Non-traditional students earn degrees through Learning Centers

Joy Shultz of Wahoo and Dawn Thumser of Plattsmouth became the first students to graduate from Southeast Community College without ever setting foot on an SCC campus. Both utilized SCC’s learning centers in their respective communities to earn degrees in December.

Shultz earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in business. The 39-year-old had enrolled at SCC two previous times but never was able to finish a degree. Until now. She completed all of her classes online and in-person at the Learning Center in Wahoo.

“Going back to college can be overwhelming, but being at the learning center helped to take that feeling away,” Shultz said. “I also didn’t spend time finding parking, walking into class or trying to find my class. An added bonus is I stayed warm because I didn’t have to walk from the parking lot.”

Shultz worked next door to 536 N. Broadway, the location SCC selected in 2018 for its Learning Center, when she decided to enroll. Initially she thought she’d take some classes at the Learning Center, but would have to take the rest at an SCC campus. She soon found out she could take the classes in Lincoln via robot technology, which SCC secured through grants. Basically, she was the face of a robot on wheels, navigating classes in Lincoln while she stayed in Wahoo.

“I was very hesitant due to being nervous and unsure of how it all worked,” she said about the robots. “With the wonderful help of SCC staff, I was able to navigate to and from classes via robot. After the first few times of driving it and getting over the nervousness, I was hooked.”

Shultz learned a lot about herself as a student, too. She discovered that she achieved much better taking online classes than she thought she would. However, she also knew that math was one of her more challenging subjects, and she did better with those classes in-person. She encourages others to try this route.

“The biggest thing was flexibility, time and saving money,” she explained. “I was able to take classes as my schedule allowed, I didn’t have to drive an hour or so getting to and from, and I didn’t have to wait around for my next class to begin.”

Thumser found herself in a similar situation. The 53-year-old was taking classes at a for-profit college when she decided to check out the Learning Center at Plattsmouth. She took the Accuplacer test and started at SCC soon after.

“As soon as SCC opened, I went in and enrolled,” she said. “They had the exact program I was looking for (Long Term Care Administration), and I live in Plattsmouth, so it’s convenient. Who wants to drive an hour for classes?”

Thumser earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Long Term Administration. She works as an administrative assistant in Plattsmouth, a job she obtained on the condition that she graduate. She’s glad she took a chance and returned to school.

“I always tell people to go to school, even if it's just to learn one thing, like computer stuff, or a second language,” Thumser said. “Keep challenging yourself.”

Meanwhile, Shultz plans to continue her education at Peru State College while she works full-time, also as an administrative assistant. She knows it will take time to earn her bachelor’s degree, but she’s prepared to stay in for the long haul.

“This all happened for a reason, and I couldn’t be more proud to attend Southeast Community College and will always advocate for SCC and the learning centers,” she said.


Andrea Gallagher
Communications Specialist