For Dawn Tague and Courtney Thomas, Monday was the beginning of the end.
Tague and Thomas are both students at Ivy Tech Kokomo, where they are studying to become registered nurses. Monday was the start of their final semester at the Kokomo community college.
About two years ago, Tague decided she wanted to continue her education. She wanted to gain new skills and practical knowledge. She currently works as a licensed practical nurse, but she wanted to train to become an RN.
Thomas works as certified nursing assistant, and like Tague, she wanted to further her education. She has four children, and she said she wants to be able to provide more for them.
“I decided to go back to school to give them a better life,” Thomas said.
The two chose Ivy Tech because of its cost and its nursing program.
“It’s cheap; it’s close to home; it’s a good program,” Tague said.
Though Monday was the start of the new semester at Ivy Tech Kokomo, neither Tague nor Thomas had a full summer off. After about three weeks of vacation, they started taking classes again. But even with summer classes, there’s something about the first day of a new semester, Tague said.
“Always, the first day, you’re in that refresher mode because you’re out of vacation; you’re back into the mindset of focusing on classwork,” Tague said.
Both students said they hope to work at a hospital after finishing the nursing program.
Ariana Johnson started her first day at Ivy Tech, where she plans to study criminal justice. She graduated from Kokomo High School in 2016 and said she’s excited to start taking college classes.
Johnson chose Ivy Tech because of the cost, adding that she is paying for college by herself. She plans to transfer to Indiana University Kokomo after earning her associate degree, and she said the community college’s transfer pathways, which allow students to take classes that will automatically transfer to other public colleges in the state, make transferring to a four-year university convenient.
Kimberly King, who was appointed as chancellor of the Ivy Tech Kokomo campus following a college-wide restructuring, said the campus is looking forward to a semester full of changes, including new course offerings in biology and chemistry.
As part of the college’s restructuring, each campus will begin focusing more heavily on high-demand jobs, including business, manufacturing and industrial technology.
“[Ivy Tech is trying to] Identify where the careers are, the needs, and then respond so that we’re meeting those needs,” King said. “It’s always been the college’s mission. It’s always been a part of who we are. We’re trying to be more strategic now. Everything now is more data driven.”
Indiana University Kokomo also started its fall semester Monday, introducing new programs, such as a new computer science degree and sports nutrition program.
Jared Heard, a freshman from New Castle, will play on the school’s baseball team. He moved into the Annex apartments across the street from the campus and is living with other players on the team.
Heard knew he wanted to attend IUK after visiting the campus on a high school tour.
“[The campus] is really nice,” he said. “It’s nicer than I thought.”
He added that he enjoyed his classes Monday.
“I thought the teachers were going to be harder,” he said. “But they were pretty good.”
Heard is planning to major in education and minor in psychology.
Both Ivy Tech Kokomo and IUK are hosting welcome week events to celebrate the new semester. Ivy Tech Kokomo is handing out coffee and donuts in the morning at its main building. IUK will have free food at various times throughout the week, as well a campus barbecue Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7:30 in the campus quad.