• Campus: Lafayette
• Degree of Study: Criminal Justice
Education always was important to Tenecia Waddell-Pyle and her family – dating back to 1955 when her grandparents moved from Mississippi to Michigan because of opportunity in the state’s thriving automotive industry. Her grandparents, in fact, prominently displayed framed photos of each child and grandchild from their high school and college graduations in their Detroit home.
“I knew I wanted my picture at grandma’s house, too,” Tenecia recalled fondly.
Tenecia, who earned criminal justice degrees from Ivy Tech and from Indiana University through IUPUI, got her wish. But her life is more than diplomas. Tenecia has made an impact on countless lives in Indiana and across the U.S. – as a mother, a police officer, a crisis center director, and now as the director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at MyPath, an organization with eight companies and 150 locations focusing on individual and family services in Wisconsin and Indiana.
Tenecia’s Ivy Tech journey started in 1996 when she was still at Lafayette Jefferson High School. She took general education classes through Ivy Tech to get a jump start on her college education. Tenecia eventually moved on to Purdue University where she studied biology, but her education was put on hold to raise her family.
Fast forward to 2012. Her three boys were getting older, and Tenecia was itching to re-start her education and career. Enrolling again at Ivy Tech felt like a natural choice.
“I was a full-time police officer, a full-time mom with three active sons, a single mom … I wanted to grow and reach the next level of my career, and I needed to create an opportunity,” Tenecia said. “I also had challenges that I would not get away from and still make a livable wage for my children unless I got a degree.”
“I’d already had great experiences with Ivy Tech,” Tenecia added. “I always enjoyed being involved in the community, and I always saw Ivy Tech as an inclusive environment. The choice was easy: it’s where I started and made connections.”
Tenecia enrolled at Ivy Tech’s Lafayette campus in 2012 and earned a degree in criminal justice, graduating with honors in 2014. She studied on weekends and in the evenings with her sons who, she joked, made sure she got her homework done. Today, Tenecia is first director of DEI at MyPath.
“I am passionate about my work because, in the past, I have not always felt included,” Tenecia said. “I am honored to drive learning and promote a safe environment for people. Creating an environment where people can bring their authentic selves to work allows everyone to thrive. They feel comfortable and safe, and that translates into helping people who are vulnerable.”
Tenecia also was a project consultant for implementing Indiana’s 988 platform, the country’s mental health safety net – giving people in crisis or emotional distress an opportunity to seek help.
She credits Ivy Tech, and the people around her, for facilitating her success.
“You don’t always need to have a traditional college path,” Tenecia said. “Believe in yourself and your journey; go for what will help you evolve and let life take its course.”
Hear more of her story>>