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“If it weren’t for my academic counselor, Tom Schrautemeier, there’s no way I would have graduated,” said Joe Bizelli, SCC alum. “He encouraged me to continue taking one class at a time, no matter how long it took.”
It was no small feat, but after more than 10 years of being in and out of school at SCC, Joe earned his Associate of Arts degree in May, 2015.
“I came to SCC in 2004 after graduating from Francis Howell High School because of the A+ Program. It covered my tuition costs for my first two years at SCC.”
After starting at SCC, Joe moved to Sonoma, Calif., for a bit. When he returned he started back up at SCC and began working at a specialty pharmacy.
“Throughout the years I would take a class here and there at SCC when I could afford it and had the time.”
Joe said he enjoyed his time at SCC because the professors were understanding and loved their jobs.
“Curt VanGeison, Hal Berry and Mike Finnegan made class interesting and enjoyable. I could tell they were passionate about the subjects they taught.”
In November 2014, Joe had a life-changing moment and quit his job at the specialty pharmacy.
“I realized one day that I really didn’t like working for ‘the man’ and headed to Nashville to spend time with professional songwriters to start learning the craft.”
Thanks to the help from a great mentor and co-writer, Donna Opfer, president of the St. Louis chapter of The Nashville Songwriters Association, Joe has started a career as a musician.
“The first song I wrote when I got back from Nashville was a song about my hometown called ‘Follow Me to New Melle’,” he said. “The music video will be released this spring and is set to be named the official town anthem of New Melle, courtesy of the mayor.”
A restroom line encounter got Joe involved with a charity, Play it Forward, where he continually gives back to the community by seeking donations for the charity, which donates musical instruments to kids in school.
“I was standing in line for the restroom at Broadway Oyster Bar and started talking to the guy in line behind me. He worked with Play it Forward, and I immediately knew that I had to get involved because I truly believe in its cause. A musical instrument can make a huge difference in a child’s life, especially if their life isn’t easy.”
Although Joe has strayed from his original plans when he first started SCC, he still has education goals he hopes to complete, no matter how many years it takes him.
“I hope to earn a bachelor’s degree with a minor in songwriting.”
Last updated: Nov. 4, 2015