Mark Schneider
Blazer Stories

Growing Into His Potential

When Mark Schneider first enrolled in college at age 18, he wasn’t in a place in his life where his studies were a priority. In high school, Mark planned on attending college as a way to continue playing football. After an injury made playing football at the college-level out of the question, the allure of college no longer appealed to Mark. He ended up enrolling at John Wood Community College as a last-minute plan.

“I didn’t take my first attempt at college very seriously. I was 18-19 years old, and not a serious student. That was very much to my own detriment– not being serious about what I was doing. I didn’t do assignments when they were due. I didn’t pay attention to what was going on,” remembers Mark.  “I was just showing up and kind of going through the motions. So after review boards and suspensions and things of that nature, I decided that was enough.”

After his first shot at college, Mark entered the workforce. He spent time working at various jobs, eventually landing in local media. Mark worked his way up to assignment editor at both local TV stations, WGEM and KHQA. During his time at the stations, he began to think that finishing school was not in his future.

“While working in the news, I never thought I would go back to school,” said Mark. “I just figured I was a bad student. I thought I had made my own way in an industry and that I would be fine.”

This attitude held until Mark took a job opportunity at Two Rivers Regional Council (TRRC) as the marketing coordinator. The Two Rivers Regional Council is a local organization committed to “supporting the basic needs of our community, fostering resiliency and developing economic opportunity for all.” The organization helps connect both small businesses and individuals to resources to help them thrive.

Seeing the need in the community and wanting to do more to help, Mark’s attitude toward his education began to evolve.

“As I got into my new job with Two Rivers, I started learning about the programs they offer and what that means to the community, and I grew more interested in non-for-profits,” said Mark.  “I think the work is something I find fun and interesting, but it’s also something that can allow me to make a large difference in the community. It has really made an impact on me over the last few months.”

It was after a few months working for TRRC that Mark decided to return to school, with the goal of earning a degree in sociology as way to prepare himself to take on a larger leadership role in the non-profit sector. And to his surprise, going back to school with a different attitude made a difference in his studies.

“Once I started my new career, I realized I did have a reason to go back to school. I had a goal in mind. To achieve that goal, I was going to have to take some steps and going back to school is definitely one of those steps. I thought, Man, are you really going to do this? Are you really going back again?” said Mark. “And I changed that mindset to from Are you going to try to do this again to You ARE going to do this again. It has helped me to keep that overall goal in mind. Not looking too far into the future. Cutting my workload into manageable pieces. Not focusing on years in the future, but what is happening now. This is the next thing I have to focus on to get to that goal.”

While Mark intends to go on to earn his bachelor’s degree in sociology, he is grateful to have the opportunity to attend John Wood to get the first two years of his degree done. Many factors play into his ability to go back to school, including time constraints and cost. But, according to Mark, JWCC makes those factors less of a hindrance.

“One of the great things about John Wood is that the cost is low. You would be pretty hard-pressed to find a better value in education than JWCC in this area,” said Mark. “JWCC offers all the modern tools that any larger organization would have… you get those tools at your fingertips with things like Blazernet, access to the online library resources, Canvas and Microsoft office. You are not just given something and then just left out to dry. You are given the tools you need to succeed at what you are doing. The value of it is huge to me.”

Mark is excited about what the future holds, and gratified he has made this decision for himself. While going back to school has meant a lot of work for him, he is confident about the return on his investment.

“I realized I may have 20-30 years of earning potential left in me. Why should I settle at the age of 41? It’s a challenge to myself. Can I, at the age of 41, finally earn my college degree. I will wear my cap & gown everywhere when the day finally comes that I get a cap and gown. Pride and feeling that sense of accomplishment is definitely a motivator to me.”