Darcy Becker | Editor
I graduated from Washington High School in May 2016. In June 2016, I was in Tennessee for freshman orientation. In August 2016, I decided that I would stay home to attend East Central College; I originally planned on one semester so that I could help my brother while my parents filed for divorce.
Flash forward almost two years later, I will be receiving my Associate of Arts in just a couple weeks. If you had asked me two years ago, I never would have considered community college.
When I walked into the journalism newsroom in August 2016, an article by Tom Hanks hung on our bulletin board — “I Owe It All to Community College”. Now, I scream “Ditto!” at Mr. Hanks.
I was apprehensive at first. I moved around quite a bit before graduating high school; about eight schools and three states later, I was ready to make my way to a four-year university and continue my education. This stigma always conflicted me, that I needed to go to a four-year university right away to “make something of myself.”
But I was wrong. So wrong. Attending ECC allowed me to hone in on my skills, passions, and education. Attending ECC allowed me to meet just some of the inspiring and dedicated faculty they have to offer.
Now, in high school, I was active on our school’s newspaper; I enjoyed it, but I did not think it was what I completely wanted to do. Regardless, I still wanted to be a part of a publication. This is where my involvement began and who a shout-out goes out to.
Leigh Kolb. Leigh visited my high school’s newspaper class during my junior year to recruit staff members. When I decided to attend ECC, she was the first person I reached out to, and I knew then that she was going to be one of my biggest supporters. I’m also not good with words, I like simplicity, but there are not enough words to describe her and how thankful I am for her. Knowing that someone is cheering you on through both your good and bad times, and there were many bad times, motivated me during my journey, and I can only hope that I live a life as empowering as Leigh’s.
I began taking her Applied Journalism class to continue my skills; easily, had I attended a four-year university right away, my work may not have been something that I could display as much as I have been able to do here. Here, I have worked as a news editor and currently as a layout editor (so I hope you all appreciate these spreads). No matter the class I took with her (News Writing and Honors Composition II), I looked forward to it each day because she made class enjoyable and very relatable. That, I appreciate.
During my first two semesters, I also got involved in Student Government Association as their Public Relations Officer. SGA was a hoot. They are a hoot, and I love it. Thanks, Courtney Henrichsen, for bringing up this position in Foundation Seminar; this continued to let me hone in on my love for speaking, writing, and communicating to those in the student body.
Community college, without a single doubt behind this statement, grants students the ability to open discussions with their teachers. One of these teachers is Matt Gifford. Shout-out to you for sparking my interest in philosophy — do you know how many people I tell to take your class (OK, not just because they may need Ethics, but for how fun and enlightening it is)? Matt Gifford is an icon and truly fascinates his classes with his powerful voice and scenarios. Easily, I may not have had this experience with him and Leigh, for example, had I truly started at a four-year university.
While I am at it, there are two other teachers I would like to thank — Dennis Pohlman and Tom Haas. More icons.
I have had Mr. Pohlman for three classes now, starting with Intro to Political Science, United States History 1945 to Present and, currently, United States Government. He is so very passionate about these subjects. I have always had an interest in politics and government, and his teaching and knowledge only added to my interest. To have a teacher truly wanting to make sure that students understand the processes that affect them motivates me to take my knowledge and inform others. Also, Mr. Pohlman, if you see this, you should totally wear that hawaiian shirt.
Next, Tom Haas. He taught at Washington, but I never had the opportunity to be in his classes; it was a must that I take one of his when I saw that he was teaching some classes at ECC. Still, sure, I just may be bias because his teaching area interests me (who doesn’t want to know how society works?), but he makes it memorable. Mr. Haas, I don’t plan to just take the definition of function in society but also your stories on tire tread, baking, meeting Steve Carell and daily walks. Every day, he checks in with us to make sure we are all on the same page and asks us about our day — I can definitely say that does not happen each day, or even just one time, at a four-year university.
You could sit and read this, and maybe I could spatter off some facts about why community college is beneficial for people — or maybe you can read about my experience and why I owe it all to community college.
I have listened to my friends’ experiences. I have read experiences. I even was at a four-year university for two months before finishing my third, and final, semester here. I cannot emphasize enough just how meaningful it is to have teachers supporting you and actually knowing your name. To attend a 15 person class and not dread a 350 seat lecture. To have one-on-one attention. To continue your education at a low-cost, if any depending on aid or the A+ program. To hone in on your skills that you may not have been able to do right away.
And, as I mentioned I like simplicity, this is where I bring my little goodbye to an end.
I said earlier that I had some experience at a four-year university: I initially transferred to the University of Missouri-Columbia in fall 2017 but shortly went on a medical leave — shout-out to everyone who has motivated me through this. I took this semester to finish my AA and work with my doctors. Turns out, it might sound crazy, but I really do know my body, and I have found a wonderful doctor who knew from the start what the plan-of-action was for treatment, especially with this being so rare. These medical issues began affecting my mental health, too, because I began to lose motivation and hope. The past couple months truly have put my life and experiences into perspective. Now, I am the most excited I have ever been with my future.
I signed my lease just a week or so ago. I’ve accepted an internship for the summer and look forward to living on my own in less than a month. I am going back to Mizzou in August to pursue a double major in political science and sociology.
I never would have imagined this a few months ago. I never would have imagined attending community college, let alone having such a great experience that has allowed me to grow in all aspects of my life. So, again, I thank you, and I owe it all to community college.