SC4 student perseveres, gains confidence on path to nursing career

“This isn’t working for me. I want more. I want to go back to school.”

Amber Fields—a single, working mom and caretaker without a high school diploma—remembers the day in 2018 she officially set her sights on becoming a nurse.  

“I was working dead-end jobs and was tired and burned out,” Fields said. “I’ve always wanted to help people and needed a change. I started searching paths, first to earn a GED. I came across 2GEN Learning Center and was met with immediate encouragement, love, and the support I didn’t even know I needed. It was my first step in becoming a nurse and I didn’t have to take it alone.”

2GEN, which “moves families toward economic security by improving educational attainment and addressing the non-academic barriers hindering success,” helped Fields get started.

“My son attended with me, attending developmental child care,” the mom of three said. “It took me about five to six months to pass, but I got my GED in February 2019.”

From there, Fields turned her focus to enrolling at St. Clair County Community College (SC4) and applying to its Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program.

“I filled out a lot of scholarship applications thanks to the help and support of my 2GEN family and the Community Foundation,” she said. “I was surprised to learn that I ended up getting every scholarship I filled out!”

Fields enrolled at SC4 beginning in fall 2019, taking prerequisite courses needed for the nursing program. She applied and was accepted into the nursing program in 2021, but had some difficulty in one class in particular.

“Unfortunately, I ended up failing the class,” said Fields, who had also started work as a full-time nurse aide at McLaren Port Huron. “That meant I had to wait until the next year to reapply to the program. So that’s what I did.”

She persevered and restarted her journey last fall. Since then, she’s continued on her path and even has been recognized for her efforts in the program. In April 2023, she was selected as the winner of the Faculty Memorial Award continuing student, an honor chosen by the SC4 faculty and presented at the Student Recognition Ceremony.

“I’ve gotten so much confidence going back to school and going to SC4,” she said. “The classes are small and you get really close with the professors. They know you and are very willing to help you through issues and with problems.”

Fields expects to graduate from SC4 with her ADN in 2024—and already is looking into where to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“Nothing worthwhile is easy, you just have to keep moving,” Fields said. “My dreams are coming true. I’m looking forward to heading into a rewarding career as an RN.”

For more information about applying to SC4 and registering for courses, contact the SC4 Admissions team at (810) 989-5571 or For more information about financial aid and scholarships—including Michigan Reconnect, a last-dollar scholarship program that pays for adult learners 25 and older to attend SC4 for free or at a reduced cost—contact SC4 Financial Aid at or call (810) 989-5530.

Photo credit: 2GEN Learning Center

Free and reduced tuition opportunities at SC4

St. Clair County Community College tuition is a fraction of the cost of four-year institutions and a smart step in earning college credits toward a degree or transfer. Still, we understand concerns about paying for college. That’s why we wanted to make sure you’re aware of all the ways you may be able to attend SC4 for free or at a reduced rate. 

For most of the following programs and options, students will need to complete the FAFSA at for consideration. SC4’s FAFSA Federal School Code is 002310.

  • Scholarships – SC4 awarded nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in scholarships to students in 2021-22.
  • Dual enrollment – Dual enrollment allows students to begin taking free dual enrollment classes in the 9th grade and continue to take up to 10 dual enrollment courses overall in grades 9-12.
  • Middle colleges – High school students can earn free college credits through Blue Water Middle College (BWMC) and Career and Technical Middle College (CTMC). Students begin their junior year and remain connected to their home high schools—with full participation in all high school sports, band, graduation ceremonies, etc. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree at no cost through one additional year of study.
  • Michigan Achievement Scholarship – Beginning with the high school Class of 2023, the Michigan Achievement Scholarship is available to students in the 2023-24 school year.
  • Michigan Reconnect Scholarship – Michigan Reconnect is a last-dollar scholarship program that pays for students 25 and older to attend their in-district community college and offers a large tuition discount if students attend an out-of-district community college.
  • Fostering Futures Scholarship – The Fostering Futures Scholarship provides scholarships to students who have experienced foster care in Michigan on or after age 13. Students must also demonstrate financial need to qualify.
  • Tuition Incentive Program – The Tuition Incentive Program encourages students to complete high school by providing college tuition assistance after graduation. Eligible students are those who have or have had Medicaid coverage for 24 months within a 36-month period as identified by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
  • Federal Pell and other grants (under “Grants” at link)- The Federal Pell Grant is a need-based grant program awarded to low and middle-income undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s or professional degree and are enrolled in an undergraduate degree program. The award range is set by the federal government each academic year and currently ranges from $672-$6,495. More grants are listed at as well.   

Additional assistance may be provided through Veterans services, employer programs, external scholarships, loans and payment plans, work-study opportunities.

Visit for more information. Contact our financial aid experts—who are committed to helping students navigate processes and find the best methods of aid, payment plans and more—at or (810) 989-5530 with questions

Fall 2023 registration now open

Registration for fall semester is now underway at St. Clair County Community College. Fall semester courses—which are offered online and on-campus— begin Aug. 21.

Students interested in earning affordable credits toward a degree or transfer pathway, as well as those community members interested in learning more about a particular topic or passion, can now enroll to secure their classes.

“SC4 can help you get there—regardless of where you’re headed,” said Jessica Brown, vice president of DEI and Admissions. “SC4 alumni are engineers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, welders, scientists, public safety officers, designers, managers, entrepreneurs and much more. SC4 credits transfer easily and are a fraction of the cost compared to four-year institutions. Plus, we offer a wide array of support services and exciting campus life experiences.”

A full list of courses and sections is available at, and new students can learn how to apply and register at Current students can register via the SC4 Portal at

Dual enrollment and early/middle college options are available for current high school students to earn college credits at no cost. However, if cost is still a factor for other types of students, SC4 financial aid experts stand ready to assist.

“Our goal is to help students understand what support is out there so they can focus on what matters most—their classes,” said Jo Cassar, SC4 executive director of Financial Assistance and Veteran Services. “Most of our students receive financial aid, through a combination of federal, state and private funding sources, grants and scholarships. There’s potential support out there, but you’ll never get it unless you fill out a FAFSA and apply.”

New this year is the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, which provides eligible high school graduates (starting with the Class of 2023) with up to $2,750 if they attend a community college, per year. Additionally, Michigan Reconnect pays for qualifying students who are 25 years old and older to attend SC4 tuition-free.

For more information about applying to SC4 and registering for courses, contact the SC4 Admissions team at (810) 989-5571 or For more information about financial aid and scholarships, send an email to or call (810) 989-5530 with questions.

Scholarships available for SC4 students

St. Clair County Community College is accepting scholarship applications from students who plan to attend SC4 for the 2023-24 academic year.

SC4 has many scholarship opportunities available. Some are geared toward students who plan to study a specific subject, while others are intended for students from a particular town or high school. There are also a number of awards open to students based on academic performance and extracurricular activities.

“Whatever your background, there’s likely a scholarship that you are qualified to apply for,” said Executive Director of Financial Assistance and Veteran Services Josephine Cassar.

Visit to apply for available scholarships (after applying to SC4), including SC4 scholarships and scholarships through external sources. Apply for multiple scholarships by filling out just one online application. Many scholarships require a completed FAFSA, which can be submitted at

SC4, the SC4 Foundation, community groups and private donors offer numerous scholarships to fit nearly all student academic records, backgrounds and financial situations.

The priority deadline to apply for scholarships is Sunday, March 12.

For details, call the Financial Aid Office at (810) 989-5530 or email

Gov. Whitmer Launches Website to Help Students Apply for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, Save Thousands

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer launched a new webpage to help the graduating class of 2023 apply for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship and lower their cost of college by thousands of dollars a year. Students should talk to their parents or guardian, gather documents, and fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible to save up to $8,250 over three years as they earn their associate degree at a community college, up to $20,000 over five years at a private college, or up to $27,500 over five years at a public university. 

“For too long, high costs have been a barrier to higher education,” said Governor Whitmer. “I am so excited that we worked across the aisle to establish the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, lowering the cost of college by thousands of dollars a year for the vast majority of graduating seniors, starting with the class of 2023. All students need to do to get their Michigan Achievement Scholarship is fill out their FAFSA. I encourage every student going to community college, private college, or a public university in Michigan to speak with their parents or guardian, get their documents together, and fill out their FAFSA to save thousands of dollars.” 

“The Michigan Achievement Scholarship will make additional education possible for the majority of Michigan’s new college students after they earn their high school diploma or equivalency,” said Sarah Szurpicki, director of the Office of Sixty by 30. “This scholarship is game-changing for Michigan families. Creating more pathways to education beyond high school means creating more pathways for Michigan students, families, and businesses to succeed.” 

Michigan Achievement Scholarship  

To make college more affordable for families, grow Michigan’s talent pool, and get the state closer to achieving its Sixty by 30 goal, the governor signed bipartisan legislation creating the Michigan Achievement Scholarship. This legislation builds on Governor Whitmer’s promise in 2019 to pass Michigan Reconnect and Michigan Opportunity Scholarships to reach the state’s Sixty by 30 goal of 60% of adults with a skill certificate or college degree by 2030.  

Starting with the class of 2023, graduates are eligible for annual scholarships up to:    

·         $2,750 at a community college 

·         $4,000 at a private college or university  

·         $5,500 at a public university  

The scholarships are renewable for up to 3 years at a community college and up to 5 years at a private college or public university, totaling up to: 

·         $8,250 at community college 

·         $20,000 at a private college or university 

·         $27,500 at a public university 

Students will be eligible if their family demonstrates financial need when they complete the FAFSA. The Michigan Achievement Scholarship will cover:    

·         94% of students attending community colleges     

·         79% of students attending a private college or university     

·         76% of students attending a public university    

“The Michigan Achievement Scholarship will help more students pursue a college degree or certificate and start their careers with less debt, allowing for greater future economic and social mobility and prosperity,” said Dr. Deborah A. Snyder, President of St. Clair County Community College. “We are grateful to Governor Whitmer and our legislators for prioritizing this scholarship for Michigan residents.” 

For more information on how to get your Michigan Achievement Scholarship, visit

SC4 signs new agreements to help students easily transfer to four-year institutions

To kick off National Transfer Student Week, St. Clair County Community College (SC4) today announced new transfer agreements that will make it easier for community college students to seamlessly transfer to four-year institutions to complete their bachelor’s degrees. SC4 has entered into agreements in the areas of general applied science, applied business, healthcare and information technology.

SC4 is one of 25 community colleges to enter into the new transfer agreements with 10 four-year colleges and universities across Michigan. Collectively, the agreements include 529 associate degree programs offered by community colleges and 44 bachelor’s degrees at four-year institutions.

“The majority of SC4 students transfer to four-year institutions,” said Dr. Deborah A. Snyder, president of SC4. “These agreements, in addition to others already established here at SC4, will help provide more seamless pathways for our students, which will minimize loss of credits and potential debt.”

National Transfer Student Week focuses on eliminating common transfer barriers and recognizing the diverse student needs and identities within transfer populations. Michigan community colleges are working to break down barriers by creating additional options for current students as well as associate degree holders that are already in the workforce to continue their education.

“Employers increasingly see the need for their associate degree-trained employees to return to college for a bachelor’s degree,” said Erica Lee Orians, executive director of the Michigan Center for Student Success at the Michigan Community College Association. “These agreements provide a simplified pathway with multiple university partners across the state to ensure that students can earn a bachelor’s degree.”

Participating four-year institutions will accept the full associate degrees, meaning there will not be a course-by-course evaluation for transferability. Additionally, these four-year institutions will accept credit for prior learning that was previously applied to the associate degree, which is a benefit for students with life experience in their field.

SC4 to host Financial Aid Night Oct. 26

Individuals, families and residents interested in learning about financial aid tips and opportunities can attend St. Clair County Community College’s Financial Aid Night at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, in the college’s Fine Arts Theatre.

“If you’re interested in earning credits, a degree or a certificate and want to learn more about federal, state and private funding sources and scholarships that might help you achieve your goals, this event is for you—no matter where you’re planning on heading to college,” said Executive Director of Financial Assistance and Services Josephine Cassar.

SC4’s tuition is about a third of the cost of four-year institutions, allowing students to reduce borrowing and incur less debt. Additionally, free tuition or assistance may be available through local school districts, middle college programs, Michigan Reconnect, Michigan Futures for Frontliners, the Federal Pell Grant, employer programs and more.

With the 2023-24 Federal Application for Free Student Aid (FAFSA) now available, the Oct. 26 event provides timely assistance for those interested in learning more about paying for college. Learn more about making college affordable at

SC4 alumni honor parents, support future generations with scholarships and grants

St. Clair County Community College (SC4) alumni Martha Foley and Dan Fredendall recently created the Therese A. Foley Student Assistance Fund and the Eileen M. and Lawrence D. Fredendall Scholarship Fund—as well as provided grants for the Challenger Learning Center at SC4 and other student support initiatives—to honor the lives and legacies of their parents.

“They were all such strong, selfless and caring role models,” said Martha, who met Dan at SC4 before they both transferred to Michigan State University. “They were committed to advancing the well-being of others within the Blue Water area. These scholarships and grants honor their work and ‘pay-it-forward’ commitment to others.”

Martha’s mother, Therese, was the youngest of 11 children from the east side of Detroit, who became a devoted mother of six, a registered nurse, and an environmental and public health activist, finishing her career as a clinical nursing instructor at SC4. Her father, Maurice was altruistic and driven, attended Assumption College in Windsor, Ontario after high school, served in the Navy during WWII, then finished his bachelor’s degree from Assumption after the war. After early jobs in the Fenton area, Maurice started working as a teacher. He taught middle school mathematics in Detroit and Port Huron schools for almost 35 years, served as supervisor of Fort Gratiot Township for eight years in the 1980s, and was active in the Society of St Vincent de Paul for decades.

Eileen Fredendall, born in Port Huron, was a committed mother of nine, a registered nurse and a community volunteer. Dan’s father, Lawrence, came to Port Huron from Iowa after high school. He served in the Army Air Corps during WWII and was the first in his family line to go to college. After marrying Eileen, he earned an associate degree from Port Huron Junior College (SC4) under the GI Bill while working full time. An entrepreneur, Lawrence owned or managed a variety of businesses and finished his career with Serve-All Appliance. He was most proud of his work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, including revitalizing the stores in the greater metro Detroit area, and was instrumental in launching the Blue Water Community Food Depot.

Their parents had similar backgrounds and experiences and, unbeknownst to Martha and Dan, they knew each other before Martha and Dan met. Both mothers attended three-year, hospital-based nursing degree programs as United States Cadet Nurse Corps, finishing just after WWII ended. Their fathers were both involved at their parish churches in community outreach and knew each other through their work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

“They all poured themselves out to others,” Dan said. “Whether that was in the hospital, the classroom, taking someone into their home, or in the community, they gave others the best of themselves, even when it may have been difficult. There was always someone else who needed more and they helped provide it.”

By creating these scholarships and grants through the SC4 Foundation held at the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, Martha and Dan are following in their parents’ footsteps and encouraging future generations to do the same. They both recognize that community college is an important bridge for many students to make the transition between high school graduation and success in a bachelor’s degree at the university level, particularly for a first-generation college student.

The Therese A. Foley Student Assistance Fund and the Eileen M. and Lawrence D. Fredendall Scholarship Fund will be awarded in perpetuity to SC4 students pursuing nursing or a STEM-related program. The grants will support access to missions at the Challenger Learning Center at SC4 as well as potential tuition assistance for disadvantaged students, Skip’s Corner Pantry support, ad hoc student assistance for one-time unanticipated events or housing support.

“We are beyond grateful to Martha and Dan for their generous support,” said Dr. Deborah A. Snyder, SC4 president. “It’s clear Martha and Dan’s parents were incredible individuals and role models for their families and communities. Thanks to their parents’ example, they are now doing the same for a whole new generation of students. The impact of their parents’ lives and work will continue to be felt for years to come.”

Community Foundation Vice President Jackie Hanton added, “Martha and Dan were thoughtful and impact-driven with their major gift. They were able to make a bigger impact on future students because they gifted stock. When appreciated stock is gifted, the donors do not have to pay capital gains tax. It is truly a win-win that will have lasting implications in the lives of so many future students.”

Dan and Martha recently visited SC4’s campus and reflected on their and Therese’s time there.

“That’s the first time we’ve been back to campus in a long time,” Martha said. “Back when Therese taught Nursing at the College, they learned by way of practicing on each other. She would be astonished and thrilled to see the technology and spaces in the Health Sciences Building. It’s an impressive facility.”

For more information, contact the Financial Aid Office at or (810) 989-5530.

Alumnus Robert G. Sargent, Ph.D., establishes scholarship fund to support students pursuing engineering

Robert G. Sargent, Ph.D.

Future St. Clair County Community College students will benefit from a new endowment fund held at the Community Foundation thanks to a gift from Robert G. Sargent, Ph.D., an SC4 alumnus and professor emeritus at Syracuse University, to provide two scholarships each year to students who plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

“I attended SC4 in 1954 through 56 when it was Port Huron Junior College,” Sargent said. “I came from a working-class family and didn’t have any money to pursue an education at a university. I had decided to obtain a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering because I enjoyed math and science in high school and had received several awards for my electrical projects in 4-H. Port Huron Junior College provided the opportunity I needed to get an outstanding education for the first two years of pursuing my engineering degree.”

Sargent is now known as a world-renowned pioneer and authority in simulation work, receiving many career awards and presenting at lectures in the United States and around the world.

He, along with his 1950’s SC4-to-U-M engineering alumni peers, recently visited SC4 and took a campus tour with Bonnie DiNardo, SC4 executive director of community and public relations.

“We hadn’t been to the college in years and were very impressed by the size of the campus and the technology being used, especially in STEM-based facilities such as the Health Sciences Building, the Experience Center and the Challenger Learning Center,” Sargent said.

He added, “None of us probably would have gone to college without SC4. There are endless possibilities in STEM careers—especially in engineering fields—and a tremendous need. People can have a great life, income and support. Community colleges like SC4 can continue to play a huge role, and scholarships can help students pursue such fields for years to come.”

Sargent has established The Robert G. Sargent Scholarship Fund through the SC4 Foundation held at the Community Foundation that helps SC4 engineering students with financial need who plan to transfer on to a university to further pursue their engineering education.

“Helping such a distinguished alumni, like Dr. Sargent, plan a major gift to the college was a pleasure. He knew exactly what he wanted to do for the students and I was happy to help him finalize a qualified charitable distribution that meant his gift was not only very meaningful and impactful but provided a tax savings for him as well,” said Jackie Hanton, Vice President for the Community Foundation of St. Clair County.

Sargent graduated from St. Clair High School after attending a one-room schoolhouse located in St. Clair Township where he was the only pupil in some of his grades. He was the first in his family to attend college.

While a student at SC4, Sargent participated on the tennis team, in Circle K, bowling and with the Letterman’s club—and worked multiple jobs to pay his college tuition. He also connected with a large group of about 12 like-minded students with whom he’d stay in touch throughout his lifetime.

Sargent earned an Associate of Science degree from SC4 before transferring to the University of Michigan where he roomed with fellow SC4 alumni. “All of us who went on from SC4 to U-M together were well prepared,” said Sargent, who continued to juggle jobs while a full-time U-M student.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Sargent accepted a position at Hughes Aircraft where he received his first exposure to digital computers. He returned to school after two and a half years in the industry to pursue a Ph.D. in simulation.

After receiving his doctoral degree, Sargent joined Syracuse University to participate in their new Systems and Information Science graduate program. Shortly after his arrival, Sargent became involved in contractual research between the United States Air Force and Syracuse University. His work in simulation was sponsored by both institutions, creating an environment and relationship in which he could foster significant contributions to the field throughout his career.

“We thank Dr. Sargent for his generous gift to help SC4 students and for his continued advocacy of community college pathways for transfer students and degrees,” said Dr. Deborah Snyder, SC4 president. “SC4 alumni such as Dr. Sargent are doing remarkable work. His distinguished career in simulation has impacted countless individuals, here in Michigan and around the world.”

SC4 students can apply for the Sargent scholarships for engineers beginning in 2023. Selection will be based on financial need with a preference for students transferring to a university to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

The SC4 Foundation connects donors with opportunities to support St. Clair County Community College in whatever way fits their interests. Whether it’s supporting students, opportunities on campus or enhancements of learning spaces, the SC4 Foundation is proud to support our community’s college.

St. Clair County Community College and the Community Foundation bring to the area a combined 175 years of service to the community in education and philanthropy. Since 2018, the collaborative philanthropic partnership between the organizations allows donors to have an even greater impact on both SC4 students and the community.

SC4 to host virtual Financial Aid Night Oct. 12

St. Clair County Community College will host its annual Financial Aid Night at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, via a virtual Zoom meeting.

Open to students, families and all area residents, the event connects SC4’s financial aid experts with the community to share valuable information about financial aid processes, opportunities and tips to maximize the money students can receive.

The 2022-23 Federal Application for Free Student Aid (FAFSA) opened Oct. 1, so students can now begin applying for next year. The event provides timely assistance for anyone who wants to learn more about paying for college. While Financial Aid Night is hosted by SC4, students and families interested in any college are welcome to attend.

The presentation will provide information on all type of financial aid, including loans, grants, and scholarships. SC4 representatives will explain how to apply for financial aid and give tips for obtaining maximum awards. A question-and-answer period will also be available.

“If you’re interested in earning a degree or certificate and want to learn more about federal, state and private funding sources as well as scholarships that might help you achieve your goals, this event is for you,” said Director of Financial Assistance and Services Josephine Cassar.

For those interested in attending, registration is required to receive the Zoom link by emailing

Learn more about making college affordable at