TRIO Student of the Month — Ann Mole

Ann Mole had some information from an insider when she decided to return to school to pursue a degree in graphic design: Her husband.

“He would talk about how much his instructors cared and helped him to achieve his goals,” she said, “so I chose to attend SC4, too.”

The TRIO Student Support Services program has proved to be an important part of Mole’s educational journey at SC4, and it’s provided extra support and encouragement for her when needed.

“The one-on-one advisor appointments gave me the encouragement to get through the semester,” Mole explained. “I’m grateful to Shawne Jowett, Amy Hengehold, and Jessica Brown, who I could always talk to when I needed somebody.”

“My graphic design instructor, Craig DesJardins, also helped to build up my confidence,” she continued. “Andrea Coleman helped me with my grammar and suggested the Grammarly program, which was very helpful. Adobe Creative Cloud software was new to me when I started, but with help from the instructors and other students, I was able to overcome that barrier.”

Mole would recommend the TRIO program to other students because of the feeling of support she’s received that has helped her reach her goals at SC4.

“Along with my husband, the TRIO program helped build up my confidence,” she said.

She’s planning to return to the classroom next year to continue toward her bachelor’s degree in graphic design. For her successful decision to return to school, Ann Mole is the March 2021 TRIO Student of the Month. Congratulations!

TRIO Student of the Month — Marshal DiGiovanni

“Not everyone comes from a situation where going to college is a family tradition.”

Marshal DiGiovanni is one of those students, and for him, SC4’s TRIO Student Support Services program has been the perfect compliment to his college experience.

“It’s the welcoming support system where everyone genuinely wants you to achieve your goals,” he said. “As a first-generation college student, this support helped me. If I ever had questions about financial aid, scheduling, or transferring, the TRIO staff have always been there. If they couldn’t answer it, they pointed me in the right direction.”

DiGiovanni chose SC4 because of the affordability of community college tuition, but it was more than just price that attracted him.

“I knew that community college classes transfer well, so I figured it was a great place to get started,” he explained. “And I’d heard about the TRIO program, which offers priority scheduling and quality tutors. It helped me achieve my goals by being my support system. There’s no reason to make college harder on yourself, and the TRIO program has plenty of resources to help you now and to prepare you for the future.”

The challenges of the past year with the COVID-19 pandemic moving many classes online or to a remote learning format posed additional challenges for many students, DiGiovanni included.

“I think I can speak for most students when I say online classes aren’t exactly my preferred method of learning,” he said. “Having to juggle tons of dates, a calendar, and a whiteboard changed my life. Face-to-face learning will always be ideal for me, but it is the current situation we live in and we must adapt.”

“I’m forever grateful to my family and my friends for always being there and supporting me,” DiGiovanni continued. “I also want to thank the professors at SC4 for their hard work during this pandemic. It’s not only the students who have been impacted; this has been a challenge for everyone.”

DiGiovanni is planning to transfer to Western Michigan University in the fall to complete his Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. He’s not sure where he’d like to work after that, but he has a “huge interest” in software development and machine learning.

“Until then, I’ll keep putting my best foot forward in the classroom and enjoying each day with those around me,” he said.

For his positive attitude and success in the classroom, Marshal DiGiovanni is the February TRIO Student of the Month. Congratulations, Marshal!

TRIO Student of the Month — Kate Bosma

Kate Bosma is starting her final semester in SC4’s Associate Degree Nursing program. Although she’s nearing the end of this part of her educational journey, she faced significant barriers when she decided to return to college to pursue a career in nursing.

“Financial barriers were huge,” Bosma explained. “Coming back to college involved a major career shift, and I already had a previous degree. I was able to earn scholarship assistance, however, from both SC4 and the Community Foundation.”

It had also been a while since Bosma had taken classes, so relearning how to be a college student again was also a major hurdle, but resources like SC4’s Achievement Center and the TRIO Student Support Service Program paved the way for her success.

“Returning to college presented emotional struggles, too,” Bosma recalled. “But support from my amazing husband, my perfect daughter, and my family helped to keep me going whenever I wanted to give up.”

Bosma heard about the TRIO program during an orientation session for the ADN program. After hearing the requirements, she thought she’d be a good match, especially as a returning student with a family and a full-time job. “I knew I could use all of the help I could get to succeed,” she said.

“TRIO helped me succeed in many ways. Personal advising sessions, encouragement and words of advice, and stress relief from cultural enrichment opportunities offered through the program allowed me to take a break from my books and get some stress relief,” Bosma said. “I’d recommend TRIO without a doubt! College can be hard, so the more support systems you have built up will only help you succeed.”

Bosma is grateful to many people at SC4 for helping her make it to the finish line of her degree.

“Where to start?” she laughed. “Shawne Jowett and Amy Hengehold in TRIO have been so helpful. The free tutors in the Achievement Center got me back on my feet and into the groove of being a student again. Anne McPherson helped me find resources to aid in my success and taught me how to study effectively. Professor Carrie Dollar, whose classes I took when I was at SC4 the first time and now during my return, helped me develop confidence while completing the biology pre-requisites for the ADN program.”

All of her instructors have pushed Bosma to succeed and have given her the tools she’ll need to be a nurse. “I’ll look back and remember the women who not only taught me skills, but who also made me realize exactly why I want to be a nurse, even on the hard days.”

Bosma will graduate in May, then will take the NCLEX licensing exam to become an official Registered Nurse. She plans to enter the workforce while also continuing her nursing education.

“The opportunities are endless,” she said, “and my story is just beginning.”

For her dedication to her educational goals, Kate Bosma is the January 2021 TRIO Student of the Month. Congratulations!

TRIO Student of the Month – Alissa Bonney

Attending your first college classes can be exciting, but there can also be surprises and frustrations that make success more difficult. Having support, especially at the beginning, can make the difference.

Alissa Bonney learned that the hard way. She took some classes and ran into some barriers. Then she learned about SC4’s TRIO Student Support Services program.

“I tried taking classes without accommodations at first,” Bonney explained, “and the hardest challenge was communicating with my professors and getting help when I needed it the most. I applied to the TRIO program because I found out about the great benefits, including tutors to help you in any subject and college trips to help you plan the rest of your degree.”

She worked closely with her TRIO advisors to select the classes that would help her achieve her goals in the pharmacy field. TRIO has also helped her improve her study habits and plan out major projects and papers. Her monthly visits with the TRIO team have made her feel more comfortable talking with other people.

“I’d recommend TRIO to anyone because of how close everyone gets while in the program,” Bonney said. “Sometimes classes can be all business, and TRIO can be a relaxing place to study and most importantly get help when you need it.”

Bonney originally chose SC4 because she wanted to start off on the right foot by getting her general education classes out of the way at a community college. She plans to continue to a four-year university after completing her associate degree, studying pharmacy so she can move up from her current job as a pharmacy technician to becoming a pharmacist.

“I’m particularly grateful for the TRIO and SC4 advisors and tutors who have not only helped me in my classes but also listen to my family stories,” she said. “They always ask me how I’m doing.”

While Bonney is thankful to many SC4 faculty and staff members for their support, she singles out Amy Hengehold, TRIO support staff member.

“She’s always so happy and joyful,” she said, smiling. “Amy is always willing to listen to my stories.”

Because of her inspiring success at SC4, Alissa Bonney is the December TRIO Student of the Month. Congratulations!

TRIO Student of the Month: Jenna Linton

Jenna Linton likes being independent, but also appreciates having extra support when she needs it. A competitive runner, Linton chose SC4 both because she had the opportunity to continue her cross-country career at the college level and because Port Huron wasn’t close to her hometown.

“I wanted to live and see another part of Michigan,” she explained. “I knew I could live by myself. Moving away from home and into the dorm was a challenge. I’m pretty good at managing schoolwork with my running and my friends, but I had to learn other life skills. I have to make sure I prepare enough food for the next week or two, and I had to learn how to manage my spending and saving better.”

Linton wears hearing aids in both ears, which helps with the challenge of hearing and understanding people. It can be hard to catch everything in a conversation, and she’s had to stick up for herself and ask for help when she needed it. She’s found success in working with her SC4 professors to ensure she gets the best education possible. She also applied for the TRIO Student Support Services program at SC4, because she’s always been a student who needs a little extra help along the way.

“TRIO has been helpful by checking with me to see how I’m doing, both educationally and personally,” Linton said. “They’ve also helped me set realistic school and personal goals. We talk about my classes and my plan to get my work done on time. We set goals for writing papers and how I can get a better grade by including other writing skills. Having a tutor available for my harder subjects gives me less stress to worry about.”

Linton enthusiastically recommends the TRIO program to other students. “They are an amazing support program with a lot of resources to help students succeed. The TRIO classroom in the Achievement Center is also a major resource, with computers to work on, a quiet place to study, and staff available to help you with anything you need.”

She’s thankful for all the help she’s received in her time at SC4, especially from her professors who have had to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic while still teaching effectively.

“This semester has been difficult with school being online,” Linton said. “The professors have been working non-stop to provide us with resources we need to succeed. I’m extremely thankful that my professors are working through this learning curve with me and even laughing through the hard times that have made SC4 a little bit better.”

Linton is planning to transfer to Northern Michigan University in Marquette to major in Elementary Special Education. She plans to keep running at NMU, either on their club team or just on her own to stay healthy and in shape. She wants to hike and explore, too, because there are plenty of trails and other outdoor activities to participate in. Eventually, she’d like to move to Montana to teach and start her family.

For her perseverance and dedication to improving herself through education, Jenna Linton is the November TRIO Student of the month.

TRIO Student of the Month: Giovonni Carden

Giovonni Carden always wanted to be a nurse. She knew SC4 had a great program and it was also close by, so her choice was simple. But the decision to go to college often involves additional challenges that aren’t quite as simple. So Carden also got involved with the college’s TRIO Student Support Services program at the suggestion of some of her friends.

“I heard great things from others about the [TRIO] program,” Carden said, “and I thought that I could use some help along my journey in college.”

Her intuition about joining TRIO turned out to be a great choice.

“TRIO has helped me obtain my goals by mentoring me, addressing questions and concerns I had, and walking me through the steps to prepare for and apply to the nursing program,” she explained. “Shawne Jowett [Interim Director of TRIO at SC4] has been there for me every single time I needed her help. I’m extremely grateful for her. I really can’t thank her enough for all the help she has given me.”

For her achievements at SC4 and in the TRIO program, Carden is the October TRIO Student of the Month.

Balancing college and everyday life aren’t easy. Carden notes that she needed to work, pay her bills (including tuition), while also finding time to do well in her classes. “It wasn’t easy at the time, but I took everything one step at a time and didn’t worry about events I couldn’t control,” she said.

Carden would recommend the TRIO program to current SC4 students as well as incoming freshmen. “TRIO has such a broad spectrum of resources anyone could benefit from it,” she said. “Also, it’s full of sweet, caring people who are always there to help when you need them.”

She’s planning to complete her nursing degree at SC4 and then move on to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. She’d like to be an operating room nurse or maybe a labor and delivery nurse. Later, she may investigate becoming a doula (someone who provides emotional and physical support during pregnancy and childbirth).

“I want to be there to help and make sure they’re comfortable,” she said.

SC4 student finds college success in TRIO program

When Mikayla Phetteplace decided to restart her college career in 2018, she attended an orientation session for the TRIO program. With a six-month-old baby girl, Mikayla’s schedule wasn’t flexible enough for on-campus classes and she was going to need some help getting back into the swing of college classes. SC4’s TRIO Student Support Services program looked like a great choice.

“After [the TRIO] orientation, I had an advising appointment,” Mikayla explains. “The advisor highly recommended TRIO. I was amazed at the opportunities and benefits of being in the program, so I didn’t hesitate to fill out the application.”

Mikayla has been in the TRIO program for five semesters, and she’s sure she wouldn’t have had the success she’s had at SC4 without it. “Shawne (Jowett, then-TRIO advisor and current Interim Director of the program) kept me on track and made sure that the classes I was taking were online and needed for me to graduate. The early enrollment opportunity and the tutoring were the services I benefited from the most.”

With a full-time job and family responsibilities, Mikayla’s biggest challenge is time, and the help provided by her instructors and the TRIO team has been essential. “There are never enough hours in the day,” she says. “I have found that the trick to having the time is making it. It has seemed impossible sometimes, but things always get accomplished by the deadline. I try to remind myself to breathe and always ask for help when I need it.”

While it was important that she was able to complete her associate degree in computer information systems completely online, being able to travel 30 minutes to campus if she needed additional help was also important to Mikayla’s success. “SC4 is local, so unlike some online schools where literally everything is done online, if I need to come to campus I can.”

Mikayla has had support from many SC4 faculty and staff, but she is particularly thankful for the support of three people. “I’m most grateful for Professor Colleen Forsgren. She has been the most supportive, informational, and just all-around the best professor I’ve had at SC4. I’ve learned so much under her instruction,” Mikayla says. “I’m also grateful to Amy (Hengehold, TRIO Support Staff Member) and Shawne. They’re both so wonderful.”

Because of her overall success at SC4 and the impact that the college’s TRIO SSS program has had on her, Mikayla is the TRIO Student of the Month for September 2020.

Mikayla is planning to graduate in December with her associate degree, and eventually hopes to transfer to a university to complete her bachelor’s degree. She currently works as an administrative assistant and she and her husband hoping to buy a home in the area to give their daughter a place to grow up in and enjoy.

“TRIO has been one of the brightest spots of my college career,” Mikayla says. “There is nothing not to like about TRIO. They are helpful, kind, supportive, and always there if anyone has questions or concerns.”

TRIO student keeps a focus on big goals

Nelson Thorn has big goals, but it hasn’t always been easy to keep moving toward them. Loss of close relatives and the financial burdens of being an independent student have meant that he’s had to keep focused on what he wants to accomplish in life. Fortunately, SC4’s TRIO program has been there to help, along with many other sources of support and encouragement on campus.

Initially, Thorn was attracted to the flexibility SC4’s nursing programs offered to students.

“I chose SC4 because of the programs, class sizes, resources, and student involvement,” he said. “And with the addition of the student housing, I had a place to call home for my first year. (Manager of college housing) Nathanial Shrapnell helped me tremendously.”

When personal difficulties happened, Thorn turned to SC4 campus resources for help.

“One of the hardest barriers to face was losing a few relatives. The staff and my professors helped me to stay in school and keep up my grade point average. And then I applied to the TRIO program.”

“TRIO gave me more personalized, hands-on help. I was struggling with deciding a major and planning my transfer pathway, and TRIO supported me in my academic success,” Thorn said. “I was also interested in the events TRIO holds for its students, including college tours, concerts, plays, and volunteer experiences.”

Thorn has plenty of people to thank for his success as a student at SC4, starting with TRIO staff support Amy Hengehold and director Jessica Brown and especially his TRIO advisor Shawne Jowett.

“I don’t know if I would be graduating without her help!” he said. Others who have been particularly inspirational are his first academic advisor Stacy Healy, SC4’s coordinator of student activities and services Sherry Artman, director of behavioral intervention and support services David Goetze, and Testing Center staff members Kim Heering and Kelly Lindsay.

“They have been unconditionally supportive and have been mentors to me, from just talking with me and allowing me to express myself to helping me find additional support and resources,” Thorn explained. “And special thanks to my friends who have become family and have been my rock for the past two years.”

Thorn plans to transfer to the University of Michigan to pursue bachelor’s degrees in psychology and business administration, with a concentration in entrepreneurship. He’d also like to complete a master’s degree before he turns 30.

He recommends TRIO to anyone who’s eligible for the program. “With longer advising appointments, support services, and tutoring, any college student would find TRIO beneficial.”

TRIO program student well-positioned for career success

St. Clair County Community College’s accounting program, along with the college’s proximity to home and student-to-instructor ratio, attracted student Jessica Gottschalk to SC4’s campus.

The Imlay City High School graduate first enrolled at SC4 in 2002, earning her Associate of Arts in 2006. She recently came back to the college to earn an Associate of Applied Arts & Sciences in General Business and is taking advantage of the college’s TRIO program, among other campus opportunities.

“A friend of mine spoke highly of the TRIO program, so I thought I would check it out,” Gottschalk said. “I like the tutoring option and the lab dedicated to just TRIO students. Both resources are major advantages.”

She added, “I would recommend TRIO to a classmate, particularly if they were feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of subjects that they were required to take. I was most concerned with Excel Spreadsheets and Federal Income Tax classes, and it helped to know that there is a tutor available that is a practicing accountant.”

In addition to the TRIO program, Gottschalk is grateful for the assistance she has received across SC4’s campus.

“I am thankful for all the amazing staff members that take the time to get to know the students and make sure that we are aware of all the resources available to us,” she said. “Many instructors will go the extra mile to make sure that we understand the course material, and that helps immensely.”

Gottschalk, who also credits her personal support system made up of family and friends, said she appreciates SC4’s many learning spaces.

“The Experience Center and Natural Science Museum in the Clara E. Mackenzie building is my favorite place on campus, other than the library,” she said. “I’m not taking any science classes, but I love science and I will make detours to wander through there from time to time.”

Moving forward, Gottschalk is excited about a number of potential options after earning her degree from SC4.

“I’m considering pursuing additional degrees in accounting and business management,” she said. “I have been interested in opening a bookstore downtown for quite some time, and that’s still a thought and possible goal. For now, though, I will be looking for work in bookkeeping, payroll and any other office type jobs to put this degree to use.”

TRIO student finds a new path forward at SC4

Employed for more than 10 years installing commercial fences, Thomas Short learned he was without a job when his company went under.

“I had to start over,” Short said. “I tried to find another steady job but a lot of the outdoor jobs I was qualified for are not steady and can end at any time.”

Due to the loss of his financial stability, Short says he began heading down a rough path, abusing substances and making bad decisions.

“After I lost my house, I was staying at my mother’s house and, with every day getting worse than the previous day, I knew something had to change,” he said. “I thought about what kind of example I was setting for my children and decided that I would show them the example that I want them to follow.”

Short set out to earn his G.E.D, which took about three or four months. He then was asked if he was going to pursue college.

“That was something I had never thought about,” Short said. “Again thinking about my children, I decided to show them that ‘Dad can do it and so can you.’”

Short enrolled at St. Clair County Community College in 2018 and applied for the TRIO program.

“The last time I attended any kind of school was in the eighth grade,” he said. “When I came to college, I was super nervous about the process and had no clue how a system like this was supposed to work. I heard that TRIO was known for its academic planning.”

Since then, TRIO has helped Short plan and register for classes and generally stay on track. TRIO also provided support services that Short never anticipated.

“TRIO made me feel like part of something bigger than myself,” Short said. “They gave me confidence, and I feel the self-confidence I gained reflected directly into my grades. Trio took the butterflies and self-doubt out of being a brand-new college student, and I am sincerely grateful for the program.”

In addition to the TRIO program, Short says he’s very thankful for the support he’s found in his SC4 professors.

“I have been honored to learn from the most caring and helpful professors that a student could ask for,” he said. “The one-on-one attention has really shown the advantage of a community college. I am grateful for all of my professors, but a few that really stand out for me: Professor Lubbers, who taught me to be more outgoing as a student; Instructor Gentry, who taught me that if I do something great don’t be afraid to let people know that I’ve done something great; and Professor Forsgren and Professor Collard, who challenged my way of thinking and pushed me to challenge myself harder than I ever thought I was capable of.”

Thanks to support from his professors and TRIO, Short continues his forward momentum toward a new career.

“My goal is to get into a steady career in technology so I won’t have to worry about where my children’s next meal will come from,” he said. “Also, part of the reason I started college was to provide a good example for my children to follow and learn from. The ultimate goal is to ready my children for a better future than I was on the way to providing them before. Now here I am, full speed ahead and will never look back.”