VINCENNES, Ind. - Troy J. Haskett has never met a stranger - at
least not in the time he’s been at Vincennes University.
Most people call him “TJ” and, since arriving at VU in 2015,
Haskett has been a familiar face and presence around campus.
The Indianapolis native is well known for his involvement in
everything. He is a resident assistant. He ran for homecoming king.
He’s a big supporter of the Trailblazer athletic teams. He can be
found at the majority of social extracurricular activities on campus.
In a recent talent show, Haskett participated by performing magic
tricks. He is also involved with the VU Manufacturing Club and VU Bass
“He’s a pretty social student,” says Jonathan Vennard,
instructor in the VU Advanced CNC and Programming program. “He knows everybody.”
A mainstay on campus for four years, Haskett is preparing to
He is finishing a Bachelor of Science degree in Technology with
an Advanced Manufacturing concentration. He will don a cap and gown in
the commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. EDT on May 4 at the P.E. Complex
on the VU campus.
In 2018 Haskett earned two associate degrees from VU, in
Precision Manufacturing Technology and Advanced CNC Machining and
Programming Technology. He completed a Metalworking Technology
Certificate in 2017.
Machine shops and laboratories can be noisy settings with
jarring sounds. It’s not an easy environment for someone like Haskett,
who was born hard of hearing.
“TJ is an overcomer,” says Rebecca Roach, who is an educational
coach for Experience VU Student Support Services. “He has overcome
much in his life.”
Throughout his educational career, Haskett has been aided in
the classroom by sign language interpreters. At VU he utilized an
interpreter while in class until he decided the best way to prepare
for his future career was to stop using an interpreter. In the working
world Haskett doesn’t expect to have an interpreter.
“It’s all going to be on me,” he says.
This is why Haskett, who wears hearing aids and possesses the
ability to lip read, opted to communicate one-on-one with his instructors.
“I decided it was time for me to step up and do all the work,”
Haskett says. “It was time for me to show that I can understand everything.”
The process of getting away from using an interpreter was an evolution.
“We started out by always having interpreters in the
classroom,” Vennard says. “At one point we switched over to the
computer; then we figured out it was just as easy to (communicate)
one-on-one and he started being self-sufficient. He was able to do the
coursework on his own. He overcame and achieved.”
Haskett is truly an inspiration to all.
He is well deserving of the Experience VU Student Support
Services Student of the Year Award he received in 2018.
Experience VU is a program designed to support student with disabilities.
“We are very proud of TJ for his resilience and tenacity to
overcome issues that would have deemed his degree impossible for some,
but not for him,” Roach says. “That’s a difficult environment for him
to be in with his disability. There’s a lot of background noise and
it’s hard for him, but he’s still doing it.
“We look for the student that has utilized our services - and
he goes to everything we do - and the student who is excelling and overcoming.”
Which describes Haskett perfectly.
“TJ has always been in charge of his own destiny, even with his
parents,” Roach says. “He always took his parents’ advice into
consideration, but yet TJ was always willing to take that chance to go
that extra mile and put himself out there because he knew it would
help him in the long run.”
“He is not ever looking for the easy way out. He’s not ever
asked anybody for special favors. He has never used any of his
accommodations as a crutch. They were there as an assist when he
needed them; and when he didn’t need them or when he thought he needed
to try without, he did it always.”
Haskett takes his constant upbeat personality and positive
attitude wherever he goes. He’s always smiling and he talks to
everyone he meets.
He became interested in manufacturing and machining while
“I really enjoy working with my hands,” Haskett says.
“I had a teacher who said I couldn’t do it, but I proved him
wrong when I came here. People from different companies told me I was
better off coming to VU because VU has a good reputation for machining
at a higher level and at a lower cost.”
With great pride he shows off the various items he has made
over his coursework, including a clock displaying the VU logo.
“He’s a great student,” Vennard says. “He has the cheerful
attitude that you’d like to have in your classroom every day. He’s
always laughing, smiling, and joking around.”
Yet, he is all business when necessary.
“He works like he’s fighting snakes,” Vennard says. “He never
slows down. He’s hammer down all the time. He’s a hard worker who
always puts in the time and effort. He shows up early and stays late.
He sticks around and helps me clean up. He is always willing to put in
the extra hours to help our areas look good for open houses and tours.
“He’s a great representative of the program and the college
itself. Having that positive attitude and good work ethic, that’s what
employers are looking for.”
As the semester ends Haskett is pondering his next step. He has
two online courses to complete this summer in order to finish his
bachelor’s degree. He has several job options and is weighing what is
best for him.
“He has a bright future,” Vennard says. “He will be good somewhere.”
VINCENNES UNIVERSITY - Indiana’s First College
VU is state-supported with campuses in Vincennes and Jasper,
the Aviation Technology Center and American Sign Language program in
Indianapolis, Early College Career and Technical Education Centers,
and additional sites such as the Gene Haas Training and Education
Center in Lebanon, the Logistics Training and Education Center in
Plainfield, and the Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing
and Logistics in Fort Branch. A leader in developing Early Colleges
statewide, VU also offers instruction at military sites throughout the nation.
In addition to offering a wide range of associate degree and
certificate programs, VU also offers bachelor’s degree programs in
technology, homeland security, nursing, secondary education programs
in mathematics and science, and special education/elementary education.
VU enrolls students from throughout Indiana, 35 other states,
and 17 countries. Tuition and fees are the lowest among Indiana
campuses with residence halls. VU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Founded in 1801, VU is Indiana’s first college and is the only
college in the nation founded by an individual who would later become
President of the United States. William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S.
President, founded VU while serving as governor of the Indiana
Territory. More information is available at www.vinu.edu.