College is for everybody.
That’s what Erin White believes now that she’s been through the Kiewit Scholars Program at North Platte Community College.
The California native always wanted a higher education, but when life kicked in, her dreams ended up on the back burner. Eventually, she waited long enough that going back to school seemed too daunting of a task.
“I had no idea where to start, or even what classes I wanted to take,” White said. “I graduated from high school in 2011 and looked into some colleges, but then my family moved to North Platte. After that, I was just working and waiting for the right moment. I had a child, and that put the brakes on everything.”
Last summer, she stumbled across an opportunity that would change her life forever.
“My mom showed me a newspaper article about the Kiewit Scholars Program at NPCC,” said White. “It was a 10-month program designed to put me into the workforce right away. It was exactly what I was looking for.”
The Kiewit Scholars Program is open to non-traditional students, low-income individuals and GED recipients. It prepares them for entry or re-entry into the workforce by teaching specific skill sets that improve their chances of obtaining employment and/or increasing wages.
White used the program to earn certificates in Medical Billing and Coding as well as Medical Office Technology.
“I had always kind of wanted to do something medical-related because that’s the field my mom is in and because those jobs are consistently in high demand,” White said. “The Kiewit Scholars Program made it easy. Everything was laid out for me – from the classes I needed to take to the mentor who guided me through them.”
White received scholarships that covered the cost of her classes and books, and the program assisted her in transitioning back into an educational system.
“It was a challenge after having been out for so long,” White said. “But, there were people in the program in their 50s, which just goes to show it’s never too late for an education. We all became so close. We formed study groups and stayed after class to finish homework together. It was like a built-in support system.”
Kiewit students follow a strict attendance policy, job shadow, learn about career expectations, participate in an etiquette dinner and receive guidance with résumés, cover letters and mock job interviews among other things.
White made the Dean’s List both semesters and was asked to interview for a position after the job shadowing. She turned it down, but only because she wanted to continue her education.
“I earned my certificates in May, but now I want that Associate of Applied Science degree,” White said. “I’m so close, and I’ve become addicted to learning.”
She doubts she would have gone back to school without the assistance of the Kiewit Scholars Program and its coordinator, Teresa Piccolo.
“Teresa was incredible,” White said. “She laid the foundation for success, and all we had to do was apply ourselves. She gave us all the resources, all the opportunities in the world, and those 10 months were worth it in the end.”
The deadline to apply for the Kiewit Scholars Program is July 27. More information is available by contacting Piccolo at 535-3700 or email@example.com.