With miniature donuts and ice cream, a faculty member turned DJ, and about a dozen four-year university booths, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana’s Welcome Fest had much to offer to both current and aspiring students.
“We host this in the fall and in the spring, usually indoors,” Director of Student Life April Gabbert said. “A lot of other campuses are either going virtual or they canceled their events. At Valpo and Michigan City, we have the space to be able to pull this off outside, get our colleges out here, and to get some of our student organizations out as well. It gives students the chance to come on campus if they want, even if they are taking virtual classes, and enjoy a little bit of the fun Ivy Tech can offer them.”
The circle drive at the entrance to the building was lined with tables of four-year transfer institutions that are partners with Ivy Tech. At these tables, representatives were available to talk with students and prospective students alike about the institutions they represented and what their relationship with Ivy Tech looked like.
Five of Ivy Tech’s student organizations were also represented at the Welcome Fest to get students further involved with the school and community. The Student Government Association encouraged current students to take a survey to check in on how they were doing with both virtual and on-site classes to ensure they felt safe and accommodated in both environments. Along with these organizations, Ivy Tech also had a table to promote the 2020 census.
Assistant Director of Admissions Rachel Scanlon feels the Welcome Fest is particularly important and helpful to students in society’s current climate.
“We want students to know what Ivy Tech has to offer, especially right now with all the confusion,” Scanlon said. “We want to be available to students. We’ve actually seen a lot of the non-traditional students wanting to enroll with everything happening with COVID. It’s scary, and a lot of people realize that maybe their fields aren’t as secure as they thought, so they want to come back. We’re here to get that information, get them through the steps, and register for classes.”
While walking to the front of the building at Ivy Tech’s Valparaiso location, students were initially greeted by the scent of delicious desserts wafting through the parking lot. Students and potential students were able to connect with Ivy Tech staff and get a ticket to exchange for their choice of a turtle, Oreo, or pumpkin-flavored dessert from the Stations Food Truck by Decadent Flavor, which is a local donut shop run by Sonia Payton.
Guests were able to enjoy their donuts and ice cream while listening to upbeat music, courtesy of the Program Chair for the Paramedic Science Program at Ivy Tech, Jeff Lawley. While attending Valparaiso University, Lawley had to pay as he went, so he picked up some odd jobs. One of those jobs was DJing for Entertainment Express in Portage. He picked up DJing once again five years ago when his mother requested he DJ for her 40th-anniversary party.
“I’ve been here for five years and I had always told April from Student Life that if they had events, rather than spending the Student Life money, I would just do it for free,” Lawley said.
Gabbert felt fortunate that Ivy Tech was still able to host its Welcome Fest this fall despite COVID interference. She believes a sense of unity during these times is key.
“My overall theme, even though we can’t decorate, is ‘Together We Rise,’” she said. “No matter what situation, we are still the Ivy Tech family, and we’re here to support our students”
Ivy Tech’s Michigan City location hosted a similar event on September 9. Those interested in starting classes this October in Valparaiso, Michigan City, or La Porte are encouraged to RSVP for Express Enrollment Week coming up September 21-25. To RSVP and learn more, visit ivytech.edu/EEDay.