Katelyn Collins is a senior from Logan County, West Virginia, majoring in Sociology. Upon graduation in 2019, she plans to work in a hospital or hospice as a Social Worker in Gerontology. When asked why she chose to come to Alice Lloyd College, she explained, “I wanted to come to a small college that is close to home but also far away; I am only two hours from home which is perfect for me.”
Staying close to go far is a tradition at ALC because the majority of the students are from a 108-county service area. These are counties in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia that are only a few hours from campus. This gives the students a unique opportunity to receive a quality, private, liberal arts education while being close enough to maintain their ties to family and the Appalachian community. Family ties are extremely important to Katelyn because she was raised by a single mother who worked over 40 hours a week in a low-paying job just to make sure they had what they needed; most of the time, the pay just covered the bare necessities. It was admiration for her mother’s strong work ethic that instilled in Katelyn a similar tenacity at a young age, which has propelled her toward becoming a first-generation college graduate.
Alice Lloyd College is about changing the lives of its students. Katelyn explains that “I am so very blessed to be at Alice Lloyd College, and I am not sure what I would be doing or where I would be today if it was not for the people who pushed me to apply here. At first, I wasn’t going to attend college because of the fear of going into debt.” However, after hearing about ALC’s tuition guarantee, Katelyn realized that a college degree was much more attainable than she had thought. Looking back at this decision as a senior she recognizes how fortunate she was to come here, especially when she reflects on the uncertainty of where she would be today without the opportunities she has received at ALC.
Many high school students not only fear the weight of debt often associated with obtaining a college degree but also fear the lack of personal connections with faculty and staff. Katelyn similarly shared these fears; however, after coming to ALC, she quickly realized, “The ALC faculty don’t see you as just a number in a classroom, they learn your name and get to know you.” Another unique attribute of Alice Lloyd College is the Student Work Program which teaches students skills outside of the classroom such as leadership, time management, and public speaking. Katelyn fulfills her work-study requirement as an Admission’s Ambassador for the ALC Admissions Office where she meets prospective students and guides them on tours of the College. Meeting so many people has taught her several life lessons and she says, “I’ve been in the Admissions Office for three years now, and it has really opened my eyes to how lucky I am to be here. Not everyone gets in; not everyone gets the opportunity that I get every day to better my life. Working in this office has taught me many life lessons that will help me get through everyday situations. I have met so many different types of people on my campus tours. On tours, you get to meet people from different locations and different living situations which makes you realize even more how fortunate you are.” Katelyn has applied the lessons she has learned from her work-study to not only her everyday life but her volunteer work as well.
Over the summer, Katelyn had the privilege of volunteering at the Hospice Center in Hazard, Kentucky. Katelyn’s ALC academic advisor, Dr. McLeese, encouraged her to volunteer at the Hospice Center in order to get a feel for what her future career would be like. Such an opportunity opened Katelyn’s eyes to the struggles of others. “I have met some people at Hospice who are the only ones left of their family, and they are alone at a time when they need someone most,” she explained. “I have realized how important volunteers are at Hospice because they help patients with anxiety. Some patients stay constantly anxious, some are scared of dying alone, and some are afraid no one will be there with them. Volunteering at Hospice has helped me feel more prepared for my dream job. I have met some wonderful people, and I know that my time volunteering there is time well spent. I met an 88-year-old lady who loved to talk but had no one to talk to because the staff was busy helping other patients. I sat with her during my shift for three days and became very close to her. I was sad to see her go back home. Not everyone that comes to Hospice is considered close to death. Some patients stay for residency care if their family is unable to provide what they need, or sometimes they are there due to symptoms and they would prefer Hospice over the hospital. I am very lucky to have had someone who cares about me (my advisor) to push me to take this remarkable opportunity.”
It is experiences like these that prepare ALC students for living lives of purposeful service. Katelyn is grateful for the opportunities she has received at ALC and reflects on the positive impact that a number of dedicated and selfless individuals can have in the lives of students like herself. “Someone who donates money so a student they have never met can get a valuable education shows a level of caring that is beyond measure. These individuals have no idea how much they have impacted the students and this college. I am honored to say that because of the aid provided by our selfless donors, I will be a first-generation college graduate!”
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