Father, daughter earn degrees at Ivy Tech

(WANE Photo)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fewer bonds are stronger than the bond that ties a daughter and her father. For Nina Bibbo and her father Robert, their bond has grown over the last couple years as both went to school to earn Associates’ degrees at Ivy Tech.

The two were among the 1,242 students at Ivy Tech’s graduation ceremony Friday night at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. The number of graduates was a new record for Ivy Tech.

“She was going to college, so I decided to go back to college and see if we could graduate together,” Robert, 48, said.

The father-daughter combo learned two years ago that they could both graduate this spring, as long as both students stayed on track.

“We were in a little bit of a competition with grades,” Nina, 21, said.  “He would brag about the grades he got on his test, and I would brag about mine.”

School has always been important to the Bibbo family, but adversity stood in the way.

Nina would drop out at North Side High School when she found out she was pregnant.

“I just knew going to school full-time, five days a week, was going to be very hard with a new baby,” she said.

Her daughter is now four.

“I didn’t want to stop going to school,” she said. “I didn’t want to be your typical teen mom.”

Nina would enroll in Ivy Tech while working to earn her GED.

“That’s one reason she signed up at Ivy Tech,” Robert said about his daughter.  “You can start taking courses before graduating high school or earning a GED.”

While working on her Respiratory Care degree, Nina earned a 4.0 GPA. Her instructor said Nina graduated number one in this year’s graduating class.

“Having a child as young as she did and still applying herself, being responsible and mature to finish this degree, I’m just so proud of her,” Robert said.

Nina’s daughter and husband, along with her mother and other family members were in the crowd to see Nina and Robert pick up their degrees.

However, Nina wasn’t the only one to exceed in the classroom at Ivy Tech.

Robert won $20,000 to start a new business. It was part of a contest through Ivy Tech, called the New Venture Competition. With his winnings, Robert started American Combat Veteran Clothing, a business that sells military clothes to civilians. Robert said he wanted to employee veterans to work for him.

Robert, a veteran of the Army National Guard, had to look for a new line of work after an injury.

“I tore the labrum in my hip before we left for Iraq,” he said. “I basically had to get an education and find a desk job versus the physical labor jobs I’ve had throughout my life.”

At Friday night’s ceremony, both couldn’t have been prouder.

“I am proud to know one day my daughter will see our story,” Nina said. “I will be completely honest with her, and tell her what I went through, and that I’m still proud.”

“How many people get to say they get to graduate with their daughter or son,” Robert asked. “I’m very proud of her and she’s very proud of me.”

Besides running his business, Robert said he plans to enroll at IPFW in the fall. His degree at Ivy Tech is in Computer Information Technology.

Nina said she hoped to learn about a job in her field in the next few days. She added she hoped to enroll in Trine University to pursue her Bachelor’s degree.

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