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“Taking your kids to work” is a well known educational experience, but what about taking your kids to college?
That’s the situation for Ethel Turk, a mother of two daughters ages 22 and 24. All three women attend classes at the Sikeston Higher Education Center (SAHEC). At the age of 44, Ethel will begin her sophomore year this fall working towards a degree in business administration.
She always wanted to attend college after high school, but after beginning a family, she said she felt she couldn’t take care of them and make the commute back and forth between Southeast Missouri State University and Sikeston. Now, her only regret is that the higher education center wasn’t around in 1978, because her education would probably have already been completed.
“This facility encourages many people to continue their education instead of losing hope like I did all those years ago,” says Ethel.
After working a state job for more than 17 years, Ethel injured her back and was placed in a temporary office job. She loved the office work, and when her employer offered to pay for a college education that she could obtain in her hometown, she chose business. Her appreciation for such an opportunity is evident when she speaks about the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center (SAHEC).
“The Sikeston campus is great and is always improving for the benefit of the students,” says Ethel.
She adds that she is extremely excited about the replacement of her old nemesis, the computer. The Sikeston campus has plans to install more than $250,000 in new computers and accessories by this fall.
Through her own experience with her daughters, Ethel says she also believes that SAHEC helps the community by allowing young people to stay in the area instead of moving away to get an education.
Campus life is a wonderful encounter for her too. She has found that a smaller campus allows students to become better acquainted, which, in turn, makes students feel more comfortable about asking others about classes, instructors, financial aid and scholarships. Small size classes also help students feel more at ease with the instructors and staff at SAHEC.
“I enjoy the smaller classes and it impresses me how the staff and instructors know me by my first name,” she said. “But because of my love for learning, the size isn’t nearly as important to me as the competence of the instructors,” Ethel said.
Evidently, she is confident in the education she’s receiving, because she’s registered for 15 hours next semester.
Ethel is excited thinking about others who might read about her experience at SAHEC, knowing they may have seemingly forlorn dreams of getting a degree just as she did. She advises them to go do it, just jump out there and do it because it’s to your benefit and until you do you’ll never know what could have been.
“My daughters have talked about graduating with honors and making the Dean’s List, while I thought yeah, yeah, what’s the big deal. Then this past fall, everyone on campus started coming up and congratulating me and telling me how proud they are of me. I had made the Dean’s List and now I know it is a big deal.”
With expectations to graduate in 2008, Ethel’s plans are to own a business in the children’s entertainment field.