Changing focus, aiming higher

A second look at college propels Casey Bridgeford from Ivy Tech Community College to UPenn

When you’re an entrepreneur at heart, your first instinct is to jump in
with both feet. You want to get out there and start creating something from nothing. And that’s exactly the path Casey Bridgeford took after
high school.

“I was adamantly opposed to going to school,” says Bridgeford. “I learn differently. I thought that meant I wouldn’t learn well from being in a classroom.”

casey

Instead of attending college, Bridgeford jumped into the business world by working in the non-profit sector for ten years and then starting his own marketing and advertising company.

When his business wasn’t as successful as he had hoped, he decided to pursue another opportunity. He applied for more than 200 jobs but was surprised when he got only three call-backs.

“I’ve owned my own business,” he thought at the time. “That should weigh more than my lack of degree.”

Unfortunately, his real-world experience held little value to potential employers, and it soon became obvious he needed more skills in order to achieve his long-term goals. Bridgeford began to reflect on his life and the path he had chosen.

“Have I really set the right foundation down for my family?” he says he asked himself. “That day, I made the decision to go back to school.”

Bridgeford’s connections in the community encouraged him to enroll at Ivy Tech Community College. At the start, his primary goal was to earn good enough grades to retain a scholarship he had been awarded. It wasn’t long before he established himself as a stellar student, consistently on the Dean’s List. That led Bridgeford to consider what else he might be able to accomplish.

“I began to set my sights higher,” he says. “I began to inquire about the possibility of going to an Ivy League university. I had no idea what it took or any idea about the application process.”

This year, that dream became a reality after Bridgeford was accepted at the University of Pennsylvania. He plans to transfer the credits he earned at Ivy Tech to earn a bachelor’s degree in international relations and eventually pursue a master’s degree.

Bridgeford says his experience at Ivy Tech transformed him from someone who adamantly rejected the benefits of higher education to one who sees it as an essential tool for achieving his goals. Accordingly, he has become an advocate for young people to attend college.

“I can, and any other student can, make it from right here,” Bridgeford states. “Anyone can achieve anything from starting right here at Ivy Tech.”

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