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Internationally based alumna zeroes in on future as national security analyst, credits St. Clair County Community College start

Marissa Hartley

Marissa Hartley is less than a year away from completing her master’s program in International Security at the University of Bristol in England, and zeroed in on becoming a national security analyst or defense contractor.

But when she came to St. Clair County Community College in 2011, she was still trying to figure out what she wanted to do.

“SC4 gave me the opportunity to explore multiple career paths and degree disciplines while staying close to home and my work at the time,” said Hartley, who started as a dual-enrolled high school student before enrolling full time in 2013. “I changed my career path at least seven times while I attended SC4, and that’s something I was able to do because of the way SC4 structures their transferable associate programs. Because of SC4, I was able to have two of my four years as an undergraduate completed debt free, without losing any quality of education.”

After graduating from the college in 2015, Hartley transferred to the University of Kentucky and earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies. She is currently enrolled in the master’s program at the University of Bristol, with her dissertation due in September. Her master’s degree would be awarded in February 2019.

While she says that has all her attention at the moment, a career with the U.S. government or a private defense contractor is her goal.

While at St. Clair County Community College, she said she not only was able to eventually find a path forward, but also gained confidence as a writer, as she won the Patterns Magazine Eleanor Matthews Award for writing in 2015.

She also found a love for volunteering.

“While at SC4, I became a member of Phi Theta Kappa honors society, and I was able to volunteer through that, which really ignited my love for volunteering,” she said. “After I transferred to the University of Kentucky, I volunteered for 4 Paws for Ability, where I fostered service dogs in training from five months until they were a year old. I absolutely loved every second of it, and I don’t know if I would have done it had I not gotten to experience volunteering at SC4.”

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