NOTRE DAME — While most people her age are finishing up high school, 18-year-old Joy Anderson walked off the stage Friday with her college diploma in hand.
Anderson, a Goshen native, graduated cum laude with an associate of arts degree in general studies from Ivy Tech alongside hundreds of fellow graduates at Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion Friday night.
She started classes at Ivy Tech North Central at the tender age of 15 after being home-schooled her entire life.
Anderson said she skipped the eighth grade because her mother thought she was too advanced for the subject material. Anderson decided to enroll at Ivy Tech to earn high school and college credits simultaneously.
While her peers were navigating the perils of drivers ed, Anderson was adjusting to sharing a college classroom with students five, 10 and 20 years her senior.
“I just remember the first semester, it was just so overwhelming because — especially at Ivy Tech where it’s not just 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds, it’s people of different ages,” she said. “So to be in class with 60-year-olds, 20-year-olds, and I was 15, it was very overwhelming.”
Anderson she eventually got adjusted to the demands of college courses and took a particular interest in psychology in sociology.
She was even granted a 10-year award by 4-H and the 4-H “I Dare You” award, which recognizes personal integrity, and took part in a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.
Anderson isn’t sure what her academic future holds, but she is getting married to her long-time boyfriend in October, shortly after her 19th birthday.
Anderson doesn’t regret starting and finishing college at such an early age. In fact, she couldn’t be happier that she did.
“I saved so much money staying home,” she said. “I was able to work full time. I was able to stay close to my fiance.”
Anderson’s accomplishments have not gone unnoticed, even among the higher-ups at the college.
Ivy Tech president Thomas Snyder addressed Anderson during the commencement ceremony, telling her story to the crowd and rattling off her accomplishments while at school.
Anderson stood as hundreds of family members and friends of the graduates cheered her on with a rousing round of applause.
Snyder used Anderson’s story and the stories of three other graduates to highlight the different walks of life Ivy Tech students come from. When he asked all those who would be the first in their family to graduate, over half of the students left their seats.
Chris Murphy, CEO of 1st Source Bank, addressed the graduates, stressing the importance of frugality and living below their means.
“You have practiced the art of self-denial and delayed gratification,” Murphy said. “You have persevered and you are ready to move on to the next step, to the next phase. You’ve acquired a skill, that self-denial, that will help you truly be happy in life.”
Murphy went on to read letters from various, anonymous graduates, telling their stories and reasons for attending the college.
“The one thing you all have in common is that you have learned one of life’s most critical lessons,” Murphy said. “You are responsible for your own fate.”