VU students and programs receive multiple Awards for Excellence

Awards for Excellence winners holding their plaques.

February 13, 2018

VINCENNES, Ind. - Vincennes University students and programs are the recipients of Indiana College and Career Readiness Awards for Excellence. The awards were presented at a Feb. 8 ceremony at the Indiana Government Center in Indianapolis.

Recipients of the awards include six VU students and two programs, VU’s Student Success Center and Welding Technology Program.

The Indiana Career and Technical Education Awards for Excellence Program recognizes exemplary programs, students, and partnerships that benefit the state. The program is supported by a grant through the Indiana Department of Education and by contributions from the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development, VU, Ivy Tech Community College, and the Indiana Association of Career and Technical Education Districts.

VU students receiving awards include Paige Easley, Vincennes, Graphic Design; Ivy Heldt, Fort Branch, Graphic Design; Tamara Hochgesang, Birdseye, Computer Programing; Angelika Lambert, Marengo, Associate Degree Nursing; Kelsey Ruth, Anderson, American Sign Language, and Derick Shoemaker, Avon, Aviation Flight Technology. 


Initiated in Spring 2014, the Student Success Center, under the direction of Michelle Cummins, helps students to define, clarify and achieve academic, personal and professional goals. Open to all students, its focus is service to students with the greatest academic risk, and who need significant remediation. The Center works with the entire VU community, particularly as VU implements the corequisite model for remediation. It is recognized for collaboration and teamwork, offering multiple advising training opportunities to enable faculty members to be effective advisors.  


Among the top welding programs in the nation, the VU Welding Technology Program, under coordinator Mike Hastings, engages students in the welding lab almost 20 hours per week doing actual welds and getting practice in real life situations. Students earn American Welding Society certifications from faculty who hold certification through AWS. This makes the graduates highly sought after by industry. Lincoln Electric Welding Company is a partner to the VU program, providing many pieces of welding equipment on consignment to VU, including upgrading equipment and technology each fall. Lincoln Electric cites the VU program as “the most modern facility in the United States.” Lincoln Electric also sponsors a workshop for high school instructors each summer at VU. The VU program also benefits from an active Advisory Board 


Paige Easley, Vincennes, is a Graphic Design major who works two campus jobs, including an internship in the VU Marketing Services Office, while also active in Beta Xi Omega on campus. In competition with other students, Easley’s designs were selected by the Mid-American Air Center and the VU President’s Office. Thanks to her work ethic, she also balanced course work with personal hardship, as her mother experienced serious health issues. In addition to her Graphic Design major, Easley earned as associate degree in Broadcasting in 2016.  She is a 2014 graduate of Hauser High School in Hope, IN.


Ivy Heldt, Fort Branch, is a Graphic Design major, who attends classes while operating her own business, Faith and Family Photography, where she is the photographer and editor. She decided to pursue her degree to expand her business services. In addition to balancing classes and running a business, Heldt has served as a mentor for 4-H in Gibson and Vanderburgh counties and serves as a teacher and youth group volunteer at her church.


Tamara Hochgesang, Birdseye, is Computer Programming, Networking Concentration, major at the VU Jasper Campus, where she is a student tutor and vice president of Scholarship for Phi Theta Kappa International honor society, and president of its Beta Zeta Chapter. For past 16 years, she has as technology associate at Southeast Dubois School Corp. A 1983 graduate of Forest Park High School, she has served as a 4-H leader for more than ten years and supervised many athletics events for Southeast School Corporation.


Angelika Lambert, Marengo, is majoring in Associate Degree Nursing at VU Jasper, where she serves as president of the Student Nurses Organization, vice president of the Student Government Association/ Campus Activities Board, and is past treasurer of Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She overcame a devastating car accident her senior year in high school creating obstacles she overcame to succeed in college. In addition to supporting multiple local charities, Lambert also joined other nursing students in a medical mission trip to Appalachia.  A 2009 graduate of Bedford North Lawrence High School, Lambert earned an associate degree in General Education in 2016 from VU Jasper prior to entering the Nursing program.


Kelsey Ruth, Anderson, is an American Sign Language major and serves as resident assistant at VU’s ASL and Deaf Studies Program dormitory in Indianapolis.  She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the ASL Interpreting Program at IUPUI. She also works with Silent Blessings, a nonprofit ministry that works within the Deaf community. 


Derick Shoemaker, Avon, is an Aviation Technology Flight major who has achieved multiple certifications, including as Flight Instructor, allowing him to be employed while continuing his education. In addition to his VU degree, he is pursuing Purdue Polytechnic aviation bachelor’s degree program, offered through a partnership with VU’s Aviation Technology Center. In addition to working as a flight instructor, he is also as a dispatcher for VU and for FedEx Freight Indianapolis. Shoemaker is a 2011 graduate of Avon High School.


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