Ashlee Sparks Wins Eighth Annual JWCC Foundation and WGEM Career Makeover Competition

JWCC main campus building
March 6, 2020

Adult students continue to reinvent their careers by taking courses and earning degrees at John Wood Community College. This opportunity is now open to Ashlee Sparks of Palmyra, MO who won this year’s JWCC Foundation and WGEM Career Makeover competition.

Sparks emerged from a field of nearly 60 applicants to earn a two-year, full-tuition scholarship, also covering books and fees, to pursue an associate degree at JWCC.

“What an amazing year,” said Sparks. Sparks was surprised with the award at her workplace, Quincy Medical Group, where she is a receptionist in the OBGYN Department. Surrounded by her colleagues, she shared her surprise at being the winner, “Blessings have been raining down on me all this year and with leap of faith and listening to those little nudges to be in a better place. I now have this wonderful opportunity to continue my college education and begin a new journey.”

Knowing that education was key to her future, Sparks entered the JWCC Career Makeover Competition to “prove to myself first I could do it and be proud of the accomplishment, and second for my family and especially for my daughter to know the power of perseverance and to always reach for the stars.” She credits her husband for always believing in her.

When asked about next year’s contest and anyone considering entering the competition Sparks said, “Go for it. Don’t let the fear of what you think other’s perceptions are of you. Know your own potential and always move forward.”

Sparks will begin courses as part of her associate degree this fall with a focus in healthcare.

Runners-up to the competition are Terry Kemp and Victoria Campen. Each will receive a $1,500 JWCC scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The JWCC Foundation began in 1984 to advance the College’s mission and create educational opportunities through giving. In addition to the annual Career Makeover competition, the foundation awards more than $150,000 in private scholarships to JWCC students each year and supports multiple programmatic and capital projects for the College.

“This is one more way the JWCC Foundation creates educational opportunities,” Barbara Dietrich Holthaus, executive director of the JWCC Foundation Board said. “Thanks to the continued partnership with WGEM, the Career Makeover contest is a public way of showing the power education has to change someone’s life.”

WGEM supports the project as an extension of serving the community and its partnership with JWCC. “The Career Makeover isn’t just a competition, it is a life changing event,” stated Carlos Fernandez, WGEM vice president and general manager. “We are proud to partner with the JWCC Foundation to help people change their lives for the better.”

John Wood Community College is the educational link between business and community. JWCC collaboratively creates innovative and relevant academic and training programs with business leaders to educate young people and the workforce for today's needs and tomorrow's opportunities. JWCC has centers in Quincy, Pittsfield, Baylis and Mt. Sterling, Illinois. Programs include a comprehensive baccalaureate transfer curriculum, customized business training, career/technical degrees, certificates, and personal enrichment courses.