Speakers announced for ‘Return to Learn’ event at Ivy Tech Kokomo

Ivy Tech graduates will share challenges, successes of returning to school

Debra Cook

Debra Cook

KOKOMO, Ind. — Two area women who began higher education journeys at Ivy Tech Community College as working adults will be sharing their stories of challenges and successes Oct. 14 at a “Return to Learn” seminar at Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Campus, 1815 E. Morgan St.

Kokomo Housing Authority Chief Executive Officer Debra Cook and Logansport Memorial Hospital obstetrics nurse and Ivy Tech nursing instructor Jill Weese will discuss how they built successful careers on the foundation of Ivy Tech associate degrees. The seminar, which is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m., is aimed at encouraging adults interested in continuing their education and offering the information and resources they need to get back on track.

Jill Weese

Jill Weese

“Deb Cook and Jill Weese are great examples of what can be accomplished by adults willing to take on the challenges of going to school while working and raising a family,” said Marcia Worland, executive director of Marketing & Admissions at Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Region. “As they share their stories, audience members will be able to share their concerns and ask questions about how they got it done – and what higher education can mean in terms of job satisfaction and earning power.”

For more information or to make reservations for the free seminar, call Sarah King, assistant director of admissions for Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Region, at 765-459-0561, ext. 7252, or contact her by email at sking16@ivytech.edu.

Cook, a 2002 Computer Information Systems graduate of Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Region, went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in public management from Indiana University. Like many of Ivy Tech’s returning adult students, she achieved her educational goals while working full-time and raising a family.

Cook worked for the City of Kokomo’s Economic Development Department from 1993 to 2012, eventually serving as the city’s director of development. Today, as chief executive officer of the Kokomo Housing Authority, she leads a team of 40 employees who manage and maintain 551 public housing units and administer more than 700 Housing Choice Vouchers to help provide clean, safe and affordable housing.

Cook also has been active in many civic organizations. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Ivan H. Brinegar Management Award from the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns in recognition of her many contributions to the city and in 2014 she was honored with Ivy Tech’s statewide 2014 Alumni Achievement Award for Personal Achievement.

In talking about returning to school as an adult, Cook said, “Time is going to pass no matter what you do. You may as well use that time to further your education. This is what I told myself: ‘I can let time slip away, and just get older, or I can take control and use time to my advantage.’”

Weese calls herself a “second-career nurse,” having decided as a working adult to go back to school. She received her Licensed Practical Nurse technical certificate from Ivy Tech in 2008 and joined the staff at Logansport Memorial Hospital that year. While working at the hospital as a fulltime obstetrics nurse, she completed her Associate of Science in Nursing degree in 2009 from Ivy Tech, her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2012 and her Master of Science in Nursing from WGU (Western Governors University) earlier this year. She served as an adjunct faculty member at Ivy Tech before joining the fulltime faculty in January 2014.

In 2009, she was honored with the Ivy Tech Kokomo Region Chancellor’s Award, the highest honor bestowed in the region, in recognition of her courage and willingness to confront difficult situations and her determination to overcome them and succeed.

“My background includes positions in financial services and funeral services as well as work as an administrative assistant and in local ministry,” Weese said. “Then I decided nursing was my calling. I would offer anyone with a desire to go back to school this simple advice: It’s never too late to learn.”

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About Ivy Tech Kokomo Region

Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region serves Cass, Fulton, Howard, Miami, and Tipton counties and includes campuses or instructional sites in the communities of Kokomo, Logansport, Peru, and Rochester. Ivy Tech serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association. For more information, visit www.ivytech.edu.
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