College selects two graduates for highest academic, service honor
Francisco Ramirez Martinez and Karrah Hughes come from remarkably different backgrounds.
Martinez grew up in Los Lorenzos, Mexico, a town with fewer than 1,500 residents. There were no gas stations, school buses, or even paved roads there, he recalls.
More than 1,800 miles away, Hughes was born in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region, Lexington, where the “Horse Capital of the World” influenced her lifelong affinity for horses and barrel racing in rodeo competitions.
Their paths intersected years later at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast, where the two new graduates were both honored with the Melvin L. Curtis Award for Academic Excellence during the 2015 Commencement ceremony on May 8.
The award traditionally celebrates the accomplishments of one exemplary student in each graduating class who is selected on the basis of academic achievement, community service, and personal qualities. This year is only the second time in the award’s 41-year history where two individuals were recognized; the first actually occurred last year.
“Francisco and Karrah represent the depth and breadth of the community college experience available at Ivy Tech,” says Candy Schladenhauffen, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Francisco exemplifies the opportunities for students transferring to the university setting after building a solid liberal arts foundation, and Karrah’s educational journey illustrates our long heritage of career and technical education resulting in graduates prepared to enter the local workforce and contribute their talent and expertise.”
Service to others was another commonality between Martinez and Hughes during their Ivy Tech Northeast educations.
Martinez was an American Honors student and Phi Theta Kappa honor-society member who volunteered with the American Cancer Society and at the Community Harvest Food Bank. He is most proud of his work as a tutor with the College’s Supplemental Instruction program.
“I managed to assist many students who were struggling with college math and chemistry,” Martinez says. “In my time with the program, I managed to see it grow tremendously, and I am excited to see how it will continue to grow long after I leave Ivy Tech.”
For Hughes, a Lambda Beta Society member for respiratory care professionals, strong bonds were developed with instructors and peers throughout her studies.
“I have met lifelong friends, learned from the best people this world has to offer, and have learned perhaps who I am supposed to be, and of course, learning how to troubleshoot ventilators and understand breath sounds along the way,” Hughes says. “These will be the years I look back on and will be so thankful for.”
Francisco Ramirez Martinez
High School: Northrop High School (2010 graduate)
Degree: A.S. in Liberal Arts
Next Step: Attending the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago to study chemistry
Career Goal: Becoming a chemical engineer, educator, or both
Advice: “Do your best and take pride in your work and education. Sometimes school can be overwhelming; it is important to just take things one day at a time. I simply did the best I could and hoped that the grades would follow.”
High School: Parkway Local School, Rockford, Ohio (2012 graduate)
Degree: A.S. in Respiratory Care
Next Step: Finding work as a respiratory therapist
Career Goal: Returning to college to study management and expand employment opportunities
Advice: “Whether you are talented in the books or not, motivation is the key. If you want something so bad you cannot think of anything other than doing it, then you will do it. It is about drive, heart, and believing that you can, and so you will.”