It’s Never Too Late

senator Allene Spearbeck headshotHi! My name is Allene, and chances are you’ve seen me around campus. I want to share with you my experience at Jamestown Community College as a non-traditional student, and how JCC has helped me transform my dedication to serving others into a catalyst for opportunity and leadership. It’s been quite a journey so far, and the best part is that it’s only the beginning!

I started at JCC in January, 2013. When I first started college, I knew that I wanted to work in the human services field, and my ultimate goal was to be a counselor. I wanted to help others, and I realized that I would need an education as well as mindfulness of social work and its soul. With that being said, I cannot be more thankful for choosing JCC as my starting point. The human services department here is profoundly excellent and its professors are exceptional.

When I first started at JCC, I was not a leader or an outgoing person. I faced that first semester with overwhelming emotions as I tackled new learning experiences and technologies and had to develop new time management and study skills. I kept going forward, one step at time, staying focused. I saw how committed JCC was to the success of its students. This article (be warned, there’s a paywall) in the Dunkirk Observer talks a little bit about that commitment, but it really can’t be said enough. My professors and the staff here cared about me as an individual. They gave me the tools and resources I need to succeed, and I know from watching them that I’m not the only one. They do their best to make sure that everyone has what they need to reach their goals and get an education.

Peer mentors at JCC 2014I was asked to join the Peer2Peer peer mentoring team in the fall of 2013, and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. As a peer mentor, I am able to help provide support and guidance to new students as they adjust to college life. I loved to see students help each other as we all worked to connect and reinforce the ultimate goal: success in their education. As a non-traditional student, it was especially wonderful that we could all learn from one another. I made friends and so many connections. Taking that first step and becoming more involved opened doors for me, and that involvement has led to even more opportunities.

Jamestown Student Senate 2014 groupThe next year, I joined JCC’s Student Senate. I was asked to run for the 2014-2015 student trustee position. Wow…a non-traditional student representing all of JCC’s campuses! I was in awe; this was a tremendous and overwhelming honor. Better yet, I was elected! In June, 2014 I was inducted as JCC’s student trustee and I have learned so much since then.

As a peer mentor and student trustee, I continued to search for new ways to help my fellow students. I worked at the Counseling and Career Development Center this past summer, where I engaged with students, faculty, and staff. Through this learning experience, I felt even more connected to JCC. I also joined the Non-Traditional Students Club. I enjoy helping non-traditional students become engaged on campus. It is so overwhelming for an adult learner to return to college. So much has changed, and it’s easy to get lost and confused. As a group, we can help one another figure out where we are and what comes next.

Through all of this, I’ve learned that making connections and getting involved lead to students’ success and their own personal growth. I have grown in the way I think, act, and react. Education is wonderful, and I only wish I had pursued it earlier in life. I am incredibly excited about continuing. Who I was, who I am, and who I will be is all wrapped up in the journey I began in 2013. I am committed to reaching out and connecting with others to promote education and the opportunities that JCC offers. It is never too late to go for your educational goals, or reach the opportunities that it will provide. Thanks for your support, and know that I am always willing to listen to you and be your voice.

About the author

Allene Spearbeck

Hello! I’m Allene. I’m a non-traditional student from Westfield, New York majoring in human services. My career goal is to be a counselor for veterans with PTSD. On campus, I'm the student trustee on the Board of Trustees, I'm a peer mentor, I serve on the college’s Planning Advisory Council as a student representative, and I work in the counseling center on the Jamestown Campus. At home, I love camping, reading, music, walking, and bicycling.