Get inspired and start the path to furthering your education.

I ended up going to a trade school and got a certificate for my certified nursing assistant. I decided after a while that I needed something to better support my children with. If you're thinking about college, go. Don't wait for an opportune time. It's never going to fit perfectly into your schedule. 

Alyssia

I tried to go to college right after high school but trying to balance school and having my first child was very difficult.

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In my senior year of high school I got pregnant with my first child. I tried to go to college right after that but trying to balance having a child and being so young was very difficult. I had my second child shortly after that. 

I ended up going to a trade school and got a certificate for my certified nursing assistant. I decided after a while that I needed something to better support my children with. If you're thinking about college, go. Don't wait for an opportune time. It's never going to fit perfectly into your schedule. 

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Even if you don't know what you want to do, when you get there you can figure out exactly where your future might be. It doesn't matter what path you might take, if you get the foundation right you really set yourself up for success. 

Joe

I wanted to further my education but wasn't ready for a four year university.

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College was important to me because in this day and age I really believe you need a degree. My advice would be to take the opportunity to pursue an education. 

Even if you don't know what you want to do, when you get there you can figure out exactly where your future might be. It doesn't matter what path you might take, if you get the foundation right you really set yourself up for success. 

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I found myself struggling and couldn't understand the curriculum. I figured college wasn't for me so I dropped out and worked at a local factory. As time wore on I realized that wasn't the life I wanted. I told myself that if I wanted to be successful I had to go back to college. 

Antoine

I came to college reading at a fourth grade reading level.

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I was placed in the special education system adn stayed there until my junior year of high school. I came to college unprepared and didn't have the proper mindset to succeed in the classroom. 

I found myself struggling and couldn't understand the curriculum. I figured college wasn't for me so I dropped out and worked at a local factory. As time wore on I realized that wasn't the life I wanted. I told myself that if I wanted to be successful I had to go back to college. 

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As a student employee at Jackson, I took interest with working in higher education because of the opportunities it afforded me. Working at the community college I was a student at has been a pretty amazing experience. I like to think of it as giving back. Attending here helped shape me into who I am today and to be able to work with students every day who are coming here for a fresh start that really are going to college for a career like something I have is amazing. 

Jennifer

I went to a private university on a scholarship and decided that wasn't for me.

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I didn't like the size of it or the atmosphere so I went back to school at Jackson to figure out what I wanted to do. 

As a student employee at Jackson, I took interest with working in higher education because of the opportunities it afforded me. Working at the community college I was a student at has been a pretty amazing experience. I like to think of it as giving back. Attending here helped shape me into who I am today and to be able to work with students every day who are coming here for a fresh start that really are going to college for a career like something I have is amazing. 

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You have to put in the effort and once you get the results and realize that it was solely based on yourself and the effort you put forth, it is so much more rewarding looking back knowing what you had to do to get there with your family and friends helping. Each piece that you can learn in college puts you above and beyond those who haven't been there. The biggest thing about college is the more you put in there, the more you get out of it.

John

When I entered college, I wasn't college material.

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What you find is that when you get into college, your entire life is before you.

You have to put in the effort and once you get the results and realize that it was solely based on yourself and the effort you put forth, it is so much more rewarding looking back knowing what you had to do to get there with your family and friends helping. Each piece that you can learn in college puts you above and beyond those who haven't been there. The biggest thing about college is the more you put in there, the more you get out of it.

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It was so nice to get through a program, apply for a job and nail the interview. I wanted that job and I got it. I know this program helped me achieve that. 

Mark

College opened my eyes to things I hadn't been exposed to.

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I was real nervous about going back to school, but when I met the instructor he was awesome and real easy to get along with. 

It was so nice to get through a program, apply for a job and nail the interview. I wanted that job and I got it. I know this program helped me achieve that. 

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Being 46 years old and being out of school for almost 30 years, there was a fear that held me back. Once I got here and got involved with some of the programs here, I felt like I belonged and that no question I asked would be a wrong one. I would tell anyone from any age group that it's never going to be easy without a college degree. I've been there for a very long time. 

Mary

I was 46 years old when I came back to college.

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My daughter and my son were going to State Fair Community College and they invited me to come along and see if there were any classes I could take. That was the catalyst that brought me back to school. 

Being 46 years old and being out of school for almost 30 years, there was a fear that held me back. Once I got here and got involved with some of the programs here, I felt like I belonged and that no question I asked would be a wrong one. I would tell anyone from any age group that it's never going to be easy without a college degree. I've been there for a very long time. 

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I was worried about the work load and concerned that I wouldn't be able to finish. I keep telling myself that putting the work in now is what I should have done a long time ago. 

Luke

I decided to go back to school 9 years after I graduated the first time.

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I became unhappy with what I was doing and didn't feel like I was getting what I could out of a career. I wanted to pursue something that is of interest to me and motivates me to go to work every day. 

I was worried about the work load and concerned that I wouldn't be able to finish. I keep telling myself that putting the work in now is what I should have done a long time ago. 

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There's never a better time than now to go back to school. The longer you wait, the more you're going to put it off and the less likely you are to get back in and stick with it. If you don't do it now, you probably never will.

James

There's never a better time than now to go back to school.

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I've been into electronics since I was a little kid. I always wanted to be an electrical engineer. 

There's never a better time than now to go back to school. The longer you wait, the more you're going to put it off and the less likely you are to get back in and stick with it. If you don't do it now, you probably never will.

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I've learned more while I've been in school than I have anywhere else and I've been a mechanic my whole life. 

Bradly

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do.

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I like to be taught one on one and that's something that is available. I can call anytime I need something or have a question.

I've learned more while I've been in school than I have anywhere else and I've been a mechanic my whole life. 

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I honestly wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for this program. Don't give up. Even if you can only do one class a semester, do it. At one point you'll be at the end, even if it takes six years like it took me. 

Kelly

I was a teen mom and I always knew I wanted to do more than get my GED.

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When my son got older, I started taking one class at a time. I wanted my son to see me graduate from college because I can't tell him that it's important if I don't do it myself. 

I honestly wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for this program. Don't give up. Even if you can only do one class a semester, do it. At one point you'll be at the end, even if it takes six years like it took me. 

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You never have to stop. You never have to think life ended at high school or that your education ended at a certain age limit. You can always go back and do whatever interests you. Never give up on yourself. 

Don

You're never too old to go back to school.

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I have been a union carpenter for 22 years and I love it, but I am ready for a career change. I can't see myself doing it for 20 more years. I want a career that's less physical on my body and something I can do for a lot longer. 

You never have to stop. You never have to think life ended at high school or that your education ended at a certain age limit. You can always go back and do whatever interests you. Never give up on yourself. 

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Don't ever think just because of your age or gender that you can't do something. Whatever you want to do, whatever you love, do that. I never knew that I would love wiring cabinets and building big machines but I do and I am good at it. 

Stephanie

I was raising six children on my own when I first started school.

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I did not graduate from high school. I got my GED and that always bothered me. I was determined that I would be the first one in my family to have a college degree. 

Don't ever think just because of your age or gender that you can't do something. Whatever you want to do, whatever you love, do that. I never knew that I would love wiring cabinets and building big machines but I do and I am good at it. 

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The level that I could achieve was maxed out. I was apprehensive, maybe because of the old adage 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks.' Once I finish with my program, my plans are to return to the manufacturing industry in the capacity of a production manager. 

Todd

I am the first person in my family to attempt college.

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If someone told me I was going to go to college or aquire any kind of certificate I would have been skeptical. I worked in a lot of factories and for 25 years or so I've been a supervisor. The level that I could achieve was maxed out. I was apprehensive, maybe because of the old adage 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks.' 

The level that I could achieve was maxed out. I was apprehensive, maybe because of the old adage 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks.' Once I finish with my program, my plans are to return to the manufacturing industry in the capacity of a production manager. 

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If you want to do it and you've got your mind set on it, you've got to stay on top of it and constantly go for that goal. 

Tim

Ever since I was a freshman in high school, I knew I wanted to go to welding school.

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I knew I had to work at it and get it done because it's not easy. You have to work hard and keep working and eventually you'll get the hang of it. 

If you want to do it and you've got your mind set on it, you've got to stay on top of it and constantly go for that goal. 

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I know it might be hard to set aside the time to go, but it can't do anything but help. It will more than likely help you get a better job and a better career in something that is long term. 

Riley

A lot of my friends had stuff lined up as soon as they graduated high school and went straight to work.

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I wanted something that was a little better career-wise for the long-term and I felt like I needed college to help me achieve that. 

I know it might be hard to set aside the time to go, but it can't do anything but help. It will more than likely help you get a better job and a better career in something that is long term. 

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There were several instructors along the way who guided me and were critical in making me a success story of Paris Junior College. At fifty-something, I was deathly afraid. I hadn't been in school for thirty two years and my biggest obstacle was that fear. When you go back, give it everything you've got and learn all you can. There will be instructors who will pass along wisdom to you that you will carry with you for the rest of your life - like I have. 

Kathy

On my fiftieth birthday, I got notice that I was losing my job.

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Back when I was a child, I used to think I wanted to be a nurse but I didn't have the support of my family and I didn't know how to go about it.

There were several instructors along the way who guided me and were critical in making me a success story of Paris Junior College. At fifty-something, I was deathly afraid. I hadn't been in school for thirty two years and my biggest obstacle was that fear. When you go back, give it everything you've got and learn all you can. There will be instructors who will pass along wisdom to you that you will carry with you for the rest of your life - like I have. 

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Change is always scary, but it's scarier to be in the same place for the rest of your life. Break out of your comfort zone and go back to school because at least with an education you have options that you didn't have before. 

Jennifer

With an education, you have options that you didn't have before.

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I got tired of working but not towards anything. I wanted to invest in myself and my future. 

Change is always scary, but it's scarier to be in the same place for the rest of your life. Break out of your comfort zone and go back to school because at least with an education you have options that you didn't have before. 

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 No matter how difficult your situation is - whether you think you can't do it because you're a single mom - do it for your kids. It is well worth it to go to school. 

Rachel

Going back to school was kind of an accident, but I just rolled with the punches.

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Go back to school - it will be the best experience of your life, the greatest decision.

 No matter how difficult your situation is - whether you think you can't do it because you're a single mom - do it for your kids. It is well worth it to go to school. 

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The thought of finishing something I have started, earning my degree and moving onto a career instead of another menial job keeps me motivated. Do not wait to go back to school, it will be the best decision you have ever made. 

Chris

I am a high school dropout and lived paycheck to paycheck for most of my adult life.

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The stress of living from paycheck to paycheck and the thought of furthering my education to work towards a goal of making a comfortable living drove me to go back to school. 

The thought of finishing something I have started, earning my degree and moving onto a career instead of another menial job keeps me motivated. Do not wait to go back to school, it will be the best decision you have ever made. 

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Without Eastern and the education they gave me, I would not be where I am today. My advice is pretty blunt - don't wait, go now. You will never regret furthering your education. You can accomplish anything if you try hard. 

Heather

I knew that I wanted to further my education but I didn't know where to begin.

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I had a job at the bank already, but I wanted more. I wanted to set an example for my four year old daughter and give her a role model to look up to. I now have two daughters and I want them to go to college. I want them to know what it means to have a good education. 

Without Eastern and the education they gave me, I would not be where I am today. My advice is pretty blunt - don't wait, go now. You will never regret furthering your education. You can accomplish anything if you try hard. 

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We felt like with what we knew and what we were being taught, we would be able to work well together. It as neat, kind of like building your own little house together. I can't believe our salon has been open for seven months now. 

Anna

When I started high school, it was a big deal for everyone to know what they wanted to do. I didn't know for a long time.

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About halfway through the cosmetology program, two other girls and I decided we wanted to open our own business.

We felt like with what we knew and what we were being taught, we would be able to work well together. It as neat, kind of like building your own little house together. I can't believe our salon has been open for seven months now. 

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Employment was hard. I knew I needed to educate myself to find a better job and a better life. I work a full-time job and stay in school because being busy is being good. 

Carl

My mom graduated from Eastern and influenced me to go back to school.

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Knowing that I can accomplish anything that I start is incredible. Eastern helped me get my GED because I did not have a high school diploma when I decided to further my education. 

Employment was hard. I knew I needed to educate myself to find a better job and a better life. I work a full-time job and stay in school because being busy is being good. 

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What keeps me motivated is a great support system at home and the discipline I perfected serving in the military. If you're going to go back to school, my advice is to be ready and stay dedicated. 

William

I graduated from high school in 1983 and joined the Army. I served for 20 years before retiring and working on the police force.

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I wanted to further my education and get into another field of work.

What keeps me motivated is a great support system at home and the discipline I perfected serving in the military. If you're going to go back to school, my advice is to be ready and stay dedicated. 

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My daughter is who motivates me to get an education. She needs to be taken care of and I can't do that with a low-paying job. 

Ben

I dropped out of high school as a senior and got my GED.

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Since I've been out, my lungs have collapsed multiple times causing me not to be able to do the work I used to. 

My daughter is who motivates me to get an education. She needs to be taken care of and I can't do that with a low-paying job. 

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My advice is to pace yourself - always take your time. Get to know your peers and build a network that will support you. 

Carlos

I wasn't ready for college right out of high school. I needed to learn more about myself.

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I took a five year break after finishing high school and used that time to figure out what I really wanted to do. The gap allowed me to mature and learn to be more responsible with my time. 

My advice is to pace yourself - always take your time. Get to know your peers and build a network that will support you. 

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It leads you to better things. I couldn't be happier with where I am today, and it's all due to the education I received. 

Taylor

The best advice I can give is don't give up.

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Always go for what you can and never give up on your dreams.

It leads you to better things. I couldn't be happier with where I am today, and it's all due to the education I received. 

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Everybody has a right to an education. Everybody deserves to be educated. Do not hesitate. Just do what you've got to do. 

Adriana

I am the daughter of immigrant parents that came to the United States over thirty years ago.

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They had nothing when they came here. They worked from sun-up to sun-down all day every day to get where they needed to be. 

Everybody has a right to an education. Everybody deserves to be educated. Do not hesitate. Just do what you've got to do. 

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Don't be afraid to take the next step. I had been out of school for eleven years and had never stepped foot inside a public school. I was nervous. Once I took that step, I found out it was the best one I had ever taken. 

Tiffany

I had gone through a very difficult time in my life. I knew that my children and I needed a better life and that a higher education was going to provide that.

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My children are my biggest motivation and my family is a huge support. Without my parents, I don't think I could get through school. 

Don't be afraid to take the next step. I had been out of school for eleven years and had never stepped foot inside a public school. I was nervous. Once I took that step, I found out it was the best one I had ever taken. 

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That was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. I have the ability to give back because of the education I have received. 

Sommer

I joined the Navy because I was too scared to go to college.

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When I got out, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in psychology. 

That was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. I have the ability to give back because of the education I have received. 

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If you're considering going back to school, I have one thing to say: 'Why not?'

Jake

I was worried about coming back to school.

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I came anyways because I knew it wouldn't hurt to further my education. 

If you're considering going back to school, I have one thing to say: 'Why not?'

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I told myself 'I have to make it through, overcome, accomplish and then come home and go back to school." 

Azael

I always had a dream of going to college.

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I decided to join the Army after getting terrible grades my first semester. 

I told myself 'I have to make it through, overcome, accomplish and then come home and go back to school." 

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Going back to school is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

Scott

After being honorably discharged in 2014, I began to look for work and I was having a tough time.

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I knew with the economy the way it is, I would get a better job with an education than without one. 

Going back to school is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

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If you’re down on your luck and you are having trouble figuring out what to do with yourself, go to a community college. They’ll help you figure it out. 

Charles

After I left the army, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

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I was living off my savings and I was lost, so I decided to go back to a community college. 

If you’re down on your luck and you are having trouble figuring out what to do with yourself, go to a community college. They’ll help you figure it out. 

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- being in the classroom with people who were as exhausted as I was and were experiencing a lot of the same challenges. Just encouraging each other and not feeling alone. I feel so accomplished being able to say that I completed four years of college. 

Courtney

It was really difficult for me to balance real life and school...

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What kept me going was being in a dorm with people who were doing the same thing 

- being in the classroom with people who were as exhausted as I was and were experiencing a lot of the same challenges. Just encouraging each other and not feeling alone. I feel so accomplished being able to say that I completed four years of college. 

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That’s a big push – maybe if I do this, there are so many girls younger than me who could say ‘If she can do it, I don’t know why I couldn’t do that.’ That’s pretty cool. 

Lea

I was the only girl in my kindergarten class

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And I will be one of the first traditional female students to complete the heating and cooling program. 

That’s a big push – maybe if I do this, there are so many girls younger than me who could say ‘If she can do it, I don’t know why I couldn’t do that.’ That’s pretty cool. 

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It’s been a positive experience getting to meet and talk to so many new people.

Kolin

Education will definitely boost your communication skills.

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It’s been a positive experience getting to meet and talk to so many new people.

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Students might find it intimidating to come to college but its really not. Everybody is here to help you out in case you need it. There's no such thing as too much education - you can always improve in life. Hopefully you do! 

Jamar

There’s no such thing as too much education.

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I’ve always wanted to go to college but I kept procrastinating. My wife gave me the encouragement to go back.

Students might find it intimidating to come to college but its really not. Everybody is here to help you out in case you need it. There's no such thing as too much education - you can always improve in life. Hopefully you do! 

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I would encourage anyone that is struggling in school or doesn't think that they can do it - it's important that you realize that if you had a bad grade or a bad semester, that next semester you can do better and let it drive you to achieve A's and B's. It is a matter of attitude, whether you want to let that sit with you and kill all your momentum or you can let it drive you into the future to obtain your goals. 

Graham

I'm a marine core veteran and I did two combat tours through Afghanistan.

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When I got out, I decided that I wanted to go to college. 

I would encourage anyone that is struggling in school or doesn't think that they can do it - it's important that you realize that if you had a bad grade or a bad semester, that next semester you can do better and let it drive you to achieve A's and B's. It is a matter of attitude, whether you want to let that sit with you and kill all your momentum or you can let it drive you into the future to obtain your goals. 

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She looked me dead in the eye and said "don't you give up, you've got to have confidence." 

In the beginning, I wanted to give up and I did not have any confidence. Now I do. I have met so many inspiring professors, counselors, and also admin faculty at Pellissippi State. I'm so glad I did it! If you are thinking about giving up on college, please don't. Don't give up! 

Stephanie

There was one low-point in my college experience, so I went to the counseling center on campus.

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There, I met this very inspiring counselor and I told her that I didn't have enough confidence and I just wanted to give up. 

She looked me dead in the eye and said "don't you give up, you've got to have confidence." 

In the beginning, I wanted to give up and I did not have any confidence. Now I do. I have met so many inspiring professors, counselors, and also admin faculty at Pellissippi State. I'm so glad I did it! If you are thinking about giving up on college, please don't. Don't give up! 

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I made good grades in high school but I wasn't a stellar student. It actually got better as I got to college. My focus got a little more intense and I realized the importance of going to college and how much it was going to help me once I got out. College makes you grow up. You have to learn to interact with so many different kinds of people.  It's easy to get frustrated and to want to give up and I understand that because I was in that boat. But you've got to stay the course and be diligent and see it through.  Anything that is worth while in life is going to be kind of tough but I think anybody can do it; you can find that balance.

Kip

Alot of people struggle with not knowing what they're going to do. I was one of those people.

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I wasn't sure if college was for me. At the end of the day, I knew how important it was for me to go.

I made good grades in high school but I wasn't a stellar student. It actually got better as I got to college. My focus got a little more intense and I realized the importance of going to college and how much it was going to help me once I got out. College makes you grow up. You have to learn to interact with so many different kinds of people.  It's easy to get frustrated and to want to give up and I understand that because I was in that boat. But you've got to stay the course and be diligent and see it through.  Anything that is worth while in life is going to be kind of tough but I think anybody can do it; you can find that balance.

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The process of getting that degree has helped me a ton. Whether it was the business sense, networking, or the social circles that you create, it all lasts way beyond college and that is super crucial.

Florida Georgia Line

Do what you love. Thank God for college and our path that we took.

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I felt like once I started college, I had to finish it. Nobody's going to get through it for me.

The process of getting that degree has helped me a ton. Whether it was the business sense, networking, or the social circles that you create, it all lasts way beyond college and that is super crucial.

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Right now, my wife is in school learning pyschology and we're about the same age but she's back in school because she wants to help people. I think that's really cool. If you've got a chance to go back to school, you can never learn too much. College is great and important for the school but it's also important for all the other things that you learn outside of the schooling. You've got to learn how to be an adult.

Darius

You can never learn too much.

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If you have the time, especially now with so many great community colleges, go learn something.

Right now, my wife is in school learning pyschology and we're about the same age but she's back in school because she wants to help people. I think that's really cool. If you've got a chance to go back to school, you can never learn too much. College is great and important for the school but it's also important for all the other things that you learn outside of the schooling. You've got to learn how to be an adult.

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Atleast getting away from my family and having the experience of living on my own, even though you're in college, atleast it gave me a little bit of preparation for really being out in the world.

Sheryl

That love of learning will serve you more than anything else.

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I'm from a really small town and I had never seen anything.

Atleast getting away from my family and having the experience of living on my own, even though you're in college, atleast it gave me a little bit of preparation for really being out in the world.

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Graduating college opened an interesting door for me. It created an opportunity for me to work my day job at an environmental lab and what that did was give me an income to pay rent and also an income to invest in my musical career. Without that, I don’t know if I’d be here.
It’s like I always say, you’re not going to shut a door- it’ sonly going to open doors for you, it’s not going to hurt you in any way – so stay after it.

Dustin

College means a new set of faces, a new set of challenges.

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It truly was a challenge to make it all work but I think the fact that I found out a way to make it work is what helping me get through these crazy days and this crazy lifestyle

Graduating college opened an interesting door for me. It created an opportunity for me to work my day job at an environmental lab and what that did was give me an income to pay rent and also an income to invest in my musical career. Without that, I don’t know if I’d be here.
It’s like I always say, you’re not going to shut a door- it’ sonly going to open doors for you, it’s not going to hurt you in any way – so stay after it.

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Hazard offered many great programs that would be a good fit for Archie, but the lineman program spoke to him the most.

“I had to drive 2 hours each way for eight and a half weeks but the program was well worth it because I have quadrupled my income.”

While the program was tough and long, he had a great experience at the college all the way from interactions with the president to his instructors and advisors.  He says that, “…if we needed something or had to take the day off, they would work with us to make up for time lost.”

Archie mentions that, “For some people it’s hard to start a new career and change their whole life, but a man has to do what he has to do and take care of his family.”

Since finishing the program, Archie was offered a job and is now able to support his family. He credits the program for allowing him to start a career at a higher level.

“You get a better pay rate, more benefits, and can get a raise quicker,” says Archie.

After his eight and a half week program, Archie was employed and his pay was quadrupled.

“Everything’s going great,” says Archie.

Archie

I’m the type of person to stay nervous about everything and going back to school seemed like the hardest thing for me to be able to do.

quote

After seven years of reporting to work as a coal miner, Archie was sent home with a layoff notice.  For thirteen months he was laid off and went through numerous hardships. “Food stamps can’t provide for a family,” says Archie. Once he realized that unemployment benefits would soon run out, he checked out Hazard Community and Technical College.

Hazard offered many great programs that would be a good fit for Archie, but the lineman program spoke to him the most.

“I had to drive 2 hours each way for eight and a half weeks but the program was well worth it because I have quadrupled my income.”

While the program was tough and long, he had a great experience at the college all the way from interactions with the president to his instructors and advisors.  He says that, “…if we needed something or had to take the day off, they would work with us to make up for time lost.”

Archie mentions that, “For some people it’s hard to start a new career and change their whole life, but a man has to do what he has to do and take care of his family.”

Since finishing the program, Archie was offered a job and is now able to support his family. He credits the program for allowing him to start a career at a higher level.

“You get a better pay rate, more benefits, and can get a raise quicker,” says Archie.

After his eight and a half week program, Archie was employed and his pay was quadrupled.

“Everything’s going great,” says Archie.

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Straight out of high school, Larry, “Wanted to have a little bit of money” and figured that going straight into mining was his best option. After working in the coal mines for 27 years, he was laid off.

“During that time I recollected how I had told my grandfather that I would go to college,” says Larry.  He saw the layoff as an opportunity that he needed to take and being laid off was the perfect time to choose it.

In his mid-thirties, he started taking classes.  He applied for the radiography program at Hazard County Technical College in Kentucky and was accepted. He graduated less than three years later.

Not only did he fulfill his promise to his grandfather by graduating college, but he had completed a tremendous goal.

“After graduation I’ve seen how education has played such a big role; I could have possibly gone back into coal mines, but I chose to try and go to college to see if I could pursue that dream. I was successful through determination and the motivation to want to succeed,” says Larry.

Although Larry mentions that there were a lot of days where he spent extra time studying, he was motivated by wanting to do well for his family and provide a future for them.

Larry believes that, “Through education and completing this program, I now have a job that provides me with opportunities for future employment as well as retirement if I do choose that path.”

Larry has been working in his field for a little over 14 years, which is almost as long as he worked in the coal mines.

He has faith for those wanting to go to school by stating, “You can succeed through education and with hard work and determination – you have to really want to do it – and if you do, there are avenues for you to take and get through that.” 

Larry

My grandfather was a coal miner for 36 years but did not want me to follow in his footsteps.

quote

After graduating high school in 1980, Larry discussed extensively with his grandparents about his plans for furthering his education.  He decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps in the coal mining industry, but promised his grandfather that he would one day attend college.

Straight out of high school, Larry, “Wanted to have a little bit of money” and figured that going straight into mining was his best option. After working in the coal mines for 27 years, he was laid off.

“During that time I recollected how I had told my grandfather that I would go to college,” says Larry.  He saw the layoff as an opportunity that he needed to take and being laid off was the perfect time to choose it.

In his mid-thirties, he started taking classes.  He applied for the radiography program at Hazard County Technical College in Kentucky and was accepted. He graduated less than three years later.

Not only did he fulfill his promise to his grandfather by graduating college, but he had completed a tremendous goal.

“After graduation I’ve seen how education has played such a big role; I could have possibly gone back into coal mines, but I chose to try and go to college to see if I could pursue that dream. I was successful through determination and the motivation to want to succeed,” says Larry.

Although Larry mentions that there were a lot of days where he spent extra time studying, he was motivated by wanting to do well for his family and provide a future for them.

Larry believes that, “Through education and completing this program, I now have a job that provides me with opportunities for future employment as well as retirement if I do choose that path.”

Larry has been working in his field for a little over 14 years, which is almost as long as he worked in the coal mines.

He has faith for those wanting to go to school by stating, “You can succeed through education and with hard work and determination – you have to really want to do it – and if you do, there are avenues for you to take and get through that.” 

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“I thought to myself, well, we’re [coal miners he worked alongside] going to have to have a new kind of job – in order to feed my family. I really didn’t have a career path.”

After the layoff, Thomas and his wife decided that he needed to look into taking classes at Hazard Community and Technical College.

He remembers talking to an advisor who worked with veterans like himself.  The advisor helped Thomas with classes and getting his GI Bill started.

“Spring semester came around and being 38-years-old and being out of the loop for 20 years, it was a little bit hard to adjust because I was competing against 18 year old kids who were right out of high school. I had to re-learn some of this stuff and learn what they were teaching,” said Larry.

At first, Larry tried the nursing program, but he was not accepted. Instead of letting this get him down, he continued his journey towards completion. While in school, Larry was offered a job in the social security administration, which he accepted.

After graduation, he plans on attending Kentucky State University to get his bachelor’s degree in public administration, which will help him move up the management ladder at the Social Security Board. 

“If you have any concerns or comments or want to make a life change, HCTC is here to help; from the advisors all the way to the people that help you at the front desk.  No matter what your question is, they’ll be more than willing to help you,” says Larry. 

Thomas

Being 38-years-old and being out of the loop for 20 years, it was a hard to adjust because I was competing against 18-year-old kids who were right out of high school.

quote

 As a fourth generation coal miner, Thomas was in the military for 10 years before working.  After 7 years of work, he was laid off.

“My wife and I didn’t know what we were going to do at the time.”

“I thought to myself, well, we’re [coal miners he worked alongside] going to have to have a new kind of job – in order to feed my family. I really didn’t have a career path.”

After the layoff, Thomas and his wife decided that he needed to look into taking classes at Hazard Community and Technical College.

He remembers talking to an advisor who worked with veterans like himself.  The advisor helped Thomas with classes and getting his GI Bill started.

“Spring semester came around and being 38-years-old and being out of the loop for 20 years, it was a little bit hard to adjust because I was competing against 18 year old kids who were right out of high school. I had to re-learn some of this stuff and learn what they were teaching,” said Larry.

At first, Larry tried the nursing program, but he was not accepted. Instead of letting this get him down, he continued his journey towards completion. While in school, Larry was offered a job in the social security administration, which he accepted.

After graduation, he plans on attending Kentucky State University to get his bachelor’s degree in public administration, which will help him move up the management ladder at the Social Security Board. 

“If you have any concerns or comments or want to make a life change, HCTC is here to help; from the advisors all the way to the people that help you at the front desk.  No matter what your question is, they’ll be more than willing to help you,” says Larry. 

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After looking at jobs in the area, she soon realized she needed specialized training and an education to get a good job in order to provide a stable life for her family. 

She reached out to Southwest Community College in Cedar Bluff, VA where the staff helped her get started by understanding what to do to get started in classes again. 

After starting out with a lot of self-doubt and insecurity as an older student, Lisa is now studying paraoptometry.  With help from SWCC, she discovered that she could be a successful student and that she was able to reach her goals.

With these realizations, her goals have continued to grow.

Lisa plans to further her education with an Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Psychology.  She eventually wants to help battered women and their children.

Lisa says, “Go for it!” to anyone considering going back to school.

“Each day we are given is an opportunity to learn, and you can use life experience in combination with education to reach for the stars, no matter what your age is,” says Lisa.

Lisa

I didn’t think college was the place for me. I thought it was for a traditional high school student coming out of graduation.

quote

Lisa was married right after graduating high school and immediately went into the workforce working for her family business. After 23 years, the business had to close due to the economy.  After working for another local company, that company was sold and she was left unemployed once again. One of Lisa’s daughters encouraged her to go to college, but she believed it was only for “younger folks.”

After looking at jobs in the area, she soon realized she needed specialized training and an education to get a good job in order to provide a stable life for her family. 

She reached out to Southwest Community College in Cedar Bluff, VA where the staff helped her get started by understanding what to do to get started in classes again. 

After starting out with a lot of self-doubt and insecurity as an older student, Lisa is now studying paraoptometry.  With help from SWCC, she discovered that she could be a successful student and that she was able to reach her goals.

With these realizations, her goals have continued to grow.

Lisa plans to further her education with an Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Psychology.  She eventually wants to help battered women and their children.

Lisa says, “Go for it!” to anyone considering going back to school.

“Each day we are given is an opportunity to learn, and you can use life experience in combination with education to reach for the stars, no matter what your age is,” says Lisa.

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Two years after that, he decided to have a fresh start for his family and he went into the logging industry where he stayed for about 11 years. Unfortunately, he was severely injured and placed back on disability status. Tim knew he had to find another way to provide for his family.

As a result of facing physical injuries, he decided to work with his most powerful muscle, his brain, more.  

He soon attended Southwest Virginia Community College in Cedar Bluff, VA where he received his Associate’s degree in Education, and then continued on to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Counseling with Old Dominion University’s (ODU) satellite location at SWCC.

Soon time realized what success he had found through education.  He went on to get a Master of Education in Special Education and a teaching certificate through ODU.

Tim fell in love with working with children and adults that have physical and mental challenges.

Education allowed Tim to get off disability and do work to help others and make a difference in his own community.

Tim’s believes that the best thing for anyone out of the workforce that is considering what to do with their life is to, “…find a dream and hold on to it; get some skills training and education at the college and it will open doors you never knew existed.”

Tim

I was placed on disability twice and it was after the second injury that I decided that I was going to have to go in a different direction – so I signed up for classes.

quote

Tim is originally from the far southwest corner of Virginia. After graduating high school, time began working the coal industry, where he stayed for 13 years.  The manual labor resulted in multiple back surgeries and was Tim was declared disabled. 

Two years after that, he decided to have a fresh start for his family and he went into the logging industry where he stayed for about 11 years. Unfortunately, he was severely injured and placed back on disability status. Tim knew he had to find another way to provide for his family.

As a result of facing physical injuries, he decided to work with his most powerful muscle, his brain, more.  

He soon attended Southwest Virginia Community College in Cedar Bluff, VA where he received his Associate’s degree in Education, and then continued on to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Counseling with Old Dominion University’s (ODU) satellite location at SWCC.

Soon time realized what success he had found through education.  He went on to get a Master of Education in Special Education and a teaching certificate through ODU.

Tim fell in love with working with children and adults that have physical and mental challenges.

Education allowed Tim to get off disability and do work to help others and make a difference in his own community.

Tim’s believes that the best thing for anyone out of the workforce that is considering what to do with their life is to, “…find a dream and hold on to it; get some skills training and education at the college and it will open doors you never knew existed.”

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“I felt like my college career from there was gone. All those dreams of being able to go to college were gone.”

While raising her child, she got married, had another baby, went through a divorce, and was a single mother for almost three years. She worked a job by herself and struggled to make it.

“Somebody asked me about going to college and I said no, I have a job and I have kids and I don’t want to go,” Crystal said.

Several years later, she up getting remarried, moving into a different position than where she was at the time. The supervisor left at her company left and she realized that if she had a college degree, she would have been able to fill that position.

Through lots of thoughts and prayers and talking it over with her husband, they decided it would be a good idea for Crystal to go back to school.

“It had been 14 years from the time I went from high school before I started college and I was nervous I didn’t think I could do it but I had lost of encouragement from him and it helped.”

Crystal says that getting an education has helped her family financially and helped her to see a  bigger picture of the world.

“As working and being a mom and getting so tied up in the everyday things, you overlook all the actual things that are going on in the world.”

According to Crystal, getting has education has changed everything.  “It has changed my goals; it’s changed my outlook on everything.”

“You can do it, you can do it. I did it, others have done it and you can do it – you just have to believe in yourself,” says Crystal.

Crystal

It had been 14 years from the time I went from high school before I started college.

quote

Crystal had always planned to go to college after graduating high school, however, life had other plans.  Her senior year of high school, Crystal found out she was pregnant. She realized that instead of attending college, she had to get a job and take care of her baby. 

“I felt like my college career from there was gone. All those dreams of being able to go to college were gone.”

While raising her child, she got married, had another baby, went through a divorce, and was a single mother for almost three years. She worked a job by herself and struggled to make it.

“Somebody asked me about going to college and I said no, I have a job and I have kids and I don’t want to go,” Crystal said.

Several years later, she up getting remarried, moving into a different position than where she was at the time. The supervisor left at her company left and she realized that if she had a college degree, she would have been able to fill that position.

Through lots of thoughts and prayers and talking it over with her husband, they decided it would be a good idea for Crystal to go back to school.

“It had been 14 years from the time I went from high school before I started college and I was nervous I didn’t think I could do it but I had lost of encouragement from him and it helped.”

Crystal says that getting an education has helped her family financially and helped her to see a  bigger picture of the world.

“As working and being a mom and getting so tied up in the everyday things, you overlook all the actual things that are going on in the world.”

According to Crystal, getting has education has changed everything.  “It has changed my goals; it’s changed my outlook on everything.”

“You can do it, you can do it. I did it, others have done it and you can do it – you just have to believe in yourself,” says Crystal.

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At 22, she got married. After 13 years of marriage, she realized that she wanted to go to college, however her controlling husband wouldn’t allow her to achieve her dreams.

It took her four years to get where she is today. She mentions that it took her that long to, “build up the self-confidence, to start all over again, and to move on with my life and make my life better.”

After the encouragement of friends and family, she enrolled in college and began her education.

I decided that it’s something I wanted to do, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Sherry loves her courses and her teachers are very encouraging.

“They give me a lot of confidence in myself and it’s actually shown my family and friends how much confidence that I’ve built up in myself; they can see a lot of difference in me.”

Sherry believes, “It’s never too late to start college or expand your education.”

Her mother is one of her inspirations because she went back to college when she was 55 and received her degree in early education and became a teacher.“If she can do it at 55, I can do it at 39, right?” says Sherry.

Sherry tells everyone she comes across that, “it takes that one step and once you get past that first step, then the rest of it, it just falls in line.  You will be so proud and it’s a feeling I can’t describe.”

“I wish everyone would do it. That everyone would take that step.”

Sherry

It took a lot of courage build up the self-confidence, to start all over again, and to move on with my life and make my life better.

quote

Sherry had planned to go to college on a scholarship but instead, she had to stay home and help support her family after her father was hurt in an accident at work. Sherry was working three jobs at one point during her life to make ends meet for her family.

At 22, she got married. After 13 years of marriage, she realized that she wanted to go to college, however her controlling husband wouldn’t allow her to achieve her dreams.

It took her four years to get where she is today. She mentions that it took her that long to, “build up the self-confidence, to start all over again, and to move on with my life and make my life better.”

After the encouragement of friends and family, she enrolled in college and began her education.

I decided that it’s something I wanted to do, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Sherry loves her courses and her teachers are very encouraging.

“They give me a lot of confidence in myself and it’s actually shown my family and friends how much confidence that I’ve built up in myself; they can see a lot of difference in me.”

Sherry believes, “It’s never too late to start college or expand your education.”

Her mother is one of her inspirations because she went back to college when she was 55 and received her degree in early education and became a teacher.“If she can do it at 55, I can do it at 39, right?” says Sherry.

Sherry tells everyone she comes across that, “it takes that one step and once you get past that first step, then the rest of it, it just falls in line.  You will be so proud and it’s a feeling I can’t describe.”

“I wish everyone would do it. That everyone would take that step.”

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Instead of graduting, he decided to try a career as a bench technician, however after the silicon boom in the mid 1980’s, he soon realized that there weren’t many jobs available in that field.

Don ended up moving with his wife and became invested in the culinary industry where he was a chef for 20 years. During that time, he became addicted to meth and slowly began to decline. Due to his drug use, he and his wife divorced.

After a full recovery, Don has now been sober for 13 years. He found his way into recovering and met his current wife who was finishing up her associate’s degree in nursing at Cleveland State. His wife always talked with him about going back to school, but he never made a solid move.

For his tenth anniversary of sobriety, she paid for his application fee and told him it was time to start school and to stop talking about it. Don was soon accepted into college and had classes lined up.

Two years down the road, and Don is happy to be able to say that his parents will get to see their son graduate with honors and as an officer in an honor society.

Don takes classes with his daughter who is a traditional student who will graduate a year after he does.

“I’m a high school dropout, recovering drug addict, and everything that that entails and if I can succeed and thrive – anybody can,” says Don.

Don

I'm a high school dropout and a recovering drug addict.

quote

After not graduating high school and becoming involved with drugs, Don realized that an education is what was most crucial for him to get his life back on track.

Instead of graduting, he decided to try a career as a bench technician, however after the silicon boom in the mid 1980’s, he soon realized that there weren’t many jobs available in that field.

Don ended up moving with his wife and became invested in the culinary industry where he was a chef for 20 years. During that time, he became addicted to meth and slowly began to decline. Due to his drug use, he and his wife divorced.

After a full recovery, Don has now been sober for 13 years. He found his way into recovering and met his current wife who was finishing up her associate’s degree in nursing at Cleveland State. His wife always talked with him about going back to school, but he never made a solid move.

For his tenth anniversary of sobriety, she paid for his application fee and told him it was time to start school and to stop talking about it. Don was soon accepted into college and had classes lined up.

Two years down the road, and Don is happy to be able to say that his parents will get to see their son graduate with honors and as an officer in an honor society.

Don takes classes with his daughter who is a traditional student who will graduate a year after he does.

“I’m a high school dropout, recovering drug addict, and everything that that entails and if I can succeed and thrive – anybody can,” says Don.

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Stas is now a software engineering major.

Even through adversity, Stas has learned to overcome his obstacles. He loves what he is doing and says that that keeps him motivated, “ I really like what I’m doing. There are a lot of employment opportunities in my field of study.”

Upon graduation, he plans to work with experienced developers in the area and learn as much as he can from them.

Stas to those considering school, “Set yourself a goal, keep focused, and everything will work out for you.”

Stas

I was enrolled in a university in Minsk, Belarus, but when my mother met a West Virginian, I needed to move to America to finish my studies.

quote

Stas had to earn and save his money for his education at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.  He did so through working in an environmental services company for a year before fulfilling his duties as a student.

Stas is now a software engineering major.

Even through adversity, Stas has learned to overcome his obstacles. He loves what he is doing and says that that keeps him motivated, “ I really like what I’m doing. There are a lot of employment opportunities in my field of study.”

Upon graduation, he plans to work with experienced developers in the area and learn as much as he can from them.

Stas to those considering school, “Set yourself a goal, keep focused, and everything will work out for you.”

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“For me, growing a garden and being part of the earth and vegetables and fruit is something I was raised on and I’ve passed that down to my family. Farming and getting connected with the earth is something I enjoy therefore the Diversified Agriculture program here at WVUP offers that for me,” says Diana.

What keeps Diana motivated? Her family and the faculty and teachers at WVUP.  Diana goes to school and knows she will succeed.

“I have a team of support members that will help and nurture us.  I haven’t met a faculty member yet that wouldn’t offer their services and help us succeed,” says Diana.

Diana plans to open her own greenhouse business upon graduation and has full faith in fulfilling her dreams.

She is also a firm believer in going to school, no matter the age.

“I have heard other older people say they’d really like to go to college or that they should wish they did, but they’re too old now. I’d say get that out of your mind, take that step and achieve those goals because you will be able to achieve them,” says Diana. 

Diana

I’m considered non-traditional because I’m not right out of high school.

quote

Diana is from Ritchie County, West Virginia. She has four children. Growing up, Diana always had a special place in her heart for the earth and agriculture. It is her passion that has helped to lead her to where she is today in her studies at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

“For me, growing a garden and being part of the earth and vegetables and fruit is something I was raised on and I’ve passed that down to my family. Farming and getting connected with the earth is something I enjoy therefore the Diversified Agriculture program here at WVUP offers that for me,” says Diana.

What keeps Diana motivated? Her family and the faculty and teachers at WVUP.  Diana goes to school and knows she will succeed.

“I have a team of support members that will help and nurture us.  I haven’t met a faculty member yet that wouldn’t offer their services and help us succeed,” says Diana.

Diana plans to open her own greenhouse business upon graduation and has full faith in fulfilling her dreams.

She is also a firm believer in going to school, no matter the age.

“I have heard other older people say they’d really like to go to college or that they should wish they did, but they’re too old now. I’d say get that out of your mind, take that step and achieve those goals because you will be able to achieve them,” says Diana. 

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Angela had two daughters who hadn’t started school yet when she realized that West Virginia University at Parkersburg offered a lot of online classes. She enrolled into the business program because she knew she wanted to be able to give her kids a better life.

I had to find my passion. I like to build things, I like to make things and my passion lies in the trades.

Angela will graduate with degree certificates in Energy Assessment and Management Technology, Residential and Commercial Electricity, and HVAC. She will also have two more associates in Solar Energy Technology and Energy Assessment Management Technology.

Angela

I’m a mom – and a college student.

quote

Angela was her my parent’s 6th daughter and she states that growing up in a single parent home, the “. . only thing we had a lot of was sisters.”

Angela had two daughters who hadn’t started school yet when she realized that West Virginia University at Parkersburg offered a lot of online classes. She enrolled into the business program because she knew she wanted to be able to give her kids a better life.

I had to find my passion. I like to build things, I like to make things and my passion lies in the trades.

Angela will graduate with degree certificates in Energy Assessment and Management Technology, Residential and Commercial Electricity, and HVAC. She will also have two more associates in Solar Energy Technology and Energy Assessment Management Technology.

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“I had just graduated high school and didn’t have a job at the time. I had talked to some friends and they asked if I had thought about college,” said Brandon.

Once Brandon entered the labs for the task and performance evaluations, that shy streak soon disappeared. As soon as the work became hands-on, Brandon quickly stepped up to tackle any task at a moment’s notice.

“I’m just a country boy from Jackson County, West Virginia,” says Brandon.

Due to the remote location of their home, Brandon’s family doesn’t have access to the internet. His advisor and teachers didn’t want to put any additional burden on him and therefore allowed him to submit his homework and papers by paper, rather than using the school’s web-based learning system.  He was eventually was able to begin to submit his work electronically.

Brandon has developed an extensive resume and as a result, has been offered an internship with a piping company. Brandon has his parents to thank for pushing him to succeed, ““From when I was just a kid, my parents always taught me hard work.”

Brandon is a firm believer in going to college, no matter your circumstances.  “I would say anyone thinking about college, definitely go for it – it’s benefited me a ton. The instructors at WVUP genuinely care; they want to see you succeed.”

Brandon

Definitely go for it.

quote

Brandon was home-schooled in rural Jackson County and was very shy at first.  While reluctant to speak up very often, he showed a great deal of potential for leadership. When Brandon was only 16 years old, he met with advisors at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

“I had just graduated high school and didn’t have a job at the time. I had talked to some friends and they asked if I had thought about college,” said Brandon.

Once Brandon entered the labs for the task and performance evaluations, that shy streak soon disappeared. As soon as the work became hands-on, Brandon quickly stepped up to tackle any task at a moment’s notice.

“I’m just a country boy from Jackson County, West Virginia,” says Brandon.

Due to the remote location of their home, Brandon’s family doesn’t have access to the internet. His advisor and teachers didn’t want to put any additional burden on him and therefore allowed him to submit his homework and papers by paper, rather than using the school’s web-based learning system.  He was eventually was able to begin to submit his work electronically.

Brandon has developed an extensive resume and as a result, has been offered an internship with a piping company. Brandon has his parents to thank for pushing him to succeed, ““From when I was just a kid, my parents always taught me hard work.”

Brandon is a firm believer in going to college, no matter your circumstances.  “I would say anyone thinking about college, definitely go for it – it’s benefited me a ton. The instructors at WVUP genuinely care; they want to see you succeed.”

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A native of Southern West Virginia, Jacob was homeschooled with six other siblings. It was in fact by chance, not a determined effort, that led him to Garrett College, but once Jacob attended college, he immediately felt empowered by his situation.

Jacob is now almost finished with his degree in business management and will soon graduate in May of 2015 from Garrett College.  His business education has helped him with every facet of his life and has helped him with any sort of avenue, his creative side, business side and his financial side. It was also one of the programs offered through the West Virginia Reciprocity Agreement with Garrett College, which has made it possible for him to financially go to college.

After graduation, Jacob plans to start a nonprofit life skills training organization in southern West Virginia with his brother.

Jacob admits to being super intimidated and scared of the idea of going to school.  He admits that some of the obstacles he faced in going to school would be self-doubt and the lack of courage in his own abilities.

“I didn’t feel like I was the typical students; I didn’t feel like I had enough pre-requisite knowledge to jump into college.”

Building that over time, Garrett College has helped to foster that within him and the college didn’t put anything on his shoulders that made him feel small. The advising center helped him to figure out the overall terminologies. The tutoring center gave him the confidence to teach others what he knows. He says there honestly hasn’t been a single department in the college that hasn’t helped him get where he is now.

Jacob

I didn’t think was college material. I didn’t think I had a shot at college.

quote

Along with not knowing if college was for him and due to the recession, Jacob was laid off as a lineman after the company he worked for had gone under. He knew what he had to do and through research and patience, he was accepted into college. He always wanted to it, but never thought he could.

A native of Southern West Virginia, Jacob was homeschooled with six other siblings. It was in fact by chance, not a determined effort, that led him to Garrett College, but once Jacob attended college, he immediately felt empowered by his situation.

Jacob is now almost finished with his degree in business management and will soon graduate in May of 2015 from Garrett College.  His business education has helped him with every facet of his life and has helped him with any sort of avenue, his creative side, business side and his financial side. It was also one of the programs offered through the West Virginia Reciprocity Agreement with Garrett College, which has made it possible for him to financially go to college.

After graduation, Jacob plans to start a nonprofit life skills training organization in southern West Virginia with his brother.

Jacob admits to being super intimidated and scared of the idea of going to school.  He admits that some of the obstacles he faced in going to school would be self-doubt and the lack of courage in his own abilities.

“I didn’t feel like I was the typical students; I didn’t feel like I had enough pre-requisite knowledge to jump into college.”

Building that over time, Garrett College has helped to foster that within him and the college didn’t put anything on his shoulders that made him feel small. The advising center helped him to figure out the overall terminologies. The tutoring center gave him the confidence to teach others what he knows. He says there honestly hasn’t been a single department in the college that hasn’t helped him get where he is now.

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After a period of being a medical lab scientist, she soon realized that she wasn’t making the money she had hoped for and was working longer hours than before, including the night shift.

Angelina then knew she needed to do something better with her life once again. She turned her life around and decided that Garrett County Community College was a great option.  With her love for arts and computers, she started in the web and graphic design field at Garrett.  Her classes and hard work soon led to an amazing internship experience relating to her field of study. 

Angelina has several offers on graphic design work before graduating in the summer of 2015.  She has started her own business, Alpha Designs, where she does specialty paintings, graphic design, web design, logos, and more.

Angelina believes that everyone should, “Always follow your heart, no matter what.”

Through scholarships and other programs through Garrett College, she has been able to find what works best for her. The financial aid office has been a huge help. Angelina always owes a lot of thanks to her biggest supporter, her grandmother, who has pushed her along the entire way.

Although Angelina has struggled as a single mother, there are countless programs that have helped her with daycare.

Angelina

Opportunities have been arising and life has just taken off.

quote

Angelina has lived in Garrett County, Maryland her whole life. Fresh out of high school, Angelina out on her own and couldn’t find time or money to go to college.  After starting her own cleaning business and four years of working, she was blessed with a baby boy. She realized she couldn’t continue what she was doing: working long hours with an intensive job. “I decided to go back to school so that my son could have a better future,” says Angelina.

After a period of being a medical lab scientist, she soon realized that she wasn’t making the money she had hoped for and was working longer hours than before, including the night shift.

Angelina then knew she needed to do something better with her life once again. She turned her life around and decided that Garrett County Community College was a great option.  With her love for arts and computers, she started in the web and graphic design field at Garrett.  Her classes and hard work soon led to an amazing internship experience relating to her field of study. 

Angelina has several offers on graphic design work before graduating in the summer of 2015.  She has started her own business, Alpha Designs, where she does specialty paintings, graphic design, web design, logos, and more.

Angelina believes that everyone should, “Always follow your heart, no matter what.”

Through scholarships and other programs through Garrett College, she has been able to find what works best for her. The financial aid office has been a huge help. Angelina always owes a lot of thanks to her biggest supporter, her grandmother, who has pushed her along the entire way.

Although Angelina has struggled as a single mother, there are countless programs that have helped her with daycare.

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After high school, Amy went into the army hoping to save some money for college. Her plan didn’t work out due to medical reasons, so she and her husband returned to Garrett County, Maryland to raise a family. With previous work as a medical lab specialist in the army under her belt, doors were opened and she was hired at the local hospital.  Her boss at the time encouraged her to take the medical coding classes at Garrett College.

At the time, she was working full-time, raising a family.  “Garrett College offered evening classes for medical coding, which made it really easy to go back to school and work at the same time,” said Angie.

While taking the medical coding classes, she was able to receive two certifications, a certified coding associate and a certified coding specialist. 

She used Garrett College as a stepping stone, and she started a position at the hospital as an inpatient and outpatient surgery coder. Her boss continued to encourage her to go back to school and to never stop learning and getting an education.

After Garrett College, she obtained her Associate Degree, followed by two additional certifications, a teaching certificate, and a bachelor’s degree in health care administration.

One of her biggest reasons for going back to school was to provide her family with the things she was never able to have growing up. 

“When I first started at Garrett College, I didn’t have the money to go back to college,” said Angie.  To tackle the obstacles, the flexible class scheduling at Garrett College and the funding resources helped her to achieve her goals.

Angie

It is possible to get an education.

quote

Angie believes that for non-traditional students like herself, there is always a way to go back to school and better yourself. She took several non-traditional methods, including home-courses, including her online bachelor’s degree. “Getting an education is attainable while working full-time and raising a family,” says Angie.

After high school, Amy went into the army hoping to save some money for college. Her plan didn’t work out due to medical reasons, so she and her husband returned to Garrett County, Maryland to raise a family. With previous work as a medical lab specialist in the army under her belt, doors were opened and she was hired at the local hospital.  Her boss at the time encouraged her to take the medical coding classes at Garrett College.

At the time, she was working full-time, raising a family.  “Garrett College offered evening classes for medical coding, which made it really easy to go back to school and work at the same time,” said Angie.

While taking the medical coding classes, she was able to receive two certifications, a certified coding associate and a certified coding specialist. 

She used Garrett College as a stepping stone, and she started a position at the hospital as an inpatient and outpatient surgery coder. Her boss continued to encourage her to go back to school and to never stop learning and getting an education.

After Garrett College, she obtained her Associate Degree, followed by two additional certifications, a teaching certificate, and a bachelor’s degree in health care administration.

One of her biggest reasons for going back to school was to provide her family with the things she was never able to have growing up. 

“When I first started at Garrett College, I didn’t have the money to go back to college,” said Angie.  To tackle the obstacles, the flexible class scheduling at Garrett College and the funding resources helped her to achieve her goals.

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"What a gift to graduate on my birthday. Actually, it's a gift to the entire family," said Selena, the daughter of Latino immigrants who barely spoke English when they moved to Walhalla from New York 17 years ago. (Her mother is from Mexico and her father is from El Salvador).  Being the first in her family to attend college is a big deal, she said. "They are so proud of me."

Selena

I am the first in my family to attend college.

quote

When Selena Valdizon celebrates her 20th birthday on July 29th, she will receive the best give ever when Tri-County Technical College President Ronnie L. Booth presents her with a college diploma during summer commencement.

"What a gift to graduate on my birthday. Actually, it's a gift to the entire family," said Selena, the daughter of Latino immigrants who barely spoke English when they moved to Walhalla from New York 17 years ago. (Her mother is from Mexico and her father is from El Salvador).  Being the first in her family to attend college is a big deal, she said. "They are so proud of me."

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Perhaps her greatest achievement, she says, is acquiring self confidence as a student, which she credits to the staff of Connect to College, a collaborative offering of the school districts and Tri-County.

Carly took full advantage of C2C’s many opportunities after finding the program in the summer of 2011. “I’ve grown,” said Carly, who admits she was on the wrong track.  “I chose the wrong crowd and made bad decisions. It was either change my life or end up constantly struggling and questioning my abilities,” she said

After a series of dead-end, part-time jobs, she took the advice of her uncle, an adjunct instructor at Tri-County, who urged her to apply to C2C and to move in with him and his wife. 

Things started to change. “It was always of dream of mine to go to college. It’s a way to get back on track and succeed,” says Carly.

"I’m grateful to the donors who didn’t know me but who cared enough to help to fund part of my tuition so I could complete my high school diploma,” said Carly, who, after a year of university transfer classes at Tri-County, is a Nursing student at Clemson University and was recently named to the Dean’s List.  She will graduate in December.

Carly

Who I was four years ago is not who I am today. I wanted to have a better life and make my family proud of me.

quote

Carly entered the Connect to College program as a 10th grade dropout.  Eighteen months later, she graduated with her high school diploma along with 44 semester hours of college credit and membership in Tri-County’s Alpha Zeta Beta honor society. 

Perhaps her greatest achievement, she says, is acquiring self confidence as a student, which she credits to the staff of Connect to College, a collaborative offering of the school districts and Tri-County.

Carly took full advantage of C2C’s many opportunities after finding the program in the summer of 2011. “I’ve grown,” said Carly, who admits she was on the wrong track.  “I chose the wrong crowd and made bad decisions. It was either change my life or end up constantly struggling and questioning my abilities,” she said

After a series of dead-end, part-time jobs, she took the advice of her uncle, an adjunct instructor at Tri-County, who urged her to apply to C2C and to move in with him and his wife. 

Things started to change. “It was always of dream of mine to go to college. It’s a way to get back on track and succeed,” says Carly.

"I’m grateful to the donors who didn’t know me but who cared enough to help to fund part of my tuition so I could complete my high school diploma,” said Carly, who, after a year of university transfer classes at Tri-County, is a Nursing student at Clemson University and was recently named to the Dean’s List.  She will graduate in December.

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“My Tri-County degrees and my Bosch training really helped me and gave me a well-rounded understanding of the equipment, the processes, and how it all works together.  Attending a college like Tri-County can open your eyes and help you figure out what you really want to do,” says Quin.

Quin

Starting out at a two year college was the right choice for me.

quote

A week after graduating with a double major, Quin was employed as a Production Technician at The Robert Bosch Corporation.  He says he owes it all to Tri-County and the Bosch Technical Scholars program. 

“My Tri-County degrees and my Bosch training really helped me and gave me a well-rounded understanding of the equipment, the processes, and how it all works together.  Attending a college like Tri-County can open your eyes and help you figure out what you really want to do,” says Quin.

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The road was rocky in the beginning for the self-described rebellious teen who gave birth at 15 to her daughter and then dropped out of high school. 

“I had no motivation or support. The easy decision was to not go back to school and repeat the 10th grade.” 

Intent on making a great life for her daughter, she began to formulate a plan that included education.  She found a Parenting Education and Family Literacy Program and began to attend GED prep classes and took advantage of onsite child care.

After passing the GED in 2008, she signed up for nurse aide classes at Tri-County and after completing the work experience program, she got her first job as a certified nurse aide.

“It felt amazing to reach these milestones in my education,” said Stormie, who entered Tri-County’s associate degree nursing program in 2010.  Since then she’s been on the dean’s list, president’s list and academic distinction lists and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa national honor society. 

 At 22, she’s embarking on a new career and new opportunities and looks forward securing a job as a registered nurse in a hospital.  

“Coming from where I was to where I am today, it’s like night and day,” she added.

Stormie has plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing after working for a while. She states, “I don’t want to stop here.  I know I have it in me.”

Stormie

Life will have its up and downs, but there are more ups than downs if you have an education.

quote

With the arrival of her daughter came a newfound determination.  “My daughter gave me super powers. I knew I needed a life change.  She was my reality check,” said Stormie.   Intent on making a great life for her daughter, she began to formulate a plan that included education.  

The road was rocky in the beginning for the self-described rebellious teen who gave birth at 15 to her daughter and then dropped out of high school. 

“I had no motivation or support. The easy decision was to not go back to school and repeat the 10th grade.” 

Intent on making a great life for her daughter, she began to formulate a plan that included education.  She found a Parenting Education and Family Literacy Program and began to attend GED prep classes and took advantage of onsite child care.

After passing the GED in 2008, she signed up for nurse aide classes at Tri-County and after completing the work experience program, she got her first job as a certified nurse aide.

“It felt amazing to reach these milestones in my education,” said Stormie, who entered Tri-County’s associate degree nursing program in 2010.  Since then she’s been on the dean’s list, president’s list and academic distinction lists and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa national honor society. 

 At 22, she’s embarking on a new career and new opportunities and looks forward securing a job as a registered nurse in a hospital.  

“Coming from where I was to where I am today, it’s like night and day,” she added.

Stormie has plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing after working for a while. She states, “I don’t want to stop here.  I know I have it in me.”

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Sidney never even considered Tri-County when he was a high school senior making decisions about college. “I didn’t want to go to college near my home,” so he headed to another choice where he received an associate degree in science.   He went on to another school where he planned to study communications. “I wanted to work in broadcast journalism but I discovered I’m not a writer,” he said. He came home after a year and began looking for work – and training for a career.

He says he appreciates the good academic and career advice he has gotten from instructors.  “They care about you and your grades,” he said of instructors/mentors Ron Talley and Shan Smith. “I work 10-hour days on third shift at Itron and I leave work and come to morning classes.   I’ve got the best GPA I’ve ever had because of instructors who make the material interesting and easy to understand.  I admire their wisdom and knowledge.  They’ve pushed me to succeed.” 

Sidney will graduate this summer, thanks to the 2014 David A. Harvey Memorial Scholarship he received last year.   Four IET students received $1,125 to assist with tuition and book expenses for summer 2015.  Scholarship recipients must have a 2.8 GPA or higher; must be an IET major; and all applicants must write a 300 – 500-word essay describing the reason they decided to major in IET and where they see themselves in five years.

Sidney will graduate this summer, thanks to a scholarship he received.  

“We’re pleased to acknowledge Tri-County’s innovation and success and hope this scholarship makes the journey to a career in manufacturing a little easier for deserving students,” said Jim Chrzan, vice president/publisher, Automation World.

“The scholarship is the reason I can graduate on time,” said Sidney.  

Sidney

Everything is a valuable experience.

quote

“Looking back, if I knew what I do now, Tri-County would have been my first choice,” said Sidney, who is now enrolled in the Industrial Electronics Technology program.  “I’d be 21, with a degree and working in a good job in industry. It should have been the route I took.  I just didn’t know what a Tri-County degree can do for me.”

Sidney never even considered Tri-County when he was a high school senior making decisions about college. “I didn’t want to go to college near my home,” so he headed to another choice where he received an associate degree in science.   He went on to another school where he planned to study communications. “I wanted to work in broadcast journalism but I discovered I’m not a writer,” he said. He came home after a year and began looking for work – and training for a career.

He says he appreciates the good academic and career advice he has gotten from instructors.  “They care about you and your grades,” he said of instructors/mentors Ron Talley and Shan Smith. “I work 10-hour days on third shift at Itron and I leave work and come to morning classes.   I’ve got the best GPA I’ve ever had because of instructors who make the material interesting and easy to understand.  I admire their wisdom and knowledge.  They’ve pushed me to succeed.” 

Sidney will graduate this summer, thanks to the 2014 David A. Harvey Memorial Scholarship he received last year.   Four IET students received $1,125 to assist with tuition and book expenses for summer 2015.  Scholarship recipients must have a 2.8 GPA or higher; must be an IET major; and all applicants must write a 300 – 500-word essay describing the reason they decided to major in IET and where they see themselves in five years.

Sidney will graduate this summer, thanks to a scholarship he received.  

“We’re pleased to acknowledge Tri-County’s innovation and success and hope this scholarship makes the journey to a career in manufacturing a little easier for deserving students,” said Jim Chrzan, vice president/publisher, Automation World.

“The scholarship is the reason I can graduate on time,” said Sidney.  

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Two years after moving away from home, she is in her last semester as a University Transfer student at Tri-County Technical College, she is preparing applications to three South Carolina universities, with Clemson at the top of the list.

“It’s been a learning experience.  I’ve grown up a lot,” says Nikki, who holds down two part-time jobs as a full-time student to support herself financially. 

“I’ve seen what no education does,” said Nikki, a first-generation college student.  She will leave Tri-County with a nominal debt.  “I’m an out-of-state student who will graduate with no loans,  thanks to a Pell grant, part time jobs, and a scholarship from the Cattleman‘s Association,” she said.

 “My home life was chaotic and I couldn't focus at all in high school. That's where career technical education came in. It doesn't show you how to take a test.  It shows you how to handle life and how to build a life.  High school gave me a diploma, but if it wasn’t for career technical education, I wouldn’t have made it. I now have a real chance.”

After applying to a larger university and was accepted, she realized that out-of-state tuition was too costly, and she didn’t want to dive into debt. 

She searched the Internet for smaller, less expensive colleges and found Tri-County.  An added bonus was that Tri-County’s college transfer courses easily transfer to Clemson, her school of choice.

“Tri-County was affordable, it was close to Clemson and the institutions are partners in many projects,” she said.  “Most important, Tri-County was in my price range,” said Nikki, who now is a community college advocate.  Not once during the past two years has she felt shortchanged on the college experience.

“I’ve been on many other two-year campuses and they don’t have Tri-County’s atmosphere.  It feels like a university.  Students have a focus, either to transfer or to enter the workforce.  There are a variety of people here and I’ve discovered I can learn from all of them.  I can be in class with a 40-year-old mother pursuing a nursing degree or a man who is changing careers or 20-year old like me who wants to transfer to Clemson.” 

“Because of Tri-County, I feel 100 percent prepared academically,” says Nikki.  

Nikki

I’m an out-of-state student who will graduate with no loans, thanks to a Pell grant, part time jobs, and a scholarship

quote

Nikki was one of 30 seniors who graduated from Cherokee High School in 2013. “I can count on both hands those who went on to college,” she said.  For most of them, college was just 30 minutes from her hometown. “They don’t want to leave,” she said.  “But I did.  I wanted more.”

Two years after moving away from home, she is in her last semester as a University Transfer student at Tri-County Technical College, she is preparing applications to three South Carolina universities, with Clemson at the top of the list.

“It’s been a learning experience.  I’ve grown up a lot,” says Nikki, who holds down two part-time jobs as a full-time student to support herself financially. 

“I’ve seen what no education does,” said Nikki, a first-generation college student.  She will leave Tri-County with a nominal debt.  “I’m an out-of-state student who will graduate with no loans,  thanks to a Pell grant, part time jobs, and a scholarship from the Cattleman‘s Association,” she said.

 “My home life was chaotic and I couldn't focus at all in high school. That's where career technical education came in. It doesn't show you how to take a test.  It shows you how to handle life and how to build a life.  High school gave me a diploma, but if it wasn’t for career technical education, I wouldn’t have made it. I now have a real chance.”

After applying to a larger university and was accepted, she realized that out-of-state tuition was too costly, and she didn’t want to dive into debt. 

She searched the Internet for smaller, less expensive colleges and found Tri-County.  An added bonus was that Tri-County’s college transfer courses easily transfer to Clemson, her school of choice.

“Tri-County was affordable, it was close to Clemson and the institutions are partners in many projects,” she said.  “Most important, Tri-County was in my price range,” said Nikki, who now is a community college advocate.  Not once during the past two years has she felt shortchanged on the college experience.

“I’ve been on many other two-year campuses and they don’t have Tri-County’s atmosphere.  It feels like a university.  Students have a focus, either to transfer or to enter the workforce.  There are a variety of people here and I’ve discovered I can learn from all of them.  I can be in class with a 40-year-old mother pursuing a nursing degree or a man who is changing careers or 20-year old like me who wants to transfer to Clemson.” 

“Because of Tri-County, I feel 100 percent prepared academically,” says Nikki.  

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“It’s important to set goals.  They keep me motivated,” said Lindsey, who after earning Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) and Associate Degree Nursing degrees from Tri-County, went on to receive bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Clemson, while working full-time as a registered nurse.

In the past, there were barriers to pursuing additional education, such as time constraints, finances, and a need for personalized advising in their coursework. 

“It helps to have encouraging counselors and instructors like I had at both Tri-County and Clemson,” Lindsey added. “I try to be that for my students now,” said Lindsey, who has been working as a full-time lecturer in Clemson’s School of Nursing (mental health nursing) for more than a year.

Lindsey earned her master’s in Nursing (specializing in Family Nurse Practitioner) from Clemson in 2012 and then began working as a nurse at the CVS Minute Clinic in Clemson.

She was a graduate teaching assistant while pursuing her master’s.  “I loved that job,” she said.  “I love this job.  I am so happy.  This will be my lifelong career.”

She continues to work as an R.N. on weekends and with hospice care. 

“I’ve got the best of both worlds,” said Lindsey, whose next goal is to earn a Ph.D.

Lindsey

It’s important to set goals. They keep me motivated.

quote

Lindsey is a self-described planner and a goal setter and it has paid off.  At age 31, she has earned four college degrees – two from Tri-County Technical College and two from Clemson University.  She has advanced from an LPN to a lecturer in the School of Nursing at Clemson University in just a decade.   

“It’s important to set goals.  They keep me motivated,” said Lindsey, who after earning Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) and Associate Degree Nursing degrees from Tri-County, went on to receive bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Clemson, while working full-time as a registered nurse.

In the past, there were barriers to pursuing additional education, such as time constraints, finances, and a need for personalized advising in their coursework. 

“It helps to have encouraging counselors and instructors like I had at both Tri-County and Clemson,” Lindsey added. “I try to be that for my students now,” said Lindsey, who has been working as a full-time lecturer in Clemson’s School of Nursing (mental health nursing) for more than a year.

Lindsey earned her master’s in Nursing (specializing in Family Nurse Practitioner) from Clemson in 2012 and then began working as a nurse at the CVS Minute Clinic in Clemson.

She was a graduate teaching assistant while pursuing her master’s.  “I loved that job,” she said.  “I love this job.  I am so happy.  This will be my lifelong career.”

She continues to work as an R.N. on weekends and with hospice care. 

“I’ve got the best of both worlds,” said Lindsey, whose next goal is to earn a Ph.D.

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The idea of going to college as a 45-year-old single dad was enough to make me back out. The first day, I was terrified that I would be the oldest person in class. Much to my amazement, I was only in the top 10. I found that being older gives you more life experience than the younger students, and that an older person gives a sense of balance to discussions. My children are proud that I'm attempting to get my teaching degree and become an elementary school teacher. The reason I want to teach in elementary is the fact that 19 percent of teachers in elementary are males. Students at that young age need male role models. If I can go back to college and succeed, anyone can. I am a single, disabled veteran, 47 years old. In high school, I was a C student, and now I make A's and B's. You can do it.

Tony

The first day, I was terrified that I would be the oldest person in class.

quote While serving in Iraq in 2003-2004, I was injured and my spine separated, leaving me disabled. The job I did for the federal government as a diesel mechanic was no longer an option. The VA offered the opportunity to attend college and get a degree in teaching, and I could not refuse the chance to start over. I have full custody of a 14-year-old daughter named Kayla and a 12-year-old son named Austin. Both have helped me with my homework on rare occasions. Getting my associate degree has been a blessing, and when I receive my bachelor's degree it will be a win for all of us.

The idea of going to college as a 45-year-old single dad was enough to make me back out. The first day, I was terrified that I would be the oldest person in class. Much to my amazement, I was only in the top 10. I found that being older gives you more life experience than the younger students, and that an older person gives a sense of balance to discussions. My children are proud that I'm attempting to get my teaching degree and become an elementary school teacher. The reason I want to teach in elementary is the fact that 19 percent of teachers in elementary are males. Students at that young age need male role models. If I can go back to college and succeed, anyone can. I am a single, disabled veteran, 47 years old. In high school, I was a C student, and now I make A's and B's. You can do it.

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It was a great day for me, I was surrounded by friends of mine that I had been going to school with for several years, and it was something that I feel like everyone should experience. Everyone should have that moment when they're proud of what they've accomplished.

Carrie

Education, and finishing my college degree, was very important to me.

quote My graduation happened a year after I had planned for it to originally ... because of all the things I had to get done in order to graduate.

It was a great day for me, I was surrounded by friends of mine that I had been going to school with for several years, and it was something that I feel like everyone should experience. Everyone should have that moment when they're proud of what they've accomplished.

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My dad was a college graduate, and he always supported me in that path of going to college. I certainly don't feel like I would be where I am at today had I not been so lucky to have gone to college. It made me see life in another way. It made me work harder.

Luke

quote Create your personal plan to go to school. Just follow the steps outlined here and you’ll be on your way!

My dad was a college graduate, and he always supported me in that path of going to college. I certainly don't feel like I would be where I am at today had I not been so lucky to have gone to college. It made me see life in another way. It made me work harder.

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We reached a point where we both knew I needed to go full time and work part time so I could finish college. First Citizens National Bank let me work part time at a bank while I completed my degree. I graduated in 1991 with a B.S. in education and a major in business. I took the challenge of managing the largest department in the bank while beginning an MBA program. I managed loan operations for a couple of years, then was promoted to Vice President and Branch Manager. After a few years, I was moved to the corporate office, positioned to take over as Chief Administrative Officer. I was blessed to be appointed as Dean of Continuing Education for Dyersburg State Community College, a position that required a master's degree. A few years later I was asked to serve as Interim Dean of Business and Technology. In 2008, I was promoted to Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Continuing Education for DSCC. I would have never dreamed this could happen to a little girl from a working-class family who thought college was only available to the privileged.

Tina

I would have never dreamed this could happen to a little girl from a working-class family, one who thought college was only available to the privileged.

quote My mother worked in a factory, and my father was a painter. My parents had five children: two boys and three girls. I am next to youngest. I married my husband during my senior year and dropped out of college. I went to work for a local bank instead of completing my degree. I held an entry-level clerical position, though I had more education than most employees of the bank. I just could not be satisfied with that. I was in a constant state of unrest, because I knew I had the ability to do more.

We reached a point where we both knew I needed to go full time and work part time so I could finish college. First Citizens National Bank let me work part time at a bank while I completed my degree. I graduated in 1991 with a B.S. in education and a major in business. I took the challenge of managing the largest department in the bank while beginning an MBA program. I managed loan operations for a couple of years, then was promoted to Vice President and Branch Manager. After a few years, I was moved to the corporate office, positioned to take over as Chief Administrative Officer. I was blessed to be appointed as Dean of Continuing Education for Dyersburg State Community College, a position that required a master's degree. A few years later I was asked to serve as Interim Dean of Business and Technology. In 2008, I was promoted to Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Continuing Education for DSCC. I would have never dreamed this could happen to a little girl from a working-class family who thought college was only available to the privileged.

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From my mother's point of view, college was non-negotiable. It became so important to her that, in her 40s, she enrolled in the local community college with a disability scholarship. Though her health had started to fail, my mother was determined to get that degree -- she took her last exams as a college student with my father by her side carrying her oxygen tank and IV pole into her classroom. At 46 years old, my mother became a college graduate. My senior year, she died. College looked like it was farther and farther away. However, a week after she died, I got my acceptance letter to the University of Florida. Since the day I moved away from that small town to go to college, my life has been filled with blessings. On my graduation day, my father wrote me a note about how proud my mother would be to see me graduate, and I knew it was true. She taught me to follow my dreams. I am now fortunate to not have to live paycheck to paycheck, and education has everything to do with this.

Natasha

To say you can't afford it and give up is simply not an option. It didn't stop me or my mother, and it should not stop you.

quote Although they were intelligent, hardworking people, my family always struggled with money because of medical bills -- my father suffered from pancreatic cancer when I was a baby, my mother was diagnosed with lupus after she had my sister and I also struggled as a child with Larsen syndrome, a rare disease that affected all the joints in my hips, legs and feet. As I entered high school, college seemed like a luxury that would not be available to me.

From my mother's point of view, college was non-negotiable. It became so important to her that, in her 40s, she enrolled in the local community college with a disability scholarship. Though her health had started to fail, my mother was determined to get that degree -- she took her last exams as a college student with my father by her side carrying her oxygen tank and IV pole into her classroom. At 46 years old, my mother became a college graduate. My senior year, she died. College looked like it was farther and farther away. However, a week after she died, I got my acceptance letter to the University of Florida. Since the day I moved away from that small town to go to college, my life has been filled with blessings. On my graduation day, my father wrote me a note about how proud my mother would be to see me graduate, and I knew it was true. She taught me to follow my dreams. I am now fortunate to not have to live paycheck to paycheck, and education has everything to do with this.

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Being out of school for almost 12 years before returning to college was somewhat intimidating. Going back at 31 and wondering how to balance full-time work, a family and studying for school was overwhelming. I thought, "To get a four-year degree at this pace, I will be 40 or older before it's over!" Someone told me this: "You'll turn 40 with or without a degree anyway!" After taking my basics in a local community college, it was a privilege to go to a university only an hour from home. The doors that have opened because of my continued education have been nothing short of miraculous. Over the last 15 years, I have been Vice President of Human Resources, Corporate Vice President of Human Resources and Vice President of Operations for a 50-million-dollar automotive supplier. I currently manage a Grammy-winning gospel artist in Nashville named Jason Crabb. None of this would have happened without my formal education.

Philip

Being out of school for almost 12 years before I saw the inside of a college was intimidating.

quote After high school, I started working in a factory and began a modest climb up the corporate ladder. I soon realized that my climb was limited by a lack of formal education. As a third-shift supervisor, I was not going to run a department without a degree. I was doomed to work the night shift for the rest of my life.

Being out of school for almost 12 years before returning to college was somewhat intimidating. Going back at 31 and wondering how to balance full-time work, a family and studying for school was overwhelming. I thought, "To get a four-year degree at this pace, I will be 40 or older before it's over!" Someone told me this: "You'll turn 40 with or without a degree anyway!" After taking my basics in a local community college, it was a privilege to go to a university only an hour from home. The doors that have opened because of my continued education have been nothing short of miraculous. Over the last 15 years, I have been Vice President of Human Resources, Corporate Vice President of Human Resources and Vice President of Operations for a 50-million-dollar automotive supplier. I currently manage a Grammy-winning gospel artist in Nashville named Jason Crabb. None of this would have happened without my formal education.

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When it comes to my own daughters and getting the chance to get a degree beyond high school, they're going to know it's a special opportunity.

Dierks

I'd always loved music ... but I knew education was really important as well. I was able to put the two together and get into a school in Nashville so I could really focus on the music but try to get a college education as well.

quote By getting that secondary education, by going back to college and getting that degree, it's really a special thing. I would definitely not pass it up, 'cause it's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

When it comes to my own daughters and getting the chance to get a degree beyond high school, they're going to know it's a special opportunity.

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I wanted a career doing something I loved, and I wanted to be able to provide for myself and live comfortably. I went to the guidance counselor and began talking to her about college and what my options might be. I told her my biggest fear was that I wouldn't have good enough grades to get in to any school. She looked at my grades and my GPA and she began to laugh. I immediately wanted to crawl in a hole and die. She could tell from my expression that I was embarrassed. She asked, "Richie, why do you think your grades are so bad?" She smiled and said that I actually had a pretty good GPA, only .2 away from graduating with honors. She advised me that if I was worried about school that I might want to start at a community college and transfer to a university later. I did, and transferred to MTSU in 2003.

Richie

There is financial help out there, and it isn't as confusing as you think.

quote My father is a tattoo artist and my mother is a factory worker. My sister was also a tattoo artist and worked for my father at his shop. No one in my family went to college. I was not expected to go. The expectation was that I would graduate high school, work at the tattoo shop, and live my life close to my family in Jackson.

I wanted a career doing something I loved, and I wanted to be able to provide for myself and live comfortably. I went to the guidance counselor and began talking to her about college and what my options might be. I told her my biggest fear was that I wouldn't have good enough grades to get in to any school. She looked at my grades and my GPA and she began to laugh. I immediately wanted to crawl in a hole and die. She could tell from my expression that I was embarrassed. She asked, "Richie, why do you think your grades are so bad?" She smiled and said that I actually had a pretty good GPA, only .2 away from graduating with honors. She advised me that if I was worried about school that I might want to start at a community college and transfer to a university later. I did, and transferred to MTSU in 2003.

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It was an experience I'll never forget because its college life, you learn about yourself, about things you never thought that you would do and say and how to handle yourself, it was just the best of discovery.

Lionel

Education was high on my list of things I had to get right. I'd love to tell you I had [many] colleges to choose from, but I only had about three.

quote College was probably the best adventure ever in my life. Not only was it an opportunity to meet my lifetime, life-long friends forever, but I also met the Commodores on that campus.

It was an experience I'll never forget because its college life, you learn about yourself, about things you never thought that you would do and say and how to handle yourself, it was just the best of discovery.

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