Lessons beyond the classroom

Evan Shroyer overcomes early challenges to excel as a student – and aspiring educator


Pursuing a college degree wasn’t the norm in Evan Shroyer’s family –
and initially he wasn’t in any hurry to buck the trend.

“Most of my relatives work as farmers, demolition specialists, and other trade professions,” Shroyer explains. “Going to school just isn’t part of our culture.”

After graduating from Southside High School in Muncie, he went on the road as a missionary in Canada. When he returned home, Shroyer says he was “going nowhere.” His most promising career option was following the path taken by some of his family members and working as a demolition specialist.

At the age of 21, Shroyer married his wife Emily, who encouraged him to continue his education.

“’Just take one class,’ she persuaded,” Shroyer recalls. “After some resistance, I enrolled in a fundamental algebra course at Ivy Tech Community College to test the waters. That course built my confidence, and I decided to enroll full-time.”

But it wasn’t smooth sailing just yet. Shroyer soon found out that juggling a full class schedule with a full-time job and a family was a delicate balance. His first few semesters were rocky, especially once his daughter was born. By the fall semester of 2011, his GPA had bottomed out at 1.0. In retrospect, he sees that the challenges were greater than he imagined they would be.

“If you are working and going to school, you will have moments of stress and feeling overwhelmed, perhaps even to the point of wanting to quit,” Shroyer says. “There were a lot of late nights and early mornings. It’s hard work.”

After acknowledging that it wasn’t going to be easy, Shroyer gradually improved his GPA. He credits Ivy Tech’s flexible class schedules and understanding professors for allowing him to bounce back and keep moving forward. He also shared the highs and lows with his family, building a support system from the ground up. He and his wife spent many late nights working on homework side-by-side and meeting academic milestones together.

As a result of all the support he received, Shroyer continued to improve. In 2012, for example, he was named to the Dean’s list – not just once but twice. And this spring, he achieved something that once seemed beyond his reach: obtaining an associate degree in elementary education.

It’s clear that Shroyer’s chosen field of study is no accident. In fact, he says he hopes his degree will be part of a new family tradition: a succession of Shroyers working as teachers.

“My wife recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art education, and I’m transferring my credits to Ball State to also earn a four-year degree in elementary education,” Shroyer explains. “Eventually, my goal is to become an elementary school principal.”

His development as a student will give Shroyer an advantage in the classroom: he will be able to speak to struggling students with the voice of experience.

“You have to take it one semester at a time,” Shroyer advises. “Be smart about your resources and expenses, including how you spend your time – both in and outside of the classroom. I have Ivy Tech to thank for teaching me that.”

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