With misty eyes, Bonita Jackson tells how the biggest influence in her life is her father. With only a second-grade education, he has owned a successful business for more than 55 years and provided for his family without assistance. His daughter plans to follow his example and go even further by graduating from college with a major in business administration.
Bonita was raised and graduated from high school in Sikeston, Mo. She is now on her way to becoming the first of her siblings to graduate from college by recently completing her university studies courses at the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center (SAHEC). She now is attending Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau and has achieved a 3.2 grade point average.
“SAHEC was a great stepping stone for me because now that I’m at the University campus, I feel like a real college student and I’m better prepared for it,” Jackson says.
Like many other students at the area higher education centers, Bonita’s college status is non- traditional. She and her partner care for three children, ages 8, 13 and 16, while she works full time for Hab-care Inc. Her dedication to giving her family the time they need, especially on weekends, is why she praises the opportunity offered at SAHEC.
“My children are most important in my life and I know that my education will benefit them as much as myself. Keeping up my life as a mother, provider and student isn’t easy, but they understand the importance and are as pleased and proud as I am.”
Being a multi-tasker and self-motivated, Jackson says that ITV and online classes have proven to be essential in keeping up with her goals. She explains that the classes are so convenient and efficient, grades are posted often, and the time-consuming, long- distance driving is eliminated. Jackson says she uses the Web nearly every day for general information and to register for classes, as well as using the student e-mail to turn in assignments and to stay in touch with the main campus.
“These types of classes and resources help me to get more accomplished in a day,” she says.
Jackson also is goal oriented and confident, but says she didn’t always have those attributes. After waiting ten years for her children to become school age, before furthering her education, she now believes she would never have made it this far had she started on the main campus of Southeast. She says it was frightening for her to have been out of school for so long, not knowing anything about campus life or how to maneuver at such a large place.
“Being at a smaller facility made me feel more comfortable and more confident about getting around. It’s easier being in one building moving from floor to floor than moving from building to building on a large campus.” Her suggestion to new students and non-traditional students is to make the smaller facility their first step in becoming adjusted to college life.
Another source of confidence for her, she says, is the support of SAHEC director, Judy Buck. Jackson describes Buck as being wonderful, helpful and very friendly to everyone on campus.
“She actually comes to me, looking out for me by offering me opportunities of advancement,” Bonita says. Jackson says the great staff at Sikeston make it their goal to help a student plan course hours around individual needs, help with financial aid and give any other assistance that helps get your education started.
After completing a degree in accounting or finance, Jackson says she is interested in getting her masters degree or a CPA license.
Whatever her decision, her ultimate goal is to have a career that encourages good work ethics and a positive work atmosphere, no doubt another example of her father’s influence.