Ivy Tech grad’s long journey offers hope, inspiration

Now, more than ever, a higher education is important to landing well-paying jobs and advancing in careers. Many employers need employees with advanced skills and degrees to perform the job’s tasks.

But obtaining those skills and degrees isn’t limited to one model or time period in a person’s life. Brian Heaton, the 2017 Ivy Tech Community College Alumni of the Year, is an example that there are other ways to reach a professional goal than going straight from high school to a four-year college.

Heaton, a 1977 Columbus North High School graduate, enjoyed hands-on experiences such as the performing arts, Junior Achievement and 4-H. Heaton said he struggled with the traditional classroom-lecture model, which he encountered when he enrolled at Indiana University.

After one year of college, he left school and took a job with the Bartholomew County Jail. Heaton didn’t hit his stride academically until he’d been in the workforce a while — and was a little older.

He earned an associate degree in electronics at Ivy Tech Community College that helped him land a job repairing medical equipment. He later earned a four-year degree in Total Quality Management from Cleary College in Michigan, and a Master of Business Administration degree with a health care administrator endorsement from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Today, at 58, he is the senior director of field services for the East Division of Omnicell, a California-based technology company that manufactures and sells medical automation products.

Heaton’s journey shows that earning an advanced education can be achieved in a non-traditional way and still lead one on a career path to success and fulfillment.