VALPARAISO | University of Phoenix Northwest Indiana campus held commencement ceremonies Sept. 29 at the Valparaiso University Union Harre Ballroom.
More than 165 area students who have studied online or attended classes at its Northwest Indiana campus were recognized. The most popular programs among the graduates are associate degrees in Health Care Administration, bachelor degrees in Business Management and master’s degrees of Business Administration.
Approximately 800 family members attended the commencement ceremony.
This year’s student speakers were Sherri Green, Carmen Kimble and Alisha Littlejohn-Hayes.
Green, mother of three from Indianapolis, is considered a "walking miracle" by her family and friends. After nearly dying in a road accident, she underwent 14 surgeries and months of physical therapy.
Her near-death experience changed her outlook on life and she decided to continue her education. Because of her recovery, she needed an online program and graduated with an associate degree in information technology, with a concentration in web design. She now plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Kimble is a faculty member who graduated with a doctorate in management and organizational leadership. A postmaster with the U. S. Postal Service, her career with USPS spans more than 34 years.
She manages a medium-size group of carriers and clerks engaged in mail processing, delivery, and retail service activities as well as the operating budget, vehicles, equipment and facilities. She implements corporate strategies that promote financial accountability, customer service, and employee development and is also responsible for all safety programs.
At 23, Littlejohn-Hayes is the first member of her family to obtain a degree, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in health administration and health management, not an easy task for a mother who also works full-time. She credits the University of Phoenix with helping her achieve her educational goals while being able to maintain a healthy balance between school, work and family.
This year’s keynote speaker was Byron Ernest, Indiana’s 2010 Teacher of the Year.
A resident of Sheridan, in Hamilton County, Ernest joined the University of Phoenix faculty in January, 2010 to teach bachelor’s and master’s courses in education, as well as leadership programs.
A distinguished educator, in 2011 Ernest received the Smithsonian Institution Diffusion Award, the Purdue Ag Alumni Certificate of Distinction and the Inspire College Mentor Education Award. In 2010, Ernest was named the inaugural winner of the 2010 Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation’s Outstanding Agriscience Educator Award. The annual Teacher of the Year awards are sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers.