A SAY IN EDUCATION

All Hoosier public university students had an opportunity in the spring to apply for a position on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

About a dozen applications were selected for interviews, and three of those names were sent to Gov. Mike Pence to make the final selection.

He ultimately chose Mika Mosier of Seymour to be the student representative on the 14-member commission.

She is the second Ivy Tech Community College student chosen to serve since 1990, when the state added a student and a faculty representative to the commission.

“I thought it was such an amazing opportunity to see kind of the behind the scenes of higher education and to be a part of the programs that as a student I am involved with every day,” Mosier said.

The commission was created in 1971 by an act of the General Assembly and signed into law by then-Gov. Edgar Whitcomb.

It was created to plan and coordinate Indiana’s state-supported system of post-high school education, including reviewing budgets and funding; approving new state colleges, branches or campuses; approving new degree offerings; and distributing aid from state student financial aid programs.

The governor appoints 12 members — nine representing a congressional district and three at-large members — to serve four-year terms. The student representative and faculty representative are appointed for two-year terms.

The commission is not a governing board, but a coordinating agency that works closely with Indiana’s public and independent colleges. It has strong working relationships with many other state agencies, including the Department of Education, Department of Workforce Development, The Center for Education and Career Innovation and Independent Colleges of Indiana.

Mosier’s term starts Friday and runs through June 30, 2018. She also will serve on the commission’s Student Success and Completion Committee, which develops policy and practice initiatives to help Hoosier postsecondary students graduate from college on time and without excessive debt.

Mosier’s first meeting with the commission will be in August at Ball State University. Each monthly meeting will be at a different location around the state.

So far, she has met Teresa Lubbers, who was appointed in 2009 to serve as Indiana’s commissioner for higher education, and one commission member. In July, she will have an opportunity to meet the other commission members.

“I hope then to get more of a feel of what my responsibilities will actually be as a student representative,” Mosier said. “I feel like I have a great responsibility to the hundreds of thousands of students within Indiana to be their voice and do it well.”

Mosier grew up in Jonesville and graduated from Columbus East High School in 1997.

About six years after that, she began classes at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus. She was a single parent at the time, and one of her children got sick, so her pursuit of a degree stopped.

About 10 years later, she decided it was time to finish her degree.

She now has another year before earning her associate degree in accounting from Ivy Tech, and then she will transfer to IUPUI to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business with a minor in forensic accounting. Her ultimate goal is obtain a position within the FBI’s Forensic Accountant Support Team.

A few years ago, the commission created an initiative called You Can Go Back, targeting students like Mosier who have college credits and then stopped for whatever reason.

The initiative is helping students who have already done some work not take as long to complete the degree or credential they need for better work or a promotion in their job, Mosier said.

Indiana has partnered with the Lumina Foundation to hit a goal of 60 percent of Hoosiers having a secondary higher education credential by 2018. Currently, it’s about half that number.

Programs such as iGrad and Jobs for America’s Graduates and opportunities to earn college credits, certifications and associate degrees while in high school are encouraging young students to earn higher degrees, Mosier said.

“That’s an amazing leap for these students to take toward a bachelor’s and then possibly a master’s or a doctorate,” she said.

Mosier also said it’s important to stop Indiana’s “brain drain,” which is when people go to school and earn a degree or credential in Indiana but find a job in another state.

“Part of that is the jobs being here, and part of that is Hoosiers having what they need for those jobs,” Mosier said.

As part of her application to be on the commission, Mosier had to write an essay explaining why she wanted the position. She shared her thoughts on how success at Ivy Tech is different than success at a traditional four-year school.

Ivy Tech students include parents, full-time workers, people who work multiple jobs and those who take care of aging parents.

Mosier said she is excited to share those stories as a member of the commission.

“Ivy Tech is the largest community college system in the country. We do a lot of things right. Nobody is perfect, no institution is perfect, but we do a lot of things right,” she said.

“Being able to take some of these things we do right and not only show the country and the world what we are doing, but being able to take our students’ stories and say, ‘This is what we need to meet this Lumina Foundation goal of 60 percent by 2018,’ Ivy Tech students are a key portion of that.”

Mosier file

Name: Mika Mosier

Age: 36

Hometown: Jonesville

Residence: Seymour

Education: Columbus East High School (1997); Currently working on her associate degree in accounting from Ivy Tech Community College Columbus, and then plans to transfer to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business with a minor in forensic accounting

College involvement: President of student government, vice president of Phi Theta Kappa, treasurer of Ivy Business Network, work-study with paramedic science department

Family: Husband, Bobby Mosier; five children; parents, Donald and Jerri Frey

On the Web

For information about the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, visit in.gov/che.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.