A common misperception in higher education is that college is primarily for recent high school graduates. In fact, a large percentage of Madisonville Community College (MCC) students are many years beyond high school and must work to balance college with their job and family responsibilities. Tagged as the new normals (or nontraditional students), this category of students is a growing population in our nation s community colleges.

The goals of these new normal students are varied. Many may have chosen to delay entering college after high school graduation. Others may have never had plans for going to college, but now find that earning a college credential offers the promise of better jobs and higher salaries to support their families. Some may have started college but were unable to complete their degree.

For more than a decade, Student Affairs Specialist Penny Jessup at MCC s Muhlenberg Campus has had an opportunity to assist thousands of county residents with achieving their college dreams. Some make big impressions. Pamella Parsons of Dunmor, who graduated in May with an associate degree, was one of those.

Pamella started the practical nursing program decades ago at MCC, but family obligations involving her three sons and grandchildren prevented her from completing college then, says Jessup. However, while accompanying her granddaughter in 2012 to get information about college, she decided to enroll herself. Jessup introduced Pamella to the Martin Scholars Program that is funded by the Felix E. Martin, Jr. Foundation. The program offers qualifying adult students returning to college some additional financial assistance.

Ms. Parsons is a prime example of someone determined to complete what they started and to set an example for young people to follow. She is convinced that education is worth all the hard work you put in it and that it s never too late to go back to college.
Muhlenberg County needs more people like Pamella Parsons according to Ken Robinson, president and CEO of the Muhlenberg Alliance for Progress. Muhlenberg County is seeking full certification as a Work Ready Community, but that will require an additional 470 county residents to hold two-year associate degrees. The Work Ready Community designation is vital in our efforts to attract new jobs to Muhlenberg County.

The Muhlenberg Campus of Madisonville Community College will host a Martin Scholar Open House on Thursday, July 17, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Representatives from admissions, academic advising, registration, and financial aid will be available to answer questions about how to get started. The Martin Scholar program is specifically designed to help Muhlenberg County adults, age 25 and older with at least 30 college-level credit hours, to complete their associate s degree. Students accepted in the program will receive a $250 cash stipend each semester they make satisfactory progress toward a degree at MCC. In addition, participants will receive a $400 bonus when they complete their degree at MCC.

The Felix E. Martin, Jr. Foundation and MCC want to help make your plans for achieving an associate degree a reality. Whatever the reason for attending college, MCC s Muhlenberg Campus offers county residents easy access with the lowest tuition cost in the state. The fall semester begins August 18. Those interested in learning more about what Madisonville Community College has to offer can contact Penny Jessup at 270-757-9881.