As I look back at the adventure I have had at Clinton Community College, it has been one of the best experiences I have had in my life.
I was displaced from my job and had no idea what I was going to do to help support my family. My wife encouraged me to look into going back to school for computers since I knew a lot about them. I pondered, “Should I really try this at my age (40)?” My wife kept pushing me to apply to CCC and I finally gave in, not knowing this would be the best decision that I could have made.
My first year with CCC was not what I had expected, although doing this at an older age in my life helped me respect the word “encouragement.” From the first day of class, the first moment I stepped foot on the campus, the staff and faculty made it very clear they were here to help in any way to meet my goal of obtaining a degree in Informational Technology.
As the year progressed, I kept my nose to the grindstone, achieving grades that would allow me to be invited to join the international community college’s honor organization, Phi Theta Kappa. I attended a reception for a scholarship that I was awarded and was approached by CCC staff and faculty asking if I would be joining PTK.
Sadly, I expressed to both of them that at that time I would not be able to join as my family was scraping the bottom of the barrel to pay the bills and was unable to pay the registration fee. Little did I know, and would not find out until later, the Paul B. Sharar Foundation started a Fund-a-Scholar program, a resource that is 100 percent funded by staff and faculty to help students that are unable to pay the fee to join Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society which recognizes their accomplishments and hard work.
As my time passed at the college, I kept my nose to the grindstone and kept my grades where they needed to be to make the dean’s list every semester. In my second year, my family and I were subject to unforeseen circumstances that were out of our control. These had such an impact on our lives that I felt I was at the end of my rope and on the verge of dropping out of school. I was missing class and falling behind on homework. The staff at CCC had noticed me falling back and reached out to me to ask what was going on. I explained my circumstance, and the CCC Staff and Phi Theta Kappa chapter pulled together to help my family in the time of need. My family and I will always be grateful for the effort and contributions both gave in helping us move forward and allowing me to stay in school.
I cannot leave out an organization that contributed to my success in college. If it were not for this organization I would not have been able to stay in school to complete my degree due to financial obligations. I am talking about the Paul B. Sharer Foundation. The Sharar Foundation has helped out so much not only with financial obligations, they also gave me the opportunity to speak about my experience at their annual meeting last fall. Following my speech, I would find out the next day, the co-president of Clinton National Bank, Jenny Boysen, was on the Sharar Foundation board and in attendance that evening. Jenny extended an offer of an internship with Clinton National Bank. This opportunity was huge for me and my family as well as a wonderful blessing. Not only have I gained so much experience and knowledge from my internship at the bank, but it has changed my life forever. I am pleased to say that this whole experience has led me to finding my future employment beginning at the end of this semester.
I am proud to say that I attended one of the best community colleges. Clinton Community College has helped me grow, not only with knowledge but as a whole person. I am sure that if I had taken the route of going to a university my thoughts of dropping out would have been a reality.
You are more than just a student number in a community college; You are a person that they feel the need to assist in any way possible. With my experience at Clinton Community College, I have encouraged my children to take the route of a small school at first and then to transfer to a university.
I want to thank our Clinton Community College for the opportunity it has given my family, along with the opportunities and doors CCC has opened for me. If I had to do it all over again, I would not change one thing on my journey to higher education.