Student Spotlight: Arminda “Mindy” Vaught
Writer / ????
When Arminda “Mindy” Vaught was released from prison after her 14-month sentence, she was not sure what she was going to do. She returned home and knew she had to find a job. Serving 14 months on a felony charge meant her options were limited. After speaking with the Delaware County Probation Office, she was referred to Ivy Tech Community College’s WorkMatters program.
“I thought I’d be getting a job at a factory – that I didn’t have any other options,” Vaught says. “I came out with hope and a future.”
“Mindy came into my office looking for a hand up,” says Stacy Bell, WorkMatters liaison. “She already had some college credits from courses she took while in prison, so I suggested returning to school in something she enjoyed. The goal is to find a better investment of time for the student. For Mindy, that was going back to school for business administration.”
Ivy Tech’s WorkMatters program is designed to create innovative initiatives to help support, educate and grow Muncie’s local workforce, to support local employers. As a part of WorkMatters, the justice-involved initiative was born from several employers desiring a solution to a workforce shortage. Students working with the WorkMatters program gain education and employment, to help reduce the recidivism rates in Delaware and Henry counties. It has been expanded to support citizens throughout the community, providing the help needed to make a meaningful change in their futures. The program involves education and placement with local employers.
“I have not been proud of myself in a long time,” Vaught says. “My two kids see me doing my homework and they know how important education is. My fiancé, Keith, his parents, my parents, my sister and best friend, Tia, my brother, and all my extended family have been very supportive of me. I’m proud of myself now, and knowing that my family is proud of me has given me the courage to keep going.”
WorkMatters supports students mentally, emotionally and sometimes financially. While Ivy Tech provides digital textbooks as part of the cost of tuition, Vaught had a difficult time focusing on them. She mentioned the issue to Bell, who found a way to ensure that she had physical textbooks for her classes.
“We want to make sure our students are successful,” Bell says. “Sometimes that means helping them with class materials, tuition costs and other necessities. Ivy Tech’s departments work together to support our students.”
Ivy Tech’s stackable credentials provided Vaught with the short-term goals she needed to focus and be successful in her academic journey. Vaught will earn her certificate in October and technical certificate in December. She will be on track to the last 29 credit hours needed for her associate’s degree in applied science in business administration.
“Getting out of prison, you feel like everyone is looking at you,” Vaught says. “It’s like they see your criminal history and judge you. I had to leave stores because of the anxiety it caused. Ivy Tech doesn’t feel like that.”
Vaught has joined the Alpha Upsilon Lambda chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, a national honor society for two-year colleges, and Kappa Beta Delta, an honor society for business majors. She plans to go into accounting for small businesses and tax preparation after earning her degree. She earned a 4.0 GPA in the fall of 2022 and spring of 2023, and was on the Dean’s List in the spring and summer semesters.
“Don’t limit yourself,” Vaught says. “You’re worth it. These days, you need an education.”