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Jackie Cornett of Gideon, Mo., says her experience at the Harry L. Crisp Bootheel Education Center (CBEC) in Malden, Mo., has not only given her a quality education, but may very well have saved her life.
While taking a science course, she was given a class assignment of donating blood. The Red Cross worker recognized a problem with her sample and suggested she consult a physician. Cornett took the advice and was diagnosed with a thyroid disease and cancer. She has since been cured of both illnesses and says she is thankful for her instructor and for the homework. Her appreciation doesn’t stop there, she says.
“Close-knit relationships are more difficult on a large campus. Here (the CBEC), I’m a person, not a number in a chair,” she says. “The office staff is great. Doug, Darlene, Lisa and Dr. Hux, you just can’t beat’em.”
While she was ill, Cornett says the staff contacted her instructors and made some allowances that helped her finish her classes on time.
“I was a mom before I was a college student, so when my son was to be inducted into the honor society, an instructor changed his class procedure, so I wouldn’t miss my test,” she said.
This kind of interest and care is why Cornett speaks so highly of the CBEC.
She’s always been on the Dean’s List and once took 15 credit hours in ITV classes alone. Her goal was to get four years of college completed in three years, and in December 2005, she will accomplish that goal.
What’s even more impressive is that Cornett has accomplished all that as the mother of two sons, a grandmother of one, and a cancer survivor.
Cornett says she is thrilled to be the first in her family to graduate from college and she hopes to set a precedent for other family members. She says her parents have been her biggest supporters.
What began as an uncertain situation a few years back has become an exciting lifetime change for Cornett. After working at a local manufacturing plant for 16 years, Cornett learned that her job was being eliminated. The company offered her either the option of another position or to pay for her to get a college education. She says she had always had a special interest in science and, without even considering any other institution, Cornett says she chose Southeast Missouri State University. She is pursuing a degree in general studies and says she hopes to counsel convicted felons at an area prison when she completed her degree.
Because she had responsibilities as an adult and mother, she began her education at the higher education center in Malden. The CBEC was conveniently located near her home and she says she never thought twice about her decision.
“The CBEC is so much closer that I can actually travel back and forth, sometimes several times a day, without tying up my whole day waiting between classes,” she says.
She says she’s also had great experiences with Web classes. She has gone to her son’s ballgames and, upon returning home, gone online and placed her homework assignments in a drop box for the instructor. Cornett loves to laugh and enjoy life. Between laughs, she’ll tell about one of the four cruises she’s taken in the past year and how once, while in Jamaica, she even went to the ship’s library, connected to the Web and turned in homework for an ITV class.
“Financial aid here (at the CBEC) has never been a problem for me. These people (the CBEC staff) are always so organized and efficient. It’s great,” she said. “When I do my part, they are there to follow up. When it’s time to pay the bill, my money is there."
There is quite a lot of advice Jackie could share with students, but she says the best advice is to start college while you’re young, because it’s easier. She says waiting until you’re put in a position as she was, is not impossible, but it is challenging.
“I would advise new students from a small town to avoid the culture shock of a large campus,” she said. “Here, students can become more prepared and feel more comfortable about the whole college procedure before entering the main campus.”
Then with a laugh and a great big smile, she suggests, “Take as many summer classes as you can. They are painful and horrible, but you can get them over with so fast.”