Three students with distinctly different academic paths, are attending McCook Community College this semester in part because of the generosity of strangers they've never met. These students have distinctly differing motives that affect the locomotion of their lives to MCC: bugs, bucks, and a buddy.
Dorothy Schneider, is a 2013 graduate of Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, N.C. She spent time growing up in San Jose, California. She's 1,477 miles from home and she is at MCC for one reason: bugs.
Tanner Cline is an undeclared freshman from Callaway, 130 miles from home. He came to McCook because a buddy making a college visit convinced Tanner to tag along.
Andrea Miller attended high school 1.1 miles from the MCC campus. She came because of the bucks.
The one thing these three freshmen have in common is that three months after their high school graduation, attending McCook Community College made the most sense and thanks to scholarships, these three freshmen will start their careers without placing undue financial strain on themselves or their families.
Dorothy Schneider's father gave her a book about dinosaurs for her sixth birthday. From that day forward the only thing she ever wanted to do with her life was to become a scientist.
"I'll always love paleontology and dinosaurs but when it got right down to it, over the years I found I'd rather study something that is here and now and alive -- like bugs," she said.
By the time her senior year rolled around she had narrowed her specific interest within the science world to that of an entomologist – she also tried to narrow her college choice to the best fitting entomology program.
"There are 39 colleges in the country that have entomology programs," she said. After looking at all of them she whittled down the list. Some were too expensive; some required prerequisites she couldn't obtain; some just had "impossibly lame web sites."
The best suited entomology school for her was The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, but she couldn't really afford it. So she began to look for cost-efficient ways to make her way to UNL.
Not knowing anything about Nebraska she searched the internet for two-year schools and then ones that had dorms, and had a strong science program in which she could transfer her science credits to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A few days before the dorms opened, she flew from Raleigh to a state she'd never even visited before and set off for a school for which she wasn't even signed up for classes.
This semester Dorothy is enrolled in 15 hours including: expository writing 1, general biology, general chemistry, intro to psychology and college algebra.
"The biology and chemistry labs are great, they are everything I hoped they would be, and the teachers are great," Dorothy said.
"One of my first impressions about the people on campus and really people all over town is that they are really friendly. I'm from the big city of Raleigh and I'm used to walking right past a stranger. Here in McCook people stop and say hello, I know it's just a little thing, but it does make a difference."
To help offset the first-year costs, Dorothy did receive an academic student scholarship, and she also spends 10 hours a week as a work-study in the science department.
"When I was seven, I caught crane-flies, put them in cups and sketched them. As an eighth grader I visited the entomology department at University of California-Davis and saw some amazing specimens and artifacts," Dorothy said. "I've had a passion for bugs at an early age and as a freshman in Nebraska, MCC is giving me the chance to make my lifelong dream a reality."
Within the first week of classes, a girl in the dorms knocked on her door because she learned that Dorothy was "into bugs."
"She had found a praying mantis and managed to slide it onto an index card. She wanted to know if I wanted it… YEAH! I took several photos of it and a week or so later, people were bringing me cicadas, and cicada shells. This is a great place!"
When she isn't studying bugs or attending classes she said her favorite hobbies are reading, theater and video games.
"There's not a whole lot of productive things I can do with video games so I try to focus on reading and theater," she said.
She recently performed in the MCC production of "Leaving Iowa."
Tanner Cline is an undeclared freshman from Callaway, 130 miles from home. When his buddy convinced him to make a college visit to the MCC campus, Tanner realized the potential importance of his impromptu visit.
His buddy ended up attending North Platte Community College, and thanks to him and scholarships -- including McCook College Foundation Scholarship and Walsh-Brady Scholarship, and local scholarships -- Tanner believes he'll attend his first semester of college for a maximum of $200 for 15-credit hours of tuition, room and board and other fees.
"Some of my scholarships won't kick in until my first semester of grades are posted, so once all the MCC and my local scholarships filter through the system, there's a good chance I won't have any out-of-pocket expenses," he said.
A whim brought him to MCC, but affordability kept Tanner here.
"My buddy told me about MCC and that most of his general education credits would transfer, and then I decided there was really no reason why I should pay thousands of dollars more to attend college somewhere else."
This semester he is taking 16 hours of classes including: introduction to theater, statistics, biology, wood design, and sociology. In addition he was invited to attend a leadership class on the invitation of Vice President Andy Long.
He plans to have 32 general credits at the end of the year. Eventually he plans to transfer to the University of Nebraska-Kearney and major in information technology.
He admits dorm life was one of the largest adjustments he's had to make on campus.
"I'm an only child used to a quiet house, so it has been a change for me," he admits. "But the main thing I had to change from high school was studying – and how to do a lot of it."
At Callaway, he was involved in every sport and still enjoys working out either in the Ed Thomas YMCA swimming pool, weight room or when his schedule allows, the MCC Events Center.
He's a member of the MCC Campus Crusade for Christ.
Andrea Miller is a 2013 McCook High School graduate. She is an undeclared freshman from Culbertson, but financial enticements from MCC made her choice of college an easy one.
Thanks to more than $10,000 in scholarships, including McCook College Foundation Scholarship, and Walsh-Brady money, as well as several others. Andrea is attending college for free.
"It is really nice not to have to worry about college finances," she said, "I love this area and don't really have any desire to leave here so the opportunity to use these scholarships and stay close to home just makes the most sense."
She is taking 16 hours this semester including: biology, speech, intermediate algebra, English, and sociology.
She admits that while still living at home she misses some of the on-campus activities.
"It is harder to meet new friends when you're not living here but I've been trying to get involved with campus organizations," she said. She has joined S.M.A.C (Students Making Active Choices) and was involved in a photography scavenger hunt earlier this semester as well as Phi Theta Kappa.
When she is not attending classes, she works as a waitress at Hillside Perk in Culbertson, and loves running and scrapbooking in her spare time.
"I just love it here at MCC," she said. "The teachers are great, since it's a small school they get to know you as individuals, at a bigger college I wouldn't want to speak out in a class. I feel a lot more comfortable talking to teachers here."
Her introduction to MCC came when she was 16 and took psychology and trained nurse's aide classes. While she is undeclared she is interested in pursuing psychology and possibly a career in counseling and knows that MCC has the necessary resources to help her decide on the best career path.
Attending college for free and close to home made MCC the only choice for Andrea.
The McCook College Foundation has many scholarships that are available for McCook Community College students. Application/essays can be picked up at McMillen Hall or at the Foundation office at 206 E. First.
"The Foundation's mission of support is possible because of the many loyal supporters who have contributed to the Foundation over the years," said Janet Werkmeister, Director of Administration for the McCook College Foundation.
"Students' dreams are fulfilled, their lives are changed, doors to future opportunity are opened, and our community is strengthened because of the financial support they receive from the McCook College Foundation."
To contact the foundation call Janet Werkmeister at 308-345-5233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.