For many students, transferring from Joliet Junior College (JJC) to a four-year college or university is a popular path. However, what happens when a student decides to do the reverse route?
Erin Tezak, of Mazon, started college at Carroll University in Wisconsin. After a couple of weeks there, she quickly found out that the university life was not as she had imagined.
"I had so many difficulties trying to get in contact with my professors," she said. "I did not like that at all."
After one semester, Tezak made the decision to move back home. She considered many different schools before choosing JJC.
"Since I am from Seneca and JJC was in my backyard, I never saw it as an option. However, after meeting with Workforce Development and weighing all of my options, JJC was the best choice for me and it was the best decision I have made."
Tezak chose JJC for three reasons: affordability, location, and the nursing program.
"When I first started to look into other colleges, I knew that I did not want to be bombarded with debt. I also knew that I did not want to travel too far. JJC allowed me to do just that."
Thanks to the Grundy Workforce Services program, Tezak received a grant through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which helped pay for her tuition, books and the nursing board tests.
The biggest reason why she chose JJC was because of its nursing program.
"The program has so many great professors and advisors. They really care about their students and they want you to succeed," she said.
Tezak said that once she decided to make JJC her new "home" everything else just fell in place.
"When I got into the nursing program, I just fell in love. The Nursing Department has so much to offer, from the department tutor, to peer mentors, and the state-of-the-art simulation lab. Being at JJC just felt like a second home. I finally felt like I had everything I needed to succeed," she added.
Tezak said that she has had ample supply of mentors.
"My first semester clinical instructor, Mary Magruder was amazing. She was very comforting to me my first semester when I was not sure of anything I was doing or if nursing was even the path for me. Another professor who really got me passionate about nursing was my third semester clinical instructor, Colleen Kestel-Branchaw, who retired this past May. Her passion for nursing pushed me to keep trying my hardest even when I felt burnt out and overwhelmed with school and working," Tezak said.
Tezak also credits Sarah Hintze, manager of Grundy Workforce Services at the Morris Education Center, who pushed her to persevere through the program.
"She is one of the people who guided me through my entire experience at JJC," Tezak said. "She was always there if I needed someone to talk to and she always steered me in the right direction. Her strong passion about JJC is why I decided to go to JJC."