John Ivey - Discovery

It’s not how you start but how you finish.

John Ivey, a senior agricultural education student, discovered that life is all about the finish.

Ivey is a non-traditional student with a belt full of experiences. At the age of 34, the Raleigh, N.C., native finally will receive his bachelor’s degree in December.

He started his collegiate career studying business management at Appalachian State University in 1996, then transferred to North Carolina State University (NCSU) in 2000. By 2004, Ivey was knee deep in his career as a construction worker and became the warranty manager at JJ Nelson flooring company in 2006.   

“I decided to drop out of college because I was able to enter the workforce and make a decent living without a college education,” he said. “That proved to be futile once the housing bubble popped.”

No longer content with his situation, he enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University in 2011.

“The biggest motivating factor for me to complete school was my daughter,” he said. “Not only do I want to provide the best living environment for her, but I also want to set a good example so that she understands the importance of education.”

After transferring from two universities and starting a career and family, Ivey found what he had been long searching for in N.C. A&T’s School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

Prior to leaving NCSU, Ivey discovered a love for horticulture. He studied agroecology at the university and helped start two community gardens. While out of school he continued his passion for horticulture and volunteerism. In 2010, he helped start the 5th Street community garden in Wilmington, N.C.

His green thumb gave him the confidence to focus on an education in agriculture.

“The biggest difference was that I was ready to be in school this time. I knew what I wanted to study and I was ready to be a serious student,” said Ivey.

Since enrolling at A&T, Ivey has made the Chancellor’s List every semester and is a member of the Alpha Kappa Mu, Alpha Chi and Golden Key honor societies.

Given the prestige of his academic achievements, some might find it hard to believe the scholar faced numerous obstacles and challenges along the way. Ivey attests that it isn’t easy returning to school after 10 years.    

“North Carolina A&T has been a different kind of educational experience for me,” he said. “One of the obvious hurdles was that I was older than most of the rest of the student body. Another big difference is the way information was disseminated had changed drastically.”

Ivey has benefited from the university’s growing distance learning community, which provides virtual learning through online courses and grants access to quality education for students whose circumstances prevent traditional access to the school’s undergraduate, graduate and professional programs.

“This is my first time as a primarily online student. The teachers have been accessible and willing to help,” said Ivey.

He encourages other non-traditional and transfer students to, “take control of your situation and make it work for you. You have proven that you want to excel and N.C. A&T will provide the opportunity and space for you to do exactly that,” he said.

As for Ivey, upon graduation he hopes to work in conservation in a private industry or with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Points of Pride