Ava Zinn is now an IVY TECH Fort Wayne Student
- August
Posted By : Ava Zinn
Ava Zinn is now an IVY TECH Fort Wayne Student

August 24, 2020, marks a new chapter in the life of yours truly. As Professor Leone-Unger started the Reading and Writing class at 8:00 that hot Tuesday morning of August 25, 2020, I not only attended college for the first time in 6,906 days, 21 hours, and 45 minutes (19 years) after my dis-enrollment from Indiana Wesleyan University, but also the first time I attended college as a woman. It was a historic yet important day I will remember forever.

First day of IVY TECH Fort Wayne.

Comparing today and my first day of college 19 years earlier on September 4, 2001, attending IWU; it is safe to say there is quite a stark contrast between my first day at IWU Marion in 2001 and Ivy Tech Fort Wayne in 2020. At Indiana Wesleyan University, I was one of the 700 freshmen on the Marion campus of IWU as an 18-year-old man who commuted from my home on the north side of Marion to IWU’s Marion campus yet the commuter’s lounge wasn’t open. On my first day at IWU Marion, I wore an IWU T-shirt that has since been thrown away and pants unaware of what would happen next. Four weeks later, everything changed as I knew it. It was the beginning of what eventually ended up spending the rest of the 2000s and all of the 2010s finding another college and repairing what was broken while my peers went and moved on to their careers.

While I was attending IWU, I had a feeling the university just didn’t care about their students who commute. I had tried to confront IWU about the lack of the commuter’s lounge at the time because there was so much remodeling, renovating, and construction at that time. After 9/11, I went into panic mode because I did not know what to do or where to go for help when I needed it. Not helping matters was my mom’s failing health and my step-grandfather’s Alzheimer’s reaching a breaking point. Little did I ever know that I no clue I had my first “panic attack.” Those issues would take nearly two decades to finally resolve and normally it would take six months at best. Sadly my mother and step-grandfather died on May 10, 2002, and in January 2003, respectively. Eighteen years later, on February 9, 2019, I got alerted about a development from Ashley Lopez and Heather Cox that all IWU students would be required to live on campus; hence, confirming my suspicions when I attended IWU in 2001. I also learned that IWU didn’t care about the LGBT community yet has started to adapt recently according to Facebook posts I read. For those reasons above, I had initially blamed Jennie Conrad–she wrote that dreaded “9/27” letter that changed everything. However, after IWU revealed their housing policy requiring students to live on campus and confessing, I must rule Ms. Conrad out as a culprit. That was one reason why I left Marion on the afternoon of May 14, 2018.

Fast forward to August 25, 2020, with a gender transition, two adult daughters, three grandchildren, and relocating from Marion to Fort Wayne, my first day at IVY TECH Fort Wayne went down far smoother like beer because I was, in effect, unprepared at IWU Marion and the available resources and help were not familiar to me at IWU as well as in Marion. On my first day at IWU Marion, Samantha was eight and in the second grade and Tiffani was about to turn two while my mother, Margaret was beginning to lose her battle with diabetes and my brother, Albert was just about to start his job at Leroy’s Automotive Shop in Marion. If I had waited a year after graduating high school to attend IWU Marion, things would have been slightly different back then.

Like my first day at IWU Marion in 2001, I was no more anxious on my first day at IVY TECH Fort Wayne than I was at IWU Marion. It’s uncommon to see one attending college at 37 years of age. I realize that several, if not a few of my professors at IVY TECH Fort Wayne are in their late 30’s. I know this because I know someone I went to high school with is actually a professor at IVY TECH Muncie-Aaron Goodpaster-if my memory serves me correctly.

When I logged into Zoom for my virtual classes at IVY TECH Fort Wayne, I realized that there were a lot of 18 to 25-year-olds and when they saw me, I felt like a parental figure to these younger college students compared to me. What they don’t know is that having an older student in their mid to late 20’s or 30’s may sound odd yet has its advantages.

Before I even sent in my application to IVY TECH Fort Wayne last year, I had asked both my daughters as well as my friends in Grant County about their college experience. Many of them have told me it was nerve-wracking yet the most rewarding experience is when the diploma or degree is earned. Since I couldn’t even sit foot on Indiana Wesleyan University’s Marion campus for any reason–even attending my daughter’s 2017 graduation–otherwise I would be arrested for trespassing if I set foot on their campus, which was one of the consequences after being dis-enrolled from IWU Marion on September 27, 2001. So my daughter, Tiffani, and her wife, Jenna took my place. I even adopted a “No IWU Zone” in Marion and after I moved to Fort Wayne, adopted a similar “No IWU Zone”.

In summation and based on my personal experiences, I can conclude that I made the right decision to move from Marion to Fort Wayne and I must blame then-Life Center Counseling counselor (now Taylor University Psychology Professor) Vance Maloney since September 27, 2001, as one of the primary reasons why I left Marion. As for Vocational Rehabilitation concerning steps to further my education, nothing was done until January 19, 2018, after I received that one whistleblower tip that eventually led to more evidence and the Marion university announcing their housing policy where students must live on campus a year later.

As I end my post, I will say that at this point, should things at IVY TECH Fort Wayne go well, I will more than likely end up going to a four-year college in Fort Wayne, such as Indiana Tech or Purdue Fort Wayne, or if by some miracle, Indiana Wesleyan Univerity for readmission. However, should my readmission to Indiana Wesleyan Univerity be accepted, I will more than likely end up declining the opportunity to return to IWU but at least getting rid of the restrictions stemming from September 27, 2001, as part of any settlement I will offer. Make no mistake about it.

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