson, Hospitality Administration program chair. “It’s so hard to narrow down the winners because everyone has worked so hard the past two years. They all did amazing, and we’re really proud.”

Culinary students prepared a meal with an appetizer; an entrée with a protein, vegetable, and starch; and a dessert. Baking students prepared items including plated chocolate and fruit desserts, yeast bread and rolls, and a decorated cake.

Kitchen judges watched and rated students as they worked, paying attention to technique and ability. Floor judges blind tasted the completed meals. Judges based their scores on American Culinary Federation (ACF) criteria, and to be considered for the European trip, students must place at bronze standard or higher.

Based on students’ experiences in Italy, they will create the menu for this year’s A Reason to Taste, the College’s largest annual fundraiser. Money raised at A Reason to Taste funds scholarships for the winning students’ European trips.

“I’ve never done anything like this before and appreciate getting the chance to compete,” says Maggie Becraft. “Going to Italy was always something that I dreamed about, but I never knew I’d get to experience it while also learning new things about a subject I love. I think the fact that Ivy Tech offers opportunities like this for us is amazing.”

Drive and a dream: Caleb DeKeyser’s life working in luxury

Every year, two select groups of 12 people are chosen to spend six months in the Golden State with a goal of becoming certified Porsche technicians. Imagine Caleb DeKeyser’s excitement when Porsche chose him for the program—thanks, in part, to an Automotive Technology degree and guidance from Ivy Tech Fort Wayne faculty.

Caleb DeKeyser | ’21 Automotive Tech Grad; provided by Caleb DeKeyser

Caleb describes his experience at the Porsche Technology Apprenticeship Program (PTAP) as a “bootcamp” for all things Porsche. It involves spending half a year in California while living in housing the company provides and dedicating nearly every day to working on cars. He says the knowledge he gained there could’ve filled an entire year. But when you work with Porsche, it’s quality over everything else.

“It’s basically everything that’s within other car companies magnified times ten because you’re not working on a $20,000 car, you’re working on a $200,000 car,” Caleb says.

It wasn’t just luck that earned him his place in PTAP. Hard work got him to where he is today, a trait he’s carried from a young age.

As an early teen, the Michigander saved up money to buy a dirt bike. He says he and his brother liked to tinker with and modify it. From dirt bikes, they experimented with four-wheelers before moving on to cars. Caleb loved working with all aspects of it, from maintenance to performance.

“We liked going fast, the thrill of it, and when I bought cars, I’d always liked going off-roading and driving fast.”

Working with performance cars became his dream. So, when his parents moved from northern Michigan to Angola, Ind., he went off to Tennessee for college in hopes of making that dream come true. He was only there a year before he needed a change, so he opted for a school close to home: Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne.

Caleb didn’t foresee himself working with luxury cars, but he put in the work for an Automotive Technology technical certificate. Not only did he squeeze three semesters into two, but he also worked part time while commuting to and from Angola.

Porsche Technology Apprenticeship Program (PTAP) in California; provided by Caleb DeKeyser

“If you pay attention and get as much out of it as you can, then you can do some damage in the shop.”

His effort paid off as teachers took notice. Caleb credits automotive instructor Paul Wright for noticing the work he was putting in and helping him land his dream opportunity. He says Wright got him in contact with Porsche Fort Wayne, where Caleb began working with the Audi’s while continuing his education. PTAP gave him a career boost, and he’s now a fully certified Porsche technician.

At 23, he’s living a life many people dream about: happily married, a soon-to-be father, and working a job he loves while living without college debt. But Caleb’s ambition is still strong, and he hopes one day he can open his own shop.

For those pursuing a similar path, he offers this advice: pay attention in class, work hard, and don’t let buying tools bring you into debt.

80/20 LLC, Ivy Tech Fort Wayne, and the Don Wood Foundation pioneer innovative partnership expanding employee family opportunities

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne is excited to announce a new partnership with 80/20 LLC. that extends 80/20 employees’ tuition reimbursement program to their children and grandchildren for the first time in the industry. A generous grant funds this initiative from the Don Wood Foundation to Ivy Tech.

“80/20 is honored to be awarded the Don Wood Memorial Scholarship Fund,” said Vicki Cook, HR Director at 80/20. “This will allow Don Wood’s legacy to continue with the company he built and connection he had with Ivy Tech.  We are excited to give this back to the employees, employees’ children and grandchildren.”

Through the Achieve Your Degree (AYD) initiative at Ivy Tech, eligible employees and their families can receive tuition reimbursement when they enroll into programs related to manufacturing and business. Families can also apply for the $5,000 Don Wood Foundation Scholarship by contacting the human resources department at 80/20. The decision to award the grant reflects 80/20 founder Don Wood’s love for both the company and Ivy Tech, where he received his second degree and served on the Regional Board of Trustees.

“This is a wonderful program that speaks not only Don Wood’s dedication to both Ivy Tech and 80/20, but also fits squarely into his desire to help fund scholarships for people to advance in their career,” said Don Wood Foundation President and CEO Laura Macknick. “The unique approach and focus on collaborative partnerships could serve as a pilot for similar programs in the region to help fill the need for skilled employees in the manufacturing sector.”

This pilot program was constructed to support Wood’s mission of creating more opportunities for people seeking a career in industrial trades, advanced manufacturing, leadership, and innovation. He passed away in March 2019, but his legacy lives on through the Don Wood Foundation, which has long supported Ivy Tech through programs like Northeast Indiana FAME and the WorkMatters program on Ivy Tech Muncie’s campus.

“Ivy Tech is honored to play a part in extending Don Wood’s legacy further into the community by building pathways to an invaluable education,” said Ivy Tech Fort Wayne Chancellor Kim Barnett-Johnson. “This is a pivotal opportunity for 80/20 employees and their families that strengthens our mission to meet people where they are to help them create the future they want.”

In celebration of the new partnership, 80/20 and Ivy Tech are hosting a registration fair for employees and family members interested in joining the program Jan. 6 from noon to 4 p.m. at the company which is in Columbia City. Ivy Tech enrollment specialists will be there to provide general admissions and application assistance.

Several local businesses attending Ivy Tech Fort Wayne Human Services Career Fair 

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne invites students and the community to connect with employers at the Human Services Mini Career and Job Fair Wednesday, Dec. 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Anthony Commons on Coliseum Campus. 

Representatives from more than a dozen local businesses and organizations will be there to discuss their companies and the opportunities available. Those attending include: 

  • Bowen Center 
  • Parkview Health 
  • Amani Family Services 
  • Lutheran Health Network 
  • Goodwill Industries of Northeast Indiana 

Lunch will be provided for attendees from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. while supplies last. No reservations required. If you have any questions, contact Anh Dinh Lapsley at alapsley6@ivytech.edu.  


11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 7 


Ivy Tech Fort Wayne Coliseum Campus 

Anthony Commons, Door 50 

3800 N. Anthony Blvd. 

Fort Wayne, IN 46804 

Crashing through barriers: Mariana Garcia takes on the world of collision repair

Mariana Garcia stumbled across her love of cars by accident. Though she didn’t have prior experience in the field, taking vocational automotive classes seemed like a fun way to bypass regular classes. What she didn’t predict: breaking the mold as a Hispanic woman pursuing a career in collision repair.

It hasn’t been an easy road to get where she is today. Mariana works as an estimator with Gerber Collision after spending a few years working in an auto shop at a Ford Dealership in her hometown of Kendallville. In her current role, she acts as a liaison between customers and insurance companies after there’s been an accident.

“A lot of people request a man’s opinion,” she shares. “I run into that a lot, but my manager just backs me up.”

According to DATA USA, the collision repair industry is made up of more than 90% men. While those numbers cause unfair stereotypes for women, Mariana says men face them, too. She believes this can be a career for anyone.

“I would like for more people to see that you don’t have to be that stereotype. I think anyone should do it just cause it’s fun and something great to learn.”

Beyond public opinion, Mariana’s parents also weren’t interested in the idea of their daughter working with cars because it didn’t fit their cultural norms. She says her mother would be embarrassed to tell their family in Mexico about her passion. Mariana took a gap year after high school trying to convince herself to do something else, but her love for the automotive industry won out, and she ended up close to home at Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne.

Mariana joined the Automotive Technology program and specialized in Collision Repair. It’s a hands-on program that allows students to gain experience with the latest technology and builds proficiency in basic automotive maintenance. She says they went through everything from painting to body work. Mariana graduated with an A.A.S. in Automotive Technology in 2017 and was awarded a technical certificate in Auto Body Repair later that year.

Looking back, she’s grateful for the help of professors like Nick Goodnight, assistant department chair of Diesel Technology, Bob Huffman, department chair of Automotive Technology, and Jaron Grayless, former instructor and current manager at Gerber Automotive, who would take the time to sit down with her and other students one-on-one to go over questions they might have had about class material.

After working in the field for a few years, Mariana says what she learned at Ivy Tech prepared her for working in auto body shops, the front office, and could eventually boost her up to management, which is her goal. However, she aspires to be the best at what she’s doing now before she gets to that point, hoping to break the misconceptions some people have about the field.

“Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m accepted. But showing my work ethic and knowledge, I feel like they’re left speechless.”

Today, Mariana has her parents’ support. She says they think what she’s doing is “cool”. She hopes her story will inspire others who are thinking about going into the automotive industry to forget the stereotypes and take the leap. It’s a growing field that’s constantly in demand. To other women who think they might want to pursue a similar career, Mariana offers this advice:

“Be patient, be confident, and be okay with failing.”

Ivy Tech Foundation’s Women in Philanthropy – Circle of Ivy awards more than $260,000 to Campuses

Ivy Tech Foundation’s Women in Philanthropy Circle of Ivy awarded $263,649 to 84 projects at its seventh annual Circle of Ivy Gathering on Friday, November 4. The initiative raises funds to make access to higher education easier for Ivy Tech Community College students. Circle of Ivy has a statewide reach, with a focus specifically on campus needs and projects that positively impact students. 

Several projects from Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne and Warsaw received funding:

  • Helping Hands Emergency Funds (Fort Wayne)- $1,900
  • Rent and Utility Fund (Fort Wayne)- $1,900
  • The Disability Sensory Services Sensory Positive Study Room (Fort Wayne)- $953
  • Coffee with a Professor (Fort Wayne)- $942
  • Helping Hands Emergency Funds (Warsaw)- $3,000
  • Emergency Transportation Funds (Warsaw)- $1,600
  • Basics Bank Supply Pantry (Warsaw)- $1,100
  • Thanksgiving Meal-in-a-Box (Warsaw)- $500

“At Ivy Tech, we believe in a mission that creates resources and breaks down barriers to higher education for our students,” said Dr. Kim Barnett-Johnson, chancellor of Ivy Tech Fort Wayne and Warsaw. “Our local Circle of Ivy chapters have grown from 8 to 70 members since its inception in 2016. It’s encouraging to see this program thrive and witness our students walk better, more accessible paths toward success because of our generous donors.”

The projects funded this year give students easier access to educational opportunities by tackling the issue of food insecurity and providing things like transportation and rent and utility assistance.

“This organization has done so much over the years and continues to provide transformative experiences for Ivy Tech students. When women join together, we are a force for good. We are so proud of all the projects that have been funded by the Circle of Ivy,” said Courtney Roberts, President of the Ivy Tech Foundation.

Since its inception in 2015, Circle of Ivy has grown to more than 1,000 members. In seven years, the members have raised more than $1 million to assist with 384 projects.

To learn more about Circle of Ivy visit ivytech.edu/circleofivy.

Donation drives Ivy Tech Fort Wayne Diesel Technology students to new opportunities

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne’s Diesel Technology program has recently received a new PACCAR MX-13 engine from Palmer Trucks, a full-service Kenworth dealership serving Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois, valued up to $40,000 when brand new.

Students in the program take a hands-on approach to the industry, working with new technology and the latest trends in a fast-growing field. Department leaders say this engine will serve as a critical learning tool because it ensures students will have the necessary knowledge of current machinery.

“PACCAR Engines are a leading, quality brand, and are the engine of choice for Kenworth and Peterbilt-brand commercial trucks, which together account for more than 30 percent of the medium and heavy-duty truck market,” says Brad Knipp, service manager of Kenworth of Fort Wayne. “This engine will serve as a learning resource for Ivy Tech students to find meaningful, stable and long-term employment with Fort Wayne mainstays like Palmer Trucks.”

“By utilizing the state of the art, real world components in our curriculum, our graduates are ready to take on any challenge they might meet in the truck repair industry,” says Nick Goodnight, chair of the Diesel Technology program at Ivy Tech Fort Wayne.

Interested in Ivy Tech’s Diesel Technology program? Visit ivytech.edu/diesel-tech or contact Goodnight at ngoodnight@ivytech.edu or 260-480-4293.

Ivy Tech Warsaw to host public First Responders Career Fair

Ivy Tech Community College Warsaw is hosting a First Responders career fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on September 18. This event is designed to connect Ivy Tech Warsaw students and interested community members with first responders from the Kosciusko County area. Attendees can meet with local first responders and interact with an emergency helicopter; police, fire, and ambulance vehicles; and more.

The following are a few first responder agencies that will be participating in this event:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Lutheran Air
  • Lutheran EMS
  • Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office
  • Indiana Department of Correction

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 18
Helicopter arriving at 12 p.m. and departing at 2 p.m.

Ivy Tech Warsaw
2545 Silveus Crossing
Warsaw, IN 46582

Keeping it in the (human services) family

It took Silena Kester a few attempts to find the right fit at Ivy Tech Northeast, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The first time she enrolled, her daughter Zoi (pronouned “ZO-ee”) Hillenberg, now 19, was a first-grader. Silena started as a nursing major, and she was one of the best in the class at the book work, she remembers. But A&P–anatomy and physiology–got to her. With three young kids, Silena didn’t have the time she needed to memorize all the material.

So she switched to paralegal studies.

Silena Kester, standing, and her daughter Zoi Hillenberg. Silena graduated with an associate degree in human services from Ivy Tech Northeast in 2011; Zoi just started the program this semester.

Silena Kester, standing, and her daughter Zoi Hillenberg. Silena graduated with an associate degree in human services from Ivy Tech Northeast in 2011; Zoi just started the program this semester.

“I didn’t want to be a factory rat,” she says. “I watched my mom do it for years, and I didn’t want to do it.”

She graduated with her associate degree at the top of her class, but her unwillingness to move made it difficult to find a job, she says. She found an unrelated job at a company that closed in 2009, so she gave Ivy Tech Northeast another try–this time in human services.

“There was no doubt in my mind at that point,” says Silena, of Waterloo, Ind. “It was human services.”

Silena earned her associate degree in 2011 and her bachelor’s from Trine University in 2012. Today, she is working on her master’s degree online at Boston University and hopes to graduate in 2017. She is also working at the Indiana Professional Management Group, though she plans to one day open her own group home for those who have aged out of foster care.

And, she hopes, she’ll one day be able to hire her daughter, Zoi, who graduated from DeKalb High School in June 2014 and started at Ivy Tech Northeast in human services in August. One day, Silena says, she hopes to run the company with Zoi, who wants to go into counseling.

Zoi plans to graduate in two years, but she’s not sure if her coursework will take longer; she is due to deliver her son, Bou (pronounced “BO”), in March and plans to take online classes in spring 2015.

“It’s interesting to learn,” Zoi says of her course work. “It helps me in my profession now, the clients that I have.”

Zoi works with developmentally disabled clients through Community Living, which helps its clients become self-sufficient.

Silena has experienced human services classes at three different schools now, but she touts Ivy Tech as providing the best education.

“I think every person who goes into human services needs to start at Ivy Tech,” says Silena, who points out that even some master’s-level classes review things she learned at Ivy Tech Northeast. “I went to Trine with some people who didn’t have the same fundamentals I did, and they struggled more than I did.”