“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and a lemon cake, too!” Mechell Hardiman said.
Hardiman graduated this year with a degree in hospitality, but getting to the cap and gown was not easy. The Ivy Tech graduate was homeless during her time as a student. She studied in cramped hotels and suffered many sleepless nights. Hardiman admits that it was challenging to get to class on time and was sometimes hard to concentrate. With the support of her family and teachers, Hardiman excelled in school, despite her living situation, and because of her sheer determination, she was named an Ivy Tech Distinguished Graduate. She was at work at Railcats’ U.S. Steelyard when she learned the news.
“I was jumping up and down, I couldn’t believe it,” Hardiman said. “I called my mom, boyfriend, and everyone to tell them.”
Hardiman and her mother, Natasha Harden, attended school side-by-side. They carpooled, had lunch together, and pushed each other to succeed. Hardiman appreciated her mother’s support, because attending college was out of her comfort zone. Hardiman has dyslexia, and did not learn how to read until 7th grade. She had issues reading long passages, leaving out sentences, and misspelling words. She said her teachers worked with her and showed her how to work through her challenges.
“My mom and I fought hard for what we wanted,” Hardiman said.
Even though Hardiman was homeless and had a full course load, she wanted to be involved with her peers. She was vice president of the student government association and coordinated an event called SAFE to provide information, contraceptives, and self-defense demonstrations. She also helped coordinate a resource and referral fair. It was difficult to do from a hotel room, but she persisted because of her passion for these important social issues.
“The resource and referral fair was great to connect students with the community,” Hardiman said. “The SAFE event was important because even though we live in a beautiful world, there are things we need to be proactive about, and we refuse to be victims.”
Hardiman is ready for her next adventure. Thanks to her education, she landed a job as a kitchen manager in the Railcats stadium. She learned a lot about herself during her time as a student, and hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams. One of her biggest lessons she learned was to be herself. She feels living authentically is what draws people and good things into her life.
“I’m a fighter in my spirit and mind,” Hardiman said. “Life isn’t all peaches and cream so I had to pick myself up off of of the floor and get it done.”
When Hardiman was a little girl, she dreamed of someday being a chef. She knew she would get there someday and graduating from Ivy Tech this Spring was a dream come true.