Leading up to my graduation in 2020 from Quincy Senior High School, I was convinced I needed to get out of Quincy and get myself to a four-year university. I aspired to go to places like the Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville, the University of Illinois Chicago, and the University of Iowa… My attitude was go big or go home!
Unfortunately, I was unsure of my plans at the beginning of my second semester as a senior at QHS. During my teacher’s assistant hour, I had some free time and on a whim applied to John Wood. Thankfully my mom had heard of the Trailblazers scholarship and encouraged me to apply, which I did when I was accepted.
In hindsight, that scholarship application changed the entire course of my higher education journey.
I was initially hesitant on accepting the scholarship offer because I was still thinking about attending a four-year university… but midway through me saying no, I changed my mind and said yes. I officially accepted the scholarship and began my journey at JWCC.
Not only was cost and location on my mind when I made the decision, but the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the dynamic of learning. Once the first semester of my first year started, John Wood was able to maintain on-campus classes with proper restrictions.
Through my Trailblazer Scholarship, I was able to get involved with the Student Government Association (SGA). SGA helps to plan and execute student life events throughout the entire year and really made an impression on my entire JWCC experience.
As a freshman, it was inspiring to watch the 2020-2021 officer team spark engagement and push through to make fun events. They inspired me to want to be an officer. That school year was the first year the PR secretary position was established. I saw a lot of potential in the position. It as aligned with what I was striving to do in the future. Running for and getting elected as the PR Secretary for the 2021-2022 school year had a large impact on my own life and the student life on flagship social media pages.
Going into my sophomore year at John Wood I was able to use the skills I had gained in my first year. Throughout my year as a PR Secretary and as a student-worker in the Public Relations and Marketing Office (PRM), I gained a lot of knowledge that will help me at my next school and in the workforce but also grow as a person. This was accomplished by finding my role and working within the Officer Team, establishing myself as a PRM student worker, and taking courses, like sociology with Tiffany Frericks.
One thing that stood out to me that I greatly underestimated is the diversity of people within my classes.
I had assumed all of my classes would be filled with my classmates I went to high school with.
I was wrong.
Through student government and the ability to attend in-person classes, I was able to meet people from larger cities, smaller surrounding towns, non-traditional students, international students, and many more. All people I would have never met or got to know personally if I went hadn’t made the decision to attend JWCC.
Once you get involved at John Wood there is truly a strong sense of community amongst the staff and students. The John Wood experience is what you make it out to be.
Something that is overlooked by many young students in and around Quincy, is the true value of attending John Wood, but not just attending, being active, and getting involved.
I am excited to take what I have learned and experienced here at John Wood to the next level as a transfer to the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. I’m proud to say that I am graduating from John Wood debt-free. I feel like a more established person and more confident in my success at a four-year university than I was graduating as a high school senior.
Olivia Hanson graduated with honors from John Wood Community College in the spring of 2022 with her AA degree. She plans to attend the University of Illinois to pursue a bachelor’s degree in communications beginning in the fall of 2022.