"How Community College is Changing My Life"

Rebecca Hines, Rock Valley College
2012 Paul Simon Student Essay Contest Winner

"Mom, did you make any friends today?" my 9-year-old daughter asked after my first day at Rock Valley College. "No, Sweetie, I did not." My 12-year-old son had a more astute observation: "Aren't you embarrassed to be there? I mean, you are older than the other students." I was embarrassed and quite self-conscious for about 15 minutes.


Rock Valley College student Rebecca Hines (second from left) accepts her $500 Paul Simon Student Essay Contest scholarship from RVC president Jack Becherer, her daughter Hannah, and ICCTA president Jim Ayers.

Rock Valley College student Rebecca Hines (second from left) accepts her $500 Paul Simon Student Essay Contest scholarship from RVC president Jack Becherer, her daughter Hannah, and ICCTA president Jim Ayers.
That embarrassment quickly made way for enthusiasm and the realization that I was finally taking the next step toward bettering my life.

"Going back to school" was merely an idea I had been mulling over for months, and when it was time to take action, Rock Valley College stood out as a great fit for me. The reasonable cost and location of the main campus meant that I could attend classes without adversely affecting my family's finances. Their helpful staff guided me through the sign-up process, and before I knew it, "going back to school" had made the leap from idea to reality.
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My family noticed a change within weeks; I was happier, more organized, more focused. My workload forced me to manage my time more wisely and work more efficiently. My intellectual frustrations disappeared, as I was challenged by my professors and the class material. I felt confident, ready to take on new academic challenges and fill in my knowledge gaps.

However, the changes I've experienced run deeper than that. There is a renewed sense of curiosity and a desire to learn in our house not only for me, but also my children and husband. They see the value of a quality education; they see me study, of course, but they also share my excitement to learn more material, to open more doors. By demonstrating that a life filled with education is a rich life, I set the stage for my children to succeed in their chosen paths.

Without the excellent professors and great classes at Rock Valley College, it would have been difficult to pass these lessons on to my children. "Education is important" would have been just words, instead of a way of life they now see. The example I set sends a strong message: Pursue education with passion, and happiness will follow.


Rebecca Hines received a $500 scholarship for her winning essay, donated by the Illinois Community College System Foundation. For additional information on the Paul Simon Student Essay Contest, please contact Kim Villanueva at 1-800-454-2282, ext. 1.




Illinois Community College Trustees Association
401 E. Capitol Ave., Suite 200
Springfield, IL 62701-1711
217-528-2858 (phone)
217-528-8662 (fax)
ICCTA@communitycolleges.org (e-mail)
http://www.communitycolleges.org



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