Growing up in Fort Wayne, Mateo Gonzalez was given a clear message from his mother and grandparents. “It was drilled into us that we would get a college degree,” he said.
So, after graduating from Northside High School, Gonzalez started college. It didn’t go well.
“Without having a set career path, I stopped showing up to classes and I failed my entire second semester,” Gonzalez said. “I thought, ‘College isn’t for me.’ I felt like I was failing.”
Gonzalez took a semester off, then returned to college, this time to Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne. When his math grades began tanking again, an Ivy Tech advisor reached out to him and talked about ways to improve his grades.
His advisor also suggested he get involved in campus activities to cultivate leadership skills. Through G.O.A.L. y Amigos, a student organization, Gonzalez found new interests, learned how to network with students and faculty, and improved his public speaking abilities—all skills he can apply to life and a future career.
In fact, Gonzalez was so successful as a student at Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne that he was chosen to deliver the 2019 commencement address.
“It’s been such an amazing experience,” Gonzalez said. “I really love Ivy Tech and the smaller environment. It’s a nice transition from high school, too. You have your freedom, but you also have people you can go to for help when you need it.”
After earning his associate degree in criminal justice, Gonzalez will continue toward his bachelor’s degree at Trine University through the 3+1 pathway, which allows students to take their first three years (freshman, sophomore, and junior) at Ivy Tech and finish their senior year at Trine. He plans to become a law-enforcement officer and is interested in becoming an FBI agent.
His advice? “Don’t just cancel out a community college because it is only for two years. It is a great starting point especially if you don’t know what you want to do. You’re not wasting time and money on classes you don’t need, or a degree you aren’t sure you want. Your community college classes will serve you just as well, and there are many opportunities to get involved.”
FIND A MATCH
If you know what you want to do or the type of school you want, but don’t know which colleges in Indiana fit that description, visit Learn More Indiana’s choosing-a-college school finder tool. Enter in your descriptors—such as the kind of degree you are going for and how much time you have to devote to your education—and see a list of the colleges that might just be a perfect match. Visit LearnMoreIndiana.org/college.