The Star – November 20, 2014
AUBURN — More and more people are looking at education beyond high school, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said Wednesday.
“Access is important,” Lubbers said, but she added, “Access without completion is a fairly hollow victory.”
Lubbers spoke to leaders from the DeKalb County Career Success Coalition in Auburn during a Career Success Summit at Bridgewater Golf Club.
The coalition’s mission is to guide an increasing number of young students and adults to education beyond high school, resulting in apprenticeships, work-skills certifications, military job training and two- and four-year degrees.
Lubbers said her agency can partner with the coalition to help achieve its goals.
The local coalition has established a goal that by 2018, 70 percent of DeKalb County high school graduates would enter a two- or four-year college in the fall following high school graduation. That goal was set off a baseline of 57 percent reported in 2011.
The coalition also has set a goal that by 2018, 15 percent of DeKalb County high school graduates will earn a credential at an Indiana public two-or four-year college within four years of high school graduation. In 2007, that figure was 5 percent, Knox said.
Lubbers said Indiana has set a goal that by 2025, 60 percent of Hoosiers will have quality degrees and credentials beyond high school. Currently the rate is about 34 percent, she added.
DeKalb High School graduate Marycruz Mendoza gave an inspiring account of her road to enrolling in the Associated Accelerated Program at Ivy Tech Community College. The program allows students to obtain an associate’s degree in one year.
Mendoza said she was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. She said the neighborhood in which she grew up was dangerous, and she would walk to school in fear of getting hurt.
“I realized that this was not a safe place to be, and we needed to move,” Mendoza added.
Mendoza and her family moved to Auburn when she was 10, and her first year of school in DeKalb County went well. Spanish was her first language, and her English improved greatly, she said. She also made lots of new friends.
In the years that followed, Mendoza said, she was the target of bullies and she went from being an eight-year, straight-A student to a student who was failing in some classes.
Her life took a turn for the better after she was accepted into the Impact Institute and then Ivy Tech’s ASAP program. In addition to her studies, she holds a part-time job at a hotel and helps to support her mother and two younger sisters.
“I know the sense of pride that I’ll feel when I walk across that stage in May,” Mendoza said as she looked ahead to her graduation. “It will be worth it.”
During a series of presentations by coalition member organizations, Melissa Carpenter, executive director of Freedom Academy, announced the academy will partner with Ambassador Enterprises to bring programs to DeKalb County at the old YMCA building on Main Street in Auburn. Programs expected to be offered at the site include maintenance technician, heating, cooling and air conditioning, leadership and real estate. The goal is to begin offering the programs in 2015.
“For us it’s about access,” said Carpenter.