(pleasureteam note: Brian describes another encounter with a student from our college—he seems to be a magnet for these meetings. We’ll write more about the importance of encouragement in upcoming posts.)
I asked, “Are you from around here?” and learned that Matt (Kenneth M. Morris) is a twenty year old who has worked two months full time for James Knight Appliance. He also just completed his first semester at Hopkinsville Community College, having taken four courses while receiving financial aid.
Matt gave me permission to talk here about our conversation, and in fact he was excited when I told him about the blog. “I want to go worldwide,” he said.
I asked how his semester went, and he did well in two courses but needed to withdraw from two. One he withdrew from was Math 150, college algebra, but the neat news is that he had placed into it and enjoyed it, especially Professor Frank Montgomery: “He’s a smart man,” said Matt. “I understood the concepts but didn’t do well on tests and was behind in my homework, and Mr. Montgomery advised me to withdraw with a week to go.”
Concerned that Matt might have been discouraged over his semester, I asked if he planned to go back in the fall, and he intends to. I told him that the biggest obstacle I see with students is not expecting the unexpected. Things are going to happen: flat tires, sickness, family crises, and money issues.
It’s hard to go to work, go to school full time, and tend to family. “Perseverance is the main quality that I see in students who succeed and press on,” I said.
This isn’t to say that education doesn’t need to be postponed at times, but it’s less likely to happen when a student gets used to education as a culture. Once a student gets a mindset that includes education as a necessity, education gets bumped up on the priority list, and a student is more likely to get through adversity and keep moving toward a degree or credential.
Matt expressed concern about knowing what to concentrate on when he reads. “If I take a history course, I don’t know what to make sure to remember from the book.” He just had GEN 102, so the idea of strategy has been planted, and we talked about looking for the main idea in a paragraph or on a page. “I’m sure you have strategies for other things in your life.”
He liked this and mentioned how when he was first on the wrestling team at Christian County High School that he got whipped badly every time. “I developed my technique and started to win.”
“I’m sure you’ll find your technique with studying,” I said. Matt and his coworker Sean got into the bright red pickup. It turns out that Sean has a connection with our family that I hadn’t known until chatting with the guys. Sean’s sister was a wonderful caregiver to my wife’s parents in their last year and a half and has a long-term relationship with one of the other women who served as caregivers.
As Matt and Sean were getting ready to back out of the driveway, I encouraged Matt again and then said to Sean, “A little education wouldn’t hurt you either.” He grinned, and I reflected on two worlds, hard to bring together but not impossible.