Distinguished Alumni Awards

Distinguished Alumni Awards

The Ivy Tech Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor given to recognize Ivy Tech Alumni. Selected through a highly competitive process, each recipient has made a lasting impact on their community and on Ivy Tech through outstanding professional, philanthropic, or volunteer accomplishments.

 

Each year, up to 18 alumni from across the state are honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award at the Distinguished Alumni Celebration.

 

The alumni honored at this event represent the very best of what an Ivy Tech education makes possible. Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends are all encouraged to submit nominations online. Learn about the criteria and selection process before you nominate.

 

2022 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


Leah Knight
Campus: Anderson

Leah graduated from Ivy Tech School of Nursing with an associate degree in 1995 while raising three children. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from IU Columbus in 2007, a master’s degree in Adult Psychiatric Nursing with honors from IUPUI in 2010, and a post-graduate certificate in Lifespan Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing from IUPUI in 2015 while working full-time with persons with chronic, persistent mental illness. She has served on the Indiana Medical History Museum board of directors, is a past president of the Indiana Chapter of the American Psychiatric Nursing Association, founded a support group for families of people with autism spectrum disorders, is a preceptor for graduate nursing students from several universities, and is a United States Army Reserve veteran. Two of her children are also Ivy Tech alumni. Leah is a board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner in rural Shelby County and the Coordinator of Psychiatric Services for the Jane Pauley Community Health Centers.

 


Steve Headdy MBA
Campus: Bloomington

In true Ivy Tech fashion, Steve was a nontraditional student. After 20+ successful years building custom homes around Monroe County, Steve enrolled at Ivy Tech Bloomington School of Nursing. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and a Master of Business Administration from Western Governors University. Steve works collaboratively with Ivy Tech Bloomington School of Nursing in his role as a Clinical Leader at IU Health Bloomington. In recognition of his leadership at IU Health, he was awarded the IU Health Foundation award for nursing excellence in 2014 and the DAISY Nurse Leader Award in 2019. Steve’s work has helped nursing students gain experience in critical care and see the excellent service his team delivers daily. He gratefully acknowledges that he would not be here today without the Ivy Tech students and faculty, team members at IU Health, and support of his wife of 27 years, Amy Headdy.

 


Joshua Shelley 
Campus: Columbus

Josh, a first-generation college graduate, obtained an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Administration in 2009 from Ivy Tech Columbus while working full time. His career in banking began after high school. From entry-level positions to every retail-banking role in the branches, Josh has been promoted several times throughout his career. He currently serves as the Vice President, District Manager for Horizon Bank and oversees 10 branches. In addition to his career achievements, Josh is an active member in his community. He is president of the Columbus chapter of Business Network International, and is an active member of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and Columbus Young Professionals.

 


Malachi Greb
Campus: Evansville

Malachi Greb, an Associate of Applied Science graduate of Ivy Tech Evansville, has spent the past 10 years sharpening his skills in the automation industry. In 2020, he launched his own company, Elite Automation, specializing in the design, programming, and installation of industrial automation systems. Malachi aspires to own and operate one of the largest companies in the world. Over the past two years, he has hired 15 employees and gained more than 12,000 followers on LinkedIn. According to Malachi, these are all small stepping stones in his larger goal to change the education system and the way we live..

 


Denita Washington
Campus: Fort Wayne

Denita has changed the lives of many people, making a global impact by empowering girls, serving on nonprofit boards, and assisting in the development of dynamic leaders. After graduating from Ivy Tech Fort Wayne, Denita led with love as she developed Girlz Rock, a dynamic nonprofit organization that has influenced more than 2,000 girls since 2010. She was elected to the position of Adams Township Trustee in Fort Wayne, where she grew up as a child. Moreover, she became the first female and first African American to serve in this post. Denita is also the Director of Programs at the Fort Wayne Housing Authority. On a personal level, and more than anything else, Denita has been dedicated to guiding her two adult sons and is very engaged in the development of her granddaughters.

 


Ashley Gurvitz 
Campus: Indianapolis

A graduate of Ivy Tech Indianapolis, Ashley is dedicated to improving quality of life through community and economic development as the Chief Executive Officer for the United Northeast Community Development Corporation. By building cross-sector partnerships, championing residents, encouraging investment, and finding resources for an area that’s often forgotten, Ashley has revitalized opportunities for people on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Prior to working in community development, she served as a Senior Legislative Aide and Internship Director for the Indiana House of Representatives, focused on constituent services. She has also served on various boards focused on advocating for community unification, social justice, and overall equitable outcomes for Hoosiers.

 


Mallory Boyd Claypool 
Campus: Kokomo

As the director of the Lewis Cass Polytechnic Academy in Galveston, Indiana, Mallory is a “poster child” for the value of an Ivy Tech education in reimagining one’s life. After almost 20 years in the food service industry, he made what he describes as the radical decision to return to college to become a math teacher. He chose Ivy Tech Kokomo and graduated in 2012 with his associate degree in Education. Since then, he has earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Mathematics Education, and has completed a master’s degree and nearly all his coursework for a Ph.D. in Technology, both at Purdue University. Mallory credits Ivy Tech with providing the basis for his new career and now partners with Ivy Tech in programs that allow his students to complete a variety of dual-credit classes that can move right into jobs or further education.

 


Tenecia Waddell-Pyle
Campus: Lafayette

Over the course of 20+ years, Tenecia has become an award-winning community leader and innovator. Tenecia graduated from Ivy Tech Lafayette and IUPUI with honors and earned a degree from IU’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. During her 15-year career in law enforcement, she directed and developed programs in leadership, consultation, and volunteerism. She became the first Black female police officer in her county, and served as a Crisis Intervention Team officer, trainer and self-defense instructor. She is currently the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for MyPath, an individual and family services corporation serving 2,000 people. She also consulted on the implementation of the State of Indiana’s 988 hotline, America’s mental health safety net. Tenecia has received multiple awards for her service to the community, including the Journal and Courier Media Group’s Best of the Best Award – Person of the Year. She has three adult sons and is married to Ryan Pyle.

 


Robert D. Walker 
Campus: Lake County (Gary, E. Chicago)

Robert is the Director of the Lake County Homeland Security/EMA. He assumed this position after retiring from the Gary Fire Department after 36 years of service. As part of his hometown’s fire department, he wore many hats: Firefighter/EMT, Engineer, Fire Instructor, Drillmaster, Rescue Specialist, Chief of Training, and Fire Chief. Most important to him are his faith and relationship with God, whom he credits for everything in his life, and his family. He serves as an Adjutant/Deacon at the Reed’s Temple Church of God in Christ. He and his wife, Rosemarie Walker, have four daughters, two sons-in-law and two grandsons. Robert has an associate degree from Ivy Tech Lake County in Public Safety and a bachelor’s degree from Calumet College of Saint Joseph in Organizational Management. Additionally, he has accumulated 97+ licenses and certifications from agencies such as the State of Indiana Homeland Security, FEMA, and U.S. Steel.

 


Brent E. Casebolt
Campus: Lawrenceburg

Brent is a 2021 honors graduate of Ivy Tech Lawrenceburg with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice. Brent is an Enforcement Agent with the Indiana Gaming Commission and is the former Town Marshal in Moores Hill, Indiana, a position he held for 20+ years. Brent has served in different capacities of the law enforcement criminal justice field for almost 32 years. Other positions he currently holds include Ripley County Court Services part-time Field Officer, Dearborn County Deputy Coroner, Ivy Tech part-time Security Officer, and part-time assistant with Moore Funeral Services. Brent is a graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Biblical Studies and serves as a Deacon for the First Baptist Church of Aurora.

 


Julie Wade 
Campus: Madison

Julie has worked at Ivy Tech Madison for more than nine years. She currently serves as the Director of Financial Aid and has been the Veteran’s Corresponding Officer for the Veteran Students at the Madison campus for the last three years. Julie earned her associate degree in Business from Ivy Tech and recently earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Indiana University East. Julie loves her job at Ivy Tech. She feels fortunate to be one of the first people to help a new student and see their excitement as they are starting their journey. She understands their challenges and helps them overcome any hurdles. 

 


Zach Shearer
Campus: Marion

Zach graduated from Ivy Tech Marion in 2015 with an associate degree in Business Administration. He is no stranger to the business and entrepreneurial world. When he was just 10 years old, he started caring for dogs in an oversized shed on the rural property of his parents’ home. His passion and love for animals, as well as his strong work ethic and support from family, friends, and community, led him to fulfill his dream. Zach and his wife, Jenna, have expanded Zach’s Pet Services twice, with the second expansion being the construction of an 8,500-square-foot facility to better accommodate their growing clientele. Zach and his staff pride themselves in serving Fort Wayne, Huntington, and their surrounding counties as a pet service offering the utmost love and care to four-legged friends. Zach and Jenna have been married since 2016 and have two children, ages 4 and 1.

 


Amy M. Baize-Ward, Ed.D.
Campus: Muncie

Amy is a graduate of Ivy Tech Muncie, where she studied Computer Programming and served as Secretary for Phi Theta Kappa. After Ivy Tech, she attended Indiana Wesleyan earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. She went on to Ball State earning both her masters (2008), in Executive Development focusing on Adult Education and Public Service, and her doctorate (2018) in Adult, Higher, and Community Education focusing on Community College Leadership. A lifelong resident of Muncie, Amy and her husband Ted have three children and one grandson. She volunteers at Union Chapel church, serves on several nonprofit organization boards, and was nominated to join the Muncie School Board. Amy is passionate about the work she does as Vice Chancellor of Student Success at Ivy Tech. She believes everyone should have the opportunity to pursue their educational dreams, so she established an endowed scholarship for single mothers seeking their education, as she was a single mother while on her academic journey.
.

 

 
Lauralee Hites
Campus: Richmond

Lauralee Hites is a 2003 graduate of Ivy Tech Richmond, where she earned a degree in business administration. She is the founder of Stratavize Consulting, a strategy planning and management consulting firm started in 2016. After spending nearly 20 years in Fortune 100 corporations leading strategy design and implementation, communications, and professional development programs, she left corporate America to pursue new kind of consulting where the clients are the center of the work, not the consulting firm.

 


Josh “JT” Turner
Campus: Sellersburg

An Ivy Tech Sellersburg graduate, JT is an Analyst/IT Administrator at Samtec, a New Albany City Council member, a military veteran, and, most importantly, a husband and father. Being a part of the Samtec family has instilled in him a sense of giving back to his community. JT’s time in the military gave him a passion to serve people. The values that he has picked up along the path he has followed in his life have motivated him to be a people-first minded elected representative for the City of New Albany. Words he lives by: We all have a duty to leave this world better than the way we found it.

 


Sarah Darrell
Campus: South Bend/Elkhart

Sarah graduated from Ivy Tech South Bend with an associate degree in Nursing in 2005. Her career started in labor and delivery at Northwestern Memorial in Chicago. She then worked as a surgical nurse specializing in cardiovascular surgery while earning her bachelor’s in Nursing and master’s in Nursing at Indiana University. In 2012, Sarah began her career at Ivy Tech as an adjunct in the School of Health Sciences. In 2017, she became the Simulation Coordinator for the School of Nursing at Ivy Tech Valparaiso. Sarah has completed a graduate certification in Healthcare Simulation, is a 2019 alumni of the National League for Nursing Simulation Leader program, and has presented at national simulation conferences. Sarah is involved with the college on several committees, is a member of Circle of Ivy, and is the President of the Valparaiso and Michigan City Faculty Council. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Portage Township YMCA.

 


Beth Pearison 
Campus: Terre Haute

Beth serves as Supervisor of Imaging Services at Union Health, the Terre Haute area’s largest health care system and Vigo County’s largest employer. Beth is a graduate of Ivy Tech Terre Haute, completing associate degrees in both General Studies and Imaging Services (radiology) in 2018. After graduation, Beth transferred her credits to the University of Southern Indiana, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Radiology Management. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in Health Care Administration through Purdue University Global. Beth excelled at Ivy Tech while juggling the responsibilities of a family. A first-generation college student, Beth credits her experience at Ivy Tech with not only preparing her for continued education and her career, but also with providing her the opportunity to grow her skills and resources to build a future for herself and her children.

 


Matthew Urbaniak
Campus: Valparaiso

Matthew is a graduate of Ivy Tech Valparaiso/Michigan City and an accomplished leader with 20+ years of experience in the natural gas emergency response, maintenance and field operations, construction, and HVAC industries. He currently oversees General Supervisors involved in frontline operation and maintenance. Matthew has a proven track record of supervising field employees in line with Peoples Gas and WEC Energy Group policies, procedures, and company values. He is skilled at motivating, coaching, and developing employees to accomplish district objectives, and is able to impart a sense of urgency and customer focus into everyday work practices. He is an active committee member of the Midwest Energy Association, and enjoys participating in and raising money for the annual Special Olympics-Chicago Polar Plunge. Matthew is a father of four and has been married to his high school sweetheart since 2001.

 

Give Now