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I made an educated decision to grab new opportunities.
Alex Portwood, Business
Most days you can find Alex Portwood at basketball practice, in class or studying. As a student athlete who plans on a career in agriculture and business, Alex never dreamed that a geography class would lead to an adventure on the high seas and a life-changing experience.
“Geography can definitely take you all kinds of places,” says Professor Dean Butzow, an LLCC master teacher whose enthusiasm for his subject is infectious. Professor Butzow encouraged Alex to apply for a STEMSEAS experience last spring. Out of hundreds of U.S. college students who applied, Alex was one of eight chosen to make the May voyage from San Diego to Honolulu aboard the research vessel Oceanus.
First airplane ride and a trip across the sea
“Our mission was to collect and analyze sediment from the bottom of the ocean floor in two locations during our journey,” says Alex, who was the youngest student on the trip and the only one from the Midwest. He had never been on an airplane before, much less a ship traveling across the world’s largest and deepest ocean. “It took several hours for each core to reach the desired depth under the ocean floor. We then examined the different materials we found in each core sample.”
I made an educated decision to train for a new career.
Laurie Carney, Nursing
Laurie Carney was only 17 when she enlisted in the Army Reserves.
“To help pay for my college, I decided to join the military. My mom had to sign a waiver for me to join.” She spent six years in active duty and two years inactive duty in transportation detachment.
Laurie is currently studying nursing at LLCC. After completing her associate degree, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s in nursing and then continue her studies to become a nurse practitioner. Her goal is to work in drug and alcohol rehabilitation in the nursing field.
Her parents provide the inspiration for her career path. “Addiction never goes away. A person fights it his or her entire life. My mom became the director of the recovery center she went through, so I often attended meetings with them as I was growing up. I saw how hard they worked to maintain sobriety and how they helped others through recovery and rehabilitation. A huge part of my life was watching my parents help others.”
“My mom is going to be a nurse!”
Since 2008, Laurie has been working as a certified nurse assistant (CNA), with five of those years in hospice care for a home health and hospice agency. She attends school during the day and works nights at HSHS St. John’s Hospital on the neurology floor. “It is not easy being a single mom who is going to school and working,” she says.
I made an educated decision not to follow the crowd.
Catherine Wittler, Honors Program
Two years ago I was just another high school senior doing high school senior things. I loved going to baseball games, hanging out with my friends, and shopping for a prom dress. However, one thing I didn’t love was thinking about my future.
All my friends knew exactly where they wanted to go and exactly what they wanted to do,
while I was struggling to make a decision. I figured I would follow my friends to some big school and eventually declare a major in something that could lead to a good job. However, my parents kept urging me to consider Lincoln Land, especially once they heard there was an Honors Program and scholarship opportunities.
The day everything changed
One day in April, my parents ran into my room holding a letter from the LLCC Foundation. Even though I had applied, I didn’t actually think I would receive anything. I opened the letter and learned that I was accepted into the Honors Program with a full tuition scholarship; I saw my parents’ excited faces. At that moment I knew that there was no logical reason for me not to go to Lincoln Land. I had received a scholarship and was undecided on a major, so I figured I would just push through two years at community college and then have some real fun.
I made an educated decision to earn a degree without debt.
Tayo Ajenifuja, Pre-Clinical Lab Science
Tayo plans to become a doctor, and has his sights set on neurosurgery and research. He’s applying to Harvard, Columbia, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania, among other prestigious universities.
Tayo knows his goals are going to take him a long time to accomplish. He also knows that starting at LLCC has given him a chance to obtain the first two years of his college career without debt.
Desire to help others
Tayo grew up in a family where his parents were often ill. This weighed on him but it also fueled his passion to help others.
“My experiences significantly increased my desire to help others and achieve my goals. That is why I want a career in medicine and research.”
I made an educated decision to graduate without debt.
Zach Longhta says he has always been “big into sports,” playing football, basketball and baseball at New Berlin High School. While there he set his sights on attending a university with one of the most popular sports programs in the country: Ole Miss (University of Mississippi). He’s currently a senior there, majoring in exercise science, with plans to go to graduate school to study physical therapy.
But before transferring to Ole Miss, Zach earned an associate degree at LLCC, saving thousands of dollars in tuition costs. And, even smarter, he got a jump start on that associate degree while still in high school.
“I’m very thankful I was able to graduate with an associate degree and transfer to Ole Miss with no debt,” says Zach.
First Semester program
Zach participated in LLCC’s “First Semester” program and gained a semester’s worth of college credit during his senior year in high school. He had enough credits to graduate from high school in December of his senior year, but he still wanted to participate in high school sports and other activities.