BY TRACY ZOLLINGER TURNER
When Jessica Strunk came to Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington in 2004, the career path she imagined for herself was confined. “I had my life all figured out,” she says. “I wanted to get an associate degree in office administration, and then I planned to be a secretary forever.”
The true breadth of her career options began to unfold as she moved through her first work-study job in Ivy Tech’s student affairs office. “I gained a different outlook on what I could do,” she says. “I learned more about what higher education really is.” Shortly after obtaining her associate degree, she landed a full-time position in student support and development at Ivy Tech, where she has continued to advance. At the same time, she was finishing a bachelor’s degree with Indiana State University and a master’s with Capella University.
Now 33, Strunk was recently named vice chancellor of enrollment services, one of three vice chancellor positions in Ivy Tech’s redesigned statewide structure. Other vice chancellors will be focused on academic affairs and student success, and all three are tasked with learning and serving the specific needs of communities and students in eight south-central Indiana counties. Strunk will keep a close watch on the needs of new students, whether they are in existing jobs that require updated technology training or young people who may not know all of their educational options.
“A lot of people still have the view that everything we offer is going to be career-focused,” says Strunk, noting that Ivy Tech can also be an affordable starting point for undergraduate and advanced degrees, the way it was for her.
Strunk and her husband, Chanden, who also works for Ivy Tech as a graduation and career coach at a Bedford high school, live in Lawrence County with their 8-year-old daughter, Bailix.
Ivy Tech–Bloomington Chancellor Jennie Vaughan, who oversaw Strunk in her initial work-study program, notes that having been an Ivy Tech student gives Strunk exceptional insight into her job.
“Jessica is a product of Ivy Tech and never forgets that as she meets with students and families to guide and assist them through our systems and processes,” Vaughan says. “She has been in their shoes and knows that everything from enrolling, applying for financial aid, to figuring out how to do a grade appeal are all very daunting tasks for many people. She is simply a rock star.”