Contact: Dr. Martha Parham
Recipients are examples of community colleges’ ability to change lives
Washington, DC—Community colleges provide a pathway to educational and career success for millions of students. This year, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is honoring three outstanding community college alumni who have made a positive impact on their communities, the nation and the world.
They will be recognized for their achievements at the association’s annual conference, AACC Annual, on Tuesday, May 3 in New York City.
Dr. Karla Ivankovich is a Nationally Certified, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and president and co-founder of OnePatient Global Health Initiative. She started her path to a Ph.D. at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) in Illinois. But it was not without its challenges.
The closer Ivankovich got to graduation at LLCC, the more inspired she felt. Her plans hit a speedbump when she found out she was pregnant. At 12 weeks pregnant, she was rushed to the hospital for the first time, experiencing contractions. For the next 24 weeks, she was in and out of the hospital, and on bed rest. Rather than allow her to drop or fail her classes, in her final semester, each of her professors worked with her, some, from her hospital room, to ensure that she would be able to graduate. She was allowed to leave the hospital to attend graduation — in a wheelchair — and returned to the hospital shortly after. Her son was born, without complication July 8, 1993, and Ivankovich was able to begin school at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She earned her Ph.D. at Northcentral University.
Ivankovich now gives back to the field by publishing academic research in the areas of body image, biopsychosocial aspects impacting health disparity, discrimination in healthcare, marginalized populations, millennial issues, obesity, privilege, self-esteem and stigma. Her work in the field of domestic abuse is being used in training programs around the country including several law firms in Chicago and in Arizona and New York City. And her work in the field of mental health is being used by physical rehabilitation programs, medical offices and several churches. OnePatient Global Health Initiative, which she founded with her husband, has been designed to establish sustainable programs of outreach, prevention and patient and physician education at multiple locations throughout the disparate areas of Chicago and in Haiti. Ivankovich and her husband strive to improve health outcomes in some of the poorest communities by removing barriers to access and linking behavioral and physical healthcare services by taking all patients, without discrimination and regardless of ability to pay.
Alfredo Salas is the owner of the largest Hispanic franchise for Pizza Hut. But what he likes to talk about most is his educational journey and the start he got at Miami Dade College (MDC) in Florida. He wasn’t sure college was for him, but he found his way as a student at MDC and now, decades later, chairs the MDC Foundation Board of Directors.
Salas’ experience in the food service industry started in his early teens, when he got a job working at a Burger King restaurant. He became the youngest area manager for the company at only 18 years of age, around the time he enrolled at MDC. Salas continued his studies, graduating from Florida International University and obtaining his Certified Public Accounting license.
For several years, he worked as a CPA doing audits and SEC work for important national clients. He eventually returned to Burger King and held several positions of ascending responsibility before joining PepsiCo, where he worked in accounting and finance. In 1998, Salas used his experience to put together an investment team to purchase the Pizza Hut operations and rights in all of Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties, making him the owner of the largest Hispanic franchise operation for Pizza Hut.
Throughout his career, he kept in contact with MDC and was able to join its volunteer Foundation Board nearly a decade ago, eventually becoming vice chair, and today the chairman. He has been a dynamic leader in this role, regularly speaking before the media and at numerous college events where he always gushes about his own experiences as a student. He often discusses his immigrant parents’ work ethic and dreams for him and his sister. Salas has left an indelible mark on the institution.
Dr. Indigo Triplett was once told by a high school counselor that she wasn’t “college material.” Now she has a Ph.D., and is thriving as an entrepreneur, consultant and author. Her time at Waubonsee Community College (Ill.) helped kickstart her educational journey.
Triplett joined the U.S. Marines following high school. When pregnancy complications shifted her service to the Reserves, she enrolled at Waubonsee Community College (WCC) where she was inspired by one of her instructors. She graduated in 1988 and continued her education, all the while working full-time primarily in helping people make career choices.
In 1997, Triplett founded Careers in Transition, Inc. and was recognized as a Top 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America by Inc. Magazine in 2012 and 2013. She possesses more than 20 years of successfully owning and operating businesses in the United States and Malaysia. In recognition of her success to grow and manage a multimillion-dollar organization, Triplett has been featured by many media outlets and Ebony Magazine referred to her as “the $18 Million Dollar Woman.” As an author, she has written three books and contributed a weekly mental wellness column for Inc. Magazine. And more recently, Triplett has owned and operated 4D Performance SDN BHD in Malaysia and has been featured as a wellness expert in seminars, keynote addresses and radio interviews. In addition,
With her deep-rooted passion for serving others, she recently launched the nonprofit, Indigo Insights. In response to the global pandemic, Dr. Indigo moderated a webinar panel discussion of mental health professionals for a “3rd Thursday Talk” through Rotary International in Malaysia. As a public service, she also offered daily webinars as well as a weekly SerentiTea Sunday to assist individuals dealing with the pandemic and associated lockdown.
As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), delivers educational and economic opportunity for the nearly 12 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support they need to deliver on the mission of increasing economic mobility for all.