Stories from Campus
Hurdles push student to work even harder: Kristie, a 34-year-old Wyoming County native, is a full-time student at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. She's also a full-time single parent of two girls, ages 13 and 16. She started working toward a psychology degree at an online college several years ago, but an automobile accident set her back.
Single mom continues pursuing career dream: Irene was born in Michigan and adopted at age 5. Her family relocated to Logan, WV, which is where she still lives today, as a single parent of two children. Having several years of experience, she worked as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home. But Irene wanted more for herself and her children.
Training helps graduate in professional and personal life: Greg Castle planned to go into nursing or occupational therapy because he wanted to help people. His wife was a nurse, and with the stability of both of them working in the allied health field, they could build a secure financial future for their family of five.
Single parent starts rewarding nursing career: Brook first came to West Virginia Northern Community College in 2014 to attain a certificate as a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant. She graduated in the fall of 2015 and decided that she wanted to expand her education and pursue a degree in nursing.
First-generation college graduate remains dedicated: Edna Baisden from Logan is a single mother of five sons, and a proud grandma as well. Her path to a fulfilling career started at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College two years ago - and she hasn't looked back since.
Student's passion for Sign Language continues from high school to college: Jamie Watts' interest in American Sign Language began when she was in high school, which is where her dual enrollment began. In her sophomore year, she noticed a young man who was sitting with a girl and he didn’t talk. He used his hands to communicate. This piqued her interest. She wanted to learn how to talk with him.
Donald & Justin Kenneda
Father and son complete program together: Donald Kenneda and his son Justin recently completed New River Community and Technical College’s Electric Distribution Engineering Technology program, along with 30 other students including another father and son.
Student becomes teacher: As a student in West Virginia Northern Community College’s welding technology program, Brandy Killeen found herself studying alongside men twice her age. Now, the student has become the teacher. The college recently hired Killeen as its first female welding technology instructor.
Justin & Cecil Lester
State program helps student learn and earn: Justin Lester started as an EDET student in the Learn and Earn program through New River Community and Technical College and Pike Electric. This state initiative allows students to intern and receive paid work experience and college credit. After his father, Cecil Lester, found himself unemployed from the utility industry, he enrolled in the accelerated EDET program offered over the summer
Baldev & Karanveer Rathore
Community college helping brothers achieve American Dream: Despite a language barrier, a heavy work load and a midnight shift at Wal-Mart, brothers Baldev and Karanveer Rathore still managed to make the Pierpont Community & Technical College’s President’s and Dean’s list. The brothers, who emigrated from India in 2015, came to Fairmont to study information technology, which they both major in. They said that their stay in America has been great, with each day bringing new surprises.
My name is Courtney Summers. I am 35 years of age and a single parent of two children, a daughter who is 16 and a son who is 12. I am a proud resident of West Virginia and live in a small area called Yuma Camp in Logan County.
Speaking of my childhood, I had a large and wonderful family growing up. I had two biological brothers and sister and two stepbrothers. My mother was a surgical nurse and an endoscopy specialist, and my stepfather is a doctor. My biological father is a retired coal miner. And, because of my mother and stepfather, I have always been interested in working in HealthCare. I wanted to make my parents proud of me, and I am sure my mother would be if she were still living.
Having 17 years of employment history, I worked in customer service, in-home care, and office management. I was good at any work I pursued. I was very competitive to be the best and do my best at anything I did. I won several contests and received promotions in customer service as I progressed quickly. But, this line of work was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was crucial that I learn more skills and earn a college degree to become self-sustainable in today’s economy. I wanted and needed to make better money for myself and my children. I thought to myself this is possible, and I am determined to do whatever it takes to get where I want to be.
In the meantime, I was diagnosed with lupus, so this wasn’t helping situations to say the least. However, I am a warrior at heart. I may lose a fight but not the battle. I have learned to choose the battles I fight and not to waste my time on things that I can’t change. I think this comes with life experience as we all get older. You might say it is a few words of wisdom to those who may not understand what I am saying.
Life is inevitable because we face many things every day, but my outlook about situations can and does make a difference in my perception of the outcome. I thought to myself I can sit down and give up and wallow in self-pity to cause others to feel sorry for me, or I could rise to the challenge and do something to help myself.
So, I enrolled at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College in Fall 2017. I completed my Board of Governors Degree in Fall 2018 and the HealthCare Professional Degree and the Medical Coding Specialist Certificate in Spring 2019. I attended Southern College for several reasons: high-quality education, low tuition cost, Logan Campus is local and close to my residence, and I found it was easy to schedule classes around my children’s schedules. Also, Southern has a wonderful TANF Program on each campus that assists students, such as I, that are low income. I plan to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Billing and Coding and work to ensure my children go to college.
I faced many barriers along my educational journey, especially financial hardship. I receive monthly benefits, so it allows me to count college hours for my community service hours of service. The TANF Program Student Services Specialist, Hattie Evans, is a blessing to me. She works with the DHHR staff to ensure the barriers were eliminated for me to move forward to meet my educational goals. Without her and the DHHR staff, I would not be receiving my two degrees and a certificate in May 2019. I needed the intrusive case management services to know how to deal with expenses or academic situations that came my way. I think this is one of the best services that DHHR has in place to help their clients receive the guidance, mentoring, and advising that is essential to succeed as a college student, especially, a first-generation college student as I am.
If I could leave a legacy, it would be that I was an example to my children to show them that they can do anything they set their minds to do. They saw me endure hardship and struggle along my academic path, but they saw I never gave up because I had a made up mind. Sometimes we are not dealt the best hand, but it is what we do with the hand we are dealt. Also, I hope that my siblings gain the initiative to take the first step in attending college to make their dreams come true. To sum it all up, I would say, “Love regardless and remember that nothing is impossible.”
My name is Tammi Bailey. I am 30 years of age and a single parent of one child, who is nine years of age. I am a West Virginia resident and proud of my heritage. I was born and raised in Logan County.
Being a single mom with no skills, education, or job, I chose to attend Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College to meet DHHR guidelines to qualify for assistance. I chose to attend Southern for several reasons: campus was local, low cost of tuition, college hours counted toward community service hours to receive TANF benefits, and the legal limitation that forced me to do something with my life.
Being forced to make better decisions for my life, I soon completed the Health Care Professional Degree. The road to success hasn’t been easy for me by any means. It has been stressful and tiresome at times. There were times that I felt overwhelmed and cried, but I persevered and wouldn’t give up. Receiving high-quality student services assistance at Southern helped me tremendously, and, for this I am grateful. I have made some of the best memories that I will cherish in years to come.
Upon completion of an Associate’s Degree, I chose to further my education at Lindsey Wilson School of Professional Counseling to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services and Counseling. Some of the advantages in attending Lindsey Wilson School of Professional Counseling was that I wouldn’t have to travel hours to another university because their classes are offered on Southern’s Logan Campus, and all of my Southern college hours transferred to Lindsey Wilson College with ease.
Furthermore, I would like to mention that I was a participant in the TANF Program at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. Southern’s Student Services Specialist was the first to believe in me. She assisted me anytime that I called, messaged, or went in to see her. She helped me to believe in myself and that I could do anything if I had the mindset. She always reminded me that I was beautiful and very intelligent and to never settle for less, especially, if I am not at fault. Life can be difficult, and sometimes we are not dealt the best hand, but it is what we do with the hand we are dealt. We can grow weaker, or we can embrace challenges to make us stronger. Her guidance helped direct me to take the educational path that is essential for me to complete my long-term goal to become a counselor.
I am proud to say that I obtained my Bachelor of Arts from Lindsey Wilson School of Professional Counseling in December 2018. Not only will this create a better life for me and my son, but it will allow me to further my education to become a licensed professional counselor. I want to inspire hope and encouragement to others to continue to move forward even when the road is rocky and unsure. I want to be a light that gleams in the darkest hours of their lives and to be an example to prove that a person’s past does not reflect or define who you are. I want to instill the motivation and determination in lives of so many that may feel there is no hope or no use in trying.
In conclusion, I plan to start the Master’s Degree in Counseling and Human Development with Lindsey Wilson College in January 2019 and complete the program in December 2020. I want to leave you with this thought which was a part of my speech that I gave at the TANF Banquet in May 2018. “I think, that it is important to remember that no matter how embarrassing it might be to ask for help, sometimes we all get to the point in our lives that we need help. It may be hard for us to ask for help in our time of need, but how can we help others if we have never experienced needing help ourselves. I wouldn’t have made it this far and continue to move forward if it hadn’t been for caseworkers at the Logan DHHR and the Student Services Specialist at Southern who took me under their wings. I received assistance in many ways to help me eliminate barriers to become successful to obtain both degrees and begin the Master’s Program. They demonstrated patience, kindness, and understanding which I needed at that time because I felt so alone and confused in what to do with my life. Now, I am self-confident and happy in knowing that I can soar high in fulfilling my dreams and goals.”