O’Neill Criminal Justice major Amy Pierce wants to become a lawyer.
“I’m going to law school—it’s going to happen,” she says proudly.
Just a few years ago, she wasn’t sure how she would reach that goal. She had her GED and wanted to attend IUPUI.
“I needed to get an education for me—not for anyone else—just for me,” Pierce says. “I knew if I got to IUPUI, I could connect with people who could help make things happen for me.”
But Pierce knew she wasn’t where she needed to be academically—at least not yet—so she enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College and began work on her associate degree in political science. Pierce’s plans wouldn’t stop there.
“I knew I didn’t want to wait to pursue my bachelor’s degree or retake any classes,” she says. “I wanted to go right from earning my associate degree at Ivy Tech to getting my bachelor’s degree.”
Get a jump on your bachelor’s degree
Pierce started searching for the best next step. Her Ivy Tech advisor told her about the Transfer as a Junior program.
The Transfer as a Junior program allows students to complete the first two years of their degree at Ivy Tech, earning an associate degree before transferring to IUPUI as juniors to complete their bachelor’s degree.
“My Ivy Tech advisor told me the Criminal Justice major would be a better route into law school because almost all of my credits would transfer to IUPUI, unlike with political science,” she explains.
Pierce says knowing what credits would transfer ahead of time was one of the biggest benefits to the program—and a big reason behind switching majors. In fact, students in the Criminal Justice transfer program can put up to 60 credits toward their bachelor’s degree with O’Neill. And they only need to complete 60 more when they arrive at IUPUI to earn their degree.
Participating in the Transfer as a Junior program means students also get the benefit of having advisors on both campuses.
“IUPUI has done a wonderful job in collaborating with Ivy Tech to help students know they really can earn their degrees,” Pierce says.
That cross-campus collaboration is a critical component to the success of the program and its students.
“Potential Ivy Tech transfer students have a team of advisors through our Passport Program at the Center for Transfer and Adult Students,” explains Robbie Lopez-Shue, CTAS’ interim executive director. “These advisors help students understand what to expect before they transfer and provide them with step-by-step instructions on how to complete their Ivy Tech degree and then transfer to IUPUI.”
“IUPUI and O’Neill have the resources to support students transferring from Ivy Tech,” Pierce explains. “There’s a lot of collaboration here to help students succeed.”
The O’Neill advantage
Student support comes from many sources, including the O’Neill advisors who set incoming transfer students up for success as well as the advisors who see them through their time here.
“O’Neill assigns you an advisor who knows and understands your goals,” she says. “I know who I’m talking to and they know me because we’ve developed a relationship. Having that kind of stability is great.”
Now that she’s part of the O’Neill IUPUI community, Pierce says she knows she’s in the right place.
“I think O’Neill has a lot to offer in terms of class sizes,” she explains. “You’re not sitting in a huge auditorium with a bunch of people. The classes are smaller than people may realize.”
For Fall 2021, the average undergraduate class at O’Neill had 25 students and the average graduate class had just 21 students. She says the people who make up those classes are another reason she loves O’Neill.
“What impressed me the most about O’Neill was its diversity,” she says. “As a mother in her 40s with a GED, I wasn’t treated any differently than the student coming straight out of high school with a 4.0 GPA. O’Neill is so accepting. They treat everyone the same.”
She also credits her success thus far to the support of faculty members who provide more than just an education for O’Neill students. They help them see what they are capable of as they pursue their future careers.
“As a student, you have to recognize when someone sees the potential in you and find out ways to collaborate on that potential,” she says.
Pierce was recently accepted into the IU McKinney Pathway to the Law program which gives undergraduates a better understanding of the legal field before they begin law school.
Thanks to her start in the Transfer as a Junior program, the pieces of Pierce’s career plan are falling into place. She can now focus on how she will make a difference with her degrees after law school. She sees herself as part of a broader movement toward positive change and hopes to work at either a nonprofit advocating for the LGBTQ community or to help reform the criminal justice system.
“We need more professionals and young people to get excited about criminal justice reform and being public servants,” she says. “Change is necessary and it’s coming—and thanks to Ivy Tech, IUPUI, and O’Neill, I plan to be a part of that.”