Ivy Tech Community College Valparaiso celebrated it's 2022 graduating class on Saturday at their annual commencement ceremony. This year, there were nearly 1,300 graduates, with students earning more than 1,900 degrees and certificates over the course of the year.
“Today symbolizes the culmination of hard work and dedication to educational goals for all involved,” said Aco Sikoski, Chancellor of Ivy Tech Valparaiso Campus, Michigan City, and La Porte sites. “As students, you have committed yourselves to the investment necessary for success and now stand on the verge of a new adventure.”
Sikoski called special attention to the perseverance of the 2022 graduates, as well as the faculty and staff who navigated college education during a global pandemic.
“The faculty’s teaching and training of our students provides the basis for hope, meaning, and inspiration to the lives of all of us,” he said. “They have gone above and beyond to accommodate their teaching style from in-person to online delivery methods, and back again.”
Ivy Tech Valparaiso also distributed a number of honors, including an Honorary Degree to Beth Anne Wrobel, CEO of HealthLinc Community Health Centers and member of the Valparaiso Campus’ board of trustees. She leads her organization with a patient-first, community-driven philosophy and works closely with Ivy Tech Valparaiso to help the college grow new medical students and professionals.
“Words cannot express my appreciation for receiving this degree,” Wrobel said. “I have a true privilege to support this campus. Graduates, thank you for letting me serve you in just a small way. I personally know some of you and know how you’ve had to persevere through the last few years. To say they’ve been challenging would be an understatement for all of us, but you made it through and I’m in awe of all of you.”
Ivy Tech Valparaiso also recognized this year’s Distinguished Graduate, Zackary Bernhardt. A 2013 graduate of Hobart High School, Bernhardt enlisted in the U.S. Army and served three years as a heavy vehicle operator, and later spent two years as a correctional deputy with the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office. He enrolled at Ivy Tech Valparaiso, and in 2021 was accepted into the college’s Surgical Technology Program.
Matthew Urbaniak claimed the honor of being this year’s Ivy Tech Valparaiso Distinguished Alumnus. The college wanted to celebrate his work as a safety-focused and results-driven leader as a Senior Operations Supervisor at Peoples Gas Light and Coke, as well as his volunteer efforts as a member of the Midwest Energy Association and fundraiser for the annual Special Olympics-Chicago Polar Plunge.
Before the graduates were handed their diplomas, Sikoski invited guest speaker Bill Hanna to deliver a commencement address. Hanna is the Executive Director of the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation, where he works to enhance the quality of life, promote health and wellness, stimulate economic development, and increase access to high-quality education throughout Northwest Indiana.
“I want to offer my congratulations to the Class of 2022,” he said. “I’m absolutely honored and humbled to be here and to take part in your big day. It’s truly a tremendous thing, and believe me, I don’t take this lightly.”
Sikoski also offered graduates some final thoughts as they continue on their many unique paths.
“When you exit today’s ceremony as a graduate, remember where your journey began and how you feel as you reach this milestone,” he said. “Allow those memories and feelings to fuel you throughout the remainder of your journey. Feel proud. Stand Tall. Have a sense of confidence and accomplishment as you set out to achieve your next dream.”To learn more about Ivy Tech Community College, visit www.ivytech.edu.