In 2006, Theresa Coleman was laid off from her job at a furniture factory. A high school drop out, she had worked there since she was 18 because it paid well, had good benefits and it was close to home, she said.
After she was laid off, Theresa decided she never wanted to work in a factory again. “I wanted a new direction in my life,” she said.
She decided to go back to school. Theresa’s first step was a visit to the Missouri Career Center in Warrenton. “I researched the Business Administrative Systems program at SCC,” Theresa said. “It looked like the best fit for me based on location, classes offered and what I wanted.”
With the help of the Career Center, Theresa applied and was admitted into the fully funded Northeast Missouri (NEMO) Workforce Investment Board program for dislocated workers. The program covers full tuition and books, and includes other benefits.
In June 2006, Theresa enrolled in her first classes at St. Charles Community College, after nearly 10 years of being out of school.
“I was scared to death,” she said. “I didn’t know what was in store for me, but I knew I wanted a degree and I would do whatever it took to get it done.” Theresa’s hard work, dedication and desire to provide a better life for her family helped keep her going, she said.
In her last semester at SCC, Theresa was without a single job lead and only weeks away from graduation. She had all but given up hope.
But then, in one of her upper-level Business Administrative Systems (BAS) classes, Theresa volunteered to give a presentation at the BAS Advisory Committee meeting for extra credit. “I didn’t need the extra credit, but I wanted more experience in public speaking,” she said. “It was scary, but I had to do it.”
Theresa’s presentation was a “knockout,” according to Kathy Landis, an advisory committee member and an executive assistant at Environmental Management Corporation (EMC), a subsidiary of American Water. After the meeting, Theresa was introduced to Kathy, who happened to be looking for an assistant to hire at EMC. Kathy gave Theresa her business card and asked for a resume.
“The rest unfolded like a red carpet event,” Theresa said. “I received an offer letter from EMC less than a week later, and I was working full time two weeks before graduation.”
On May 17, 2008, Theresa graduated from SCC with honors and had already achieved her goal of finding a new job.
“I’ve learned so much at EMC; it’s the best job I’ve ever had,” she said. “And I’m here thanks to SCC.”