I didn’t think college was for me.

In high school I took secretarial courses. I began working, got married and had a child. A few years later I found myself a single parent.

That’s when I really started thinking about my future and what I could create for my daughter and myself.

I decided to start taking classes at a local community college, just to get ahead at work. Taking those few classes started me on the path to a career in higher education and better life than I could have ever imagined for myself and my daughter.

April is Community College month. I’m thankful for Gov. Jim Rhodes and other leaders in the 1960s who had the vision to create accessible colleges within 50 miles of every citizen of Ohio. For me and thousands of others in the decades since, that vision was a saving grace.

Today, technical and community colleges offer a full array of classes that transfer to four-year institutes as well as programs that lead to great paying jobs and careers in two-years or less.

Taking that first step was daunting, but it set my family and me on a pathway to prosperity we couldn’t have imagined. “The good life” as we say at our house.

I’m proud of the education I received here in Ohio that set me on the direction to lead a community college.

Since its founding in the late-1960s, Hocking College has evolved the vision Gov. Rhodes and others set forth. We still focus on technical and hands-on learning. We partner with businesses and groups in the area and throughout the state to make sure we offer programs in fields that need workers.

We’ve introduced certificates that can be completed in 16 weeks or less that could lead you to careers in fields like welding or truck driving. Our transfer agreements let you seamlessly transition to four-year universities to complete a bachelor’s degree. For high school students, our College Credit Plus program allows them to start their college career before they even graduate, and it’s free to these families. Last year, Hocking College saved Ohio families more than $1.2 million in college costs through CCP.

But we wouldn’t be a community college without our associate degree programs. Take it from me, that degree will change your life. The return on your investment is unbelievable. If you take a job in the field you studied at Hocking College, you’ll usually earn the entire cost of the degree within six months.

So how do you live “the good life”? The same way I did. The same way my kid did. And the same way lots of other folks just like us do every year. Find your way to a community or technical college. And if you choose Hocking College, we’ll help you find your path to the good life. A life that you can create for yourself. A life where you can own a nice car or truck, own a home, take a vacation, enjoy your work and your life, and be part of a community.

So take that first step to the good life and reach out to your local community college. You have nothing to lose and a great life to gain.

Dr. Betty Young has been president of Hocking College since 2014. She grew up in a hollow just down the road.

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