Inside Ivy Tech: Getting his peers to the polls

Student delegate represents Indiana in nationwide voting initiative

Accounting major Dontae Hampton, at right, is Ivy Tech Northeast's delegate for College Debate 2016, a national program aimed at getting young adults registered to vote. Hampton spoke with cyber security major Diamano Yonli during a Hispanic Heritage Month event in September.

Accounting major Dontae Hampton, at right, is Ivy Tech Northeast’s delegate for College Debate 2016, a national program aimed at getting young adults registered to vote. Hampton spoke with cyber security major Diamano Yonli during a Hispanic Heritage Month event in September.

The first time Dontae Hampton voted in a presidential election, it was 2012. He was a high school student a few months past his 18th birthday.

“At the time, my government teacher was stressing it: ‘Those of you who are 18 need to go vote,’” he says, adding that he thought, “Man, I can vote, so I want to vote.”

Now, Hampton is serving as that kind of mentor to students throughout Ivy Tech Community College Northeast: He is the College’s delegate in College Debate 2016, a non-partisan group that brings together college students nationwide and teaches them “to identify issues and engage peers in the presidential election.”

“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Hampton, an accounting student, attended College Debate 2016 programming in San Francisco twice over the summer to learn more about the political process and identify key issues from Indiana that he thought need to be addressed.

“It’s mostly to help students from all 50 states come together and have them reach out to their peers,” he says. It’s about getting “people to vote and start getting people interacting with the debates and the campaigns.”

The issues most important to Hampton are immigration, diversity, and education, he says, and all three stem in part from personal experience: Hampton has a friend from Cozumel, Mexico, who is living in the country without legal permission. Because of her status, she is unable to qualify for financial aid, which makes it difficult to afford an education.

JoAnne Alvarez, the College’s student success and retention coordinator, nominated Hampton for the training opportunity because she has known him for years—he is friends with her children.

“Anytime I ask him to do something, he is just on it,” Alvarez says.

She also knows him through ¡GOAL y Amigos!, or Graduating Outstanding Achieving Latinos and Friends, a student group for Latino students and those interested in learning about the Latino culture. Alvarez overseas the group, and Hampton is a member. Though he is not Latino, he says, he has always been interested in Latino culture, and he plans to minor in Spanish after he graduates from Ivy Tech Northeast and transfers to IPFW to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“The whole Hispanic culture, it is something neat, something I appreciate,” Hampton says.

Plus, Hampton recognizes that organizations like GOAL help him educationally.

“That’s how I mostly learn: socially,” he says. “People adapting, sharing new thoughts, making networking connections.”

He even uses the group to further his objectives for College Debate 2016: He set up a table at GOAL events to ensure that students knew how to register to vote and, after the registration deadline, where to vote.

“Voting has been important to me because I feel like, you can’t really complain about who’s in office if you don’t make any contribution to the election,” he says. “You definitely need to be active about who is running where you live, your home.”

Did you know?
  • Indiana gets 11 electoral votes.
  • That is 2 percent of the total 538 electoral votes.
  • And it’s 4 percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the general election.
  • Between 1900 and 2012, Indiana cast votes for the winning presidential candidate nearly 69 percent of
    the time.
  • In the same time frame, Indiana voted Democratic 17 percent of the time and Republican 83 percent of the time.

Inside Ivy Tech: A spark of imagination

Alumnus treats welding, educational pursuits like full-time job

Ivy Tech Northeast alumnus Chuck Smith has crafted more than 30 substantial works of metal art through artistic welding.

Ivy Tech Northeast alumnus Chuck Smith has crafted more than 30 substantial works of metal art through artistic welding.

Tucked in the middle of a seven-bay detached garage in Orland, Ind., is a space where Chuck Smith arguably does his most impressive work: an eagle sculpture with a five-foot wingspan, an end table with an oversized gear as its surface, a fireplace screen featuring a stenciled buck and doe on its doors.

In all, Smith has crafted more than 30 substantial works of metal art in his fully equipped welding workshop. His numerous smaller-scale projects, such as bracelets, light-switch panels, and napkin holders, can easily fit in the palm of your hand.

Artistic welding has become a hobby for the Ivy Tech Community College Northeast alumnus. He discovered the art form in 2012 soon after he enrolled at the College to study industrial technology. Before that, Smith’s welding experience had been only structural in nature, such as upkeep on his 1946 military-produced Willys Jeep.

At 70, what Smith accomplishes in retirement comes close to equaling what others do at a full-time job.

“The eagle alone took three weeks of solid work, and the pedestal took even longer,” says Smith, who created the sculpture to help his grandson earn an Eagle Scout badge. The eagle is on permanent display in a Mooresville, N.C., city park, where it serves as a memorial to local first responders.

Click on the images above to zoom.

Ivy Tech Northeast industrial technology instructor Brian Barnes says Smith is known for paying attention to details
with his welding.

“Without doing that, the art doesn’t look very artistic,” Barnes says. “He also isn’t afraid to experiment, and because of that, he has learned some new ways to color metal and do other cool things.”

Smith stays challenged by his welding projects as well as his intention to remain a perpetual college student. Beyond a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts he completed in 1997, he graduated with an associate degree in industrial technology this May. And this fall, Smith began work on a technical certificate in machine tool technology to enhance his understanding of machining metals.

“I want aspects of different degrees, and I can do that here at Ivy Tech,” Smith says. “Any piece of knowledge is worth having, and my goal is to learn something everyday—no matter how trivial.”

Smith is passing his own knowledge along this fall as he assumes the role of instructor in a metal arc welding course at the College. He appears to be a natural for the role, having taught multiple topics to hundreds of recruits during his 37-year military career and nearly 25 years of service as an Indiana state trooper.

Smith says one of his personal interests is to encourage more women to learn welding, either as a profession or an avocation.

“When we think about women and welding, we think about Rosie the Riveter from World War II,” Smith says. “Today, there are female metal artists—more than people would suspect—who are mostly brazing and soldering jewelry. I want to support them.”

Smith’s goal would make Rosie proud.

Make your own sparks fly

Ivy Tech Northeast is sponsoring a hands-on seminar on artistic welding beginning Nov. 12. Let your creative sparks fly as you turn scrap metal into artwork for your home through this two-session course. Enroll online.
$125 per participant.
All equipment and materials included.


Time to go to class–at the zoo

If you want the highest probability of seeing the animals at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, visit in the morning. Maybe at opening. Maybe you’re gathering out front before the gates even open, so when the ticket booths are finally manned, you’re the first through the gate.

Amanda Hubbard, at right, teaches Exotic Animals, a class in the Agriculture program.

Amanda Hubbard, at right, teaches Exotic Animals, a class in the Agriculture program.

That’s how Amanda Hubbard takes her Exotic Animals class to the zoo. Hubbard graduated from the College’s Agriculture program in December 2015, and she noticed that students interested in working with animals had an excellent resource at their disposal in the zoo. She worked with her friend, Ashley Bean, a giraffe keeper at the zoo, to get the class going. The class is currently in its first semester.

While Exotic Animals traditionally meets on campus, it does take field trips to local spots like Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion and the zoo. On this recent zoo visit, Hubbard asked her class to suggest which animals they most wanted to learn about. In three hours, the group visited exhibits including the orangutans, the giraffes, and the Komodo dragon.

“It’s more hands-on learning,” Hubbard says. “They’ll be able to look at the animals we’re talking about instead of just looking at pictures. We can see them eat and how they interact with those of the same species.”

Take the giraffes. During the visit, a male giraffe dipped his head under a female.

“He’s testing her urine,” Bean tells the class. He uses two tiny ducts on the roof of his mouth, his flehmen’s response, to test if the female is fertile. “If she is cycling, he’ll be able to breed with her.”

Click on images to zoom and for caption info.

Inside Ivy Tech: Business competition selects three minority men as finalists

Eyewear company takes home $35K prize

The frames are classic wayfarer, the most popular selling sunglasses in history, and made of cherry wood from a New York-state tree farm. The wood is coated to withstand the elements, not unlike a deck, and it should age, like a fine leather bag, so that, 10, 15, 20 years down the line, the glasses are unlike any other pair out there.

Jamal Robinson, an Ivy Tech Northeast alum, won the 2016 New Venture Competition with his business, DESIAR Eyewear. With his winnings, he plans to launch the Hoosier line of glasses, made with cherry wood.

Jamal Robinson, an Ivy Tech Northeast alum, won the 2016 New Venture Competition with his business, DESIAR Eyewear. With his winnings, he plans to launch the Hoosier line of glasses, made with cherry wood.

Jamal Robinson is the brains behind these wooden glasses, which are manufactured entirely in Indiana. He is able to launch the line—the Hoosier line—with the funds he won last month at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast’s New Venture Competition. In its sixth year, the competition awards start-up capital to a new or beginning business. Robinson won $35,000 toward the line, part of his company, DESIAR Eyewear.

“When it comes to DESIAR, I know DESIAR,” said Robinson, an Ivy Tech Northeast alumnus who graduated from IPFW with an associate degree in business. “With all that, I felt comfortably prepared. I was confident I did the best I could do.”

Robinson was one of three finalists for this year’s competition, along with Andrew Smittie of Green E-Waste Miracles, a company that collects and recycles waste the garbage company won’t pick up; and Guadalupe Callejas of Metro Striping & More, an interior and exterior painting company.

All three finalists are minority men, notable in part because of how difficult it can be for minority business owners to get funding, says Clifford Clarke, an advisor for the College’s African American Male Initiative and a member of Fort Wayne’s Black Chamber of Commerce.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the national percentage of minority-owned firms is on the rise, from 22 percent to 29 percent between 2007 and 2012. While the numbers may be growing, however, it is still difficult for minority entrepreneurs to secure funds and resources.

“I remember sitting in a conference, and a minority entrepreneur was explaining how hard it was for him to get money,” Clarke says. “I think that the population as a whole is truly underserved.

“It continually promotes the perception that the African American or minority population is always looking for the proverbial handout. That’s not the case. We’re trying to reach the same level of parity as our non-minority counterparts.”

It can also be difficult for minority business owners to receive exposure and mentorship, he says, two more keys in determining the success of a small business.

This was the fifth year John Dortch, former Black Chamber of Commerce CEO and a local entrepreneur, has judged, he says. One of the things that keeps him coming back is the continuing variety of finalists.

“It’s been great to see the diversity,” says Dortch, president and CEO of The Preston Joan Group. “(This year), they all are very, very tough to judge. They all have a quality product. The presentations are very good. I think they’re going to do very, very well with what they’re doing.”

College Goal Sunday to provide free financial aid help

Financial aid professionals will volunteer at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast and 39 other sites in Indiana to help college-bound students with financial aid during College Goal Sunday.

Now in its 28th year, College Goal Sunday has helped more than 90,000 Indiana students and families complete the FAFSA properly and on time. College Goal Sunday is a charitable program of the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association.

2 p.m. Nov. 13

Ivy Tech Community College Northeast
Coliseum Campus
3800 N. Anthony Blvd.
Fort Wayne, IN 46805

Ivy Tech Northeast to offer IvyLiving artistic welding class

Ivy Tech Community College Northeast invites the community to participate in IvyLiving classes, non-credit enrichment classes geared toward the community. The next IvyLiving course will be artistic welding.

Nov. 12 and Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration deadline is Nov. 6.

Turn scrap metal into pieces of art during a two-session artistic welding class. Participants will learn basic welding, torching techniques, and safety measures in Ivy Tech Northeast’s state-of-the-art welding lab. All materials and equipment included. $125 per participant. To learn more and sign up for classes, visit

“Artistic welding is perfect for beginners who are hoping to express their creative side through metal sculpting,” says Aja Michael-Keller, IvyLiving’s coordinator. “IvyLiving classes are a great way to learn a craft from an expert in the field.”

Ivy Tech Community College Northeast
North Campus, The Steel Dynamics, Inc. Keith E. Busse Technology Center
3701 Dean Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46835


Ivy Tech Northeast Latino student group to host Salsa/Merengue Night on Oct. 12

Ivy Tech Northeast students and community members are invited to learn the dance the salsa/merengue with ¡G.O.A.L. y Amigos!, which stands for Graduating Outstanding Achieving Latinos & Friends.

The student group aims to promote identity and unity of Latino students at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast through education and politics, social, and cultural awareness; increase visibility of Latino students and their involvement in campus and community activities; and to include and embrace non-Latinos who are interested in positive engagement with the Latino culture.

Student Life Center gymnasium
North Campus, Ivy Tech Community College Northeast
3701 Dean Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46835
Get directions

5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 12
5:30 p.m.: Meet and greet
6 to 7 p.m.: Lessons
7 to 8:30 p.m.: Practice what’s been learned


Healthy self-advocacy: Get your way … politely!

Throughout the semester, Ivy Tech Northeast hosts workshops and seminars geared toward not just educational goals–there’s stuff about self-betterment, too.

I went to one earlier this week, “Healthy Self Advocacy,” put on by TRIO Student Support serves. Because who couldn’t learn how to advocate themselves better?


Here are some of the best tips I pulled from the seminar. I hope they help you, too.

  • What is self-advocacy? Speaking up for your needs.
  • Be assertive but not aggressive. Without being assertive, it’s easy to get run-over by more dominant personalities. The goal is not to be a pushover OR a bulldozer.
  • “I learned a lot from the seminar,” said Felicia Henry-Nailon, a TRIO coordinator who has sat through the seminar before. “I think it’s the non-cognitive skills our students can really struggle with. It’s hard to transfer from the factory to a professional job.”
  • Need to address an issue? Start from the bottom up. Beth Clemons, TRIO director, pointed out that if a student has an issue with, for example, a professor, she shouldn’t immediately go to the top of the food chain; the issue will be brought back down to the professor. Then, if it’s serious enough to move back up the food chain, there’s a lower likelihood the issue will be taken seriously.
  • Use “I” statements when addressing a problem with others–not “When you shout at me, you make me …” but “When I am shouted at, I get …”

Find out about upcoming workshops on the College Calendar. Scroll down to the middle of the page, under “events and news.”

Area high school students invited to Go Ivy Day college visit

At Go Ivy Day, area high school students will have the opportunity to tour campus; meet with faculty members from their programs of interest; connect with current Ivy Tech students and other prospective students; learn about admissions and enrollment requirements, as well as transfer opportunities; get the facts about financial aid; and more.

9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 28

Complimentary lunch will be provided for prospective students and their guests. Those interested in attending the four-hour event can visit Click on the “Fort Wayne” dropdown for local information and free registration details.

Ivy Tech Community College Northeast
North Campus, Student Life Center
3701 Dean Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46835

Three students to earn scholarships from social media project announced

Three Ivy Tech Community College Northeast students have been awarded a scholarship from the #IAmTheI project. The #IAmTheI project invited students to take a photo of themselves with the green “vy” statue in front of the Student Life Center on North Campus; share the photo on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram; and write “#IAmTheI because …”, sharing why they are the “I” in “Ivy Tech.” The photos with the most likes, shares, and comments earned the student one of three scholarships.

The students to receive the scholarships are

  • Karina Vazquez, a general studies student from Fort Wayne who earned first place, a $1,000 scholarship; #IAmTheI because I want to inspire future generations to pursue their dreams regardless of how big they are.


  • Nick Jones, a visual communications student from Butler who earned second place, a $500 scholarship; #IAmTheI because I’m hoping to have my Visual Communications degree next year in order to help pursue my passion for film production.


  • Danielle Lambert, a dual credit student from Bluffton who earned third place, a $250 scholarship; #IAmTheI because I can’t wait to take college classes still being considered a high school senior. I am excited to have such a great school so close to home. Ivy Tech will help me achieve my career goals and further my education!


The project received more than two dozen entries, earning Ivy Tech Northeast nearly 2,000 interactions through students’ photos.

Find the full rules at