TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – ITT Tech student Ronnie Wyche couldn’t believe the news. It brought tears to his eyes and broke his heart.
ITT Technical Institutes announced Tuesday that it will be closing all of its academic locations around the country, including its Tampa campus at 4809 Memorial Highway.
All of Wyche’s hard work, all of his long hours studying, all of his time are now history. The disabled veteran and father of seven was trying to make a better life for himself and his family as a student. He wanted to expand his horizons and focus on higher education.
For the last year, Wyche’s success story was playing out just as he imagined. Then, just after Labor Day, he received the worst news he could possibly imagine, the news of the closure.
He felt sick. His first thought was, “How will I tell my children?”
“They see their daddy doing his homework. They’re proud of me. What am I going to tell them? ‘Daddy’s not going to school.’ I haven’t told them yet,” Wyche said.
He then turned ot the inevitable follow-up questions. How would he find a job? What school would take him? Will his credits transfer?
Wyche is now looking for answers. He has questions for ITT Tech: “How could you? How dare you? Let’s make right what you’ve done wrong,” Wyche said.
He showed up to Hillsborough Community College Thursday morning hoping to find some answers. HCC also made an announcement Tuesday; it is stepping in to help.
HCC is offering free assistance to displaced ITT Tech students, advising them on future options. When Wyche got to the campus Thursday and began speaking with advisers, he felt overwhelmed, he admits. A lot of it was anger, he explained, along with frustration and fear.
As Wyche walked out the door with tears in his eyes, he stopped briefly to speak with News Channel 8. His anxiety was palpable. He began recounting recent events, and as the conversation continued, he began to feel at ease. He said he just wanted to be heard during this time of crisis. The tears in his eyes eventually softened, and a smile crept across his face.
“It you wouldn’t have stopped me before I walked out of this door, I probably would have walked home. I felt lost and abandoned. I really did. HCC and other places, they’re trying to help,” Wyche said.
HCC Dean of Student Services Joe Bentrovato was thrilled to help this struggling veteran.
“We want to help students like Ronnie. That’s what we’re here for. What ITT Tech did was appalling. And sadly, so many of these credits will not transfer. But, we are working to help give these students options, whether they become a student with us or another institution,” Bentrovato said.
In addition, Congresswoman Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, was so moved by what Tampa Bay area students are going through, she has now called on the U.S. Department of Education to step in and offer assistance to students. Castor condemned the actions of ITT Tech, describing them as “deceptive” and “fraudulent.”
Congresswoman Castor said the following resources are available to displaced ITT Tech students:
- The U.S. Department of Education has set up a website to help ITT students. It’s here.
- Veterans can call Student Veterans of America to get expert guidance specific to a student’s circumstances. Call 202-223-4710 or go to http://www.studentveterans.org.
- Hillsborough Community College has a team is in place to help with everything from advising, financial aid, transcript evaluation, counseling and other support services. The team will be available Monday – Tuesday from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Wednesday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. For more information, call (813) 253-7295.