Editor’s note – This article is one of a series of feature stories from Southern State Community College highlighting alumni and the specific degree programs they completed.
Shelly Day’s youngest child was beginning kindergarten when Day decided it was time to leave her cleaning business and return to school. As a non-traditional student from Adams County, her first choice was the local community college.
Day, 35, graduated in 2015 with an associate’s degree in accounting from Southern State Community College and quickly got a job as a certified public accountant. Day said she felt a greater aptitude for accounting than some of her colleagues with more education.
“When I came out with my associate’s degree, I knew more than people who had their bachelor’s degrees,” she said.
Day said her education at Southern State prepared her for both the workforce and to eventually return to college to obtain her bachelor’s degree, which she did. Now a manager at the accounting firm, Day said she gets paid to do what she loves.
But Day’s education was not easy. As a non-traditional student with two children, Day had to shuffle her priorities as she worked her way through classes – and there were other challenges she didn’t anticipate.
“I’m older, so when I went to high school, we weren’t allowed to use calculators,” she said. “I’m going in there with all these young kids… and I had to say, ‘Hey, show me how to do this.’”
Day said faculty and staff offered Day the flexibility she needed to prioritize her family, and even as she neared graduation and classes narrowed, “they did their best to make it as accommodating as possible.”
Jeff Tumbleson oversees SSCC’s business program, which offers associate’s degrees in business and accounting, as well as an associate’s in business with a real estate broker option. Tumbleson said his program also offers a one-year certification in accounting and business focuses for students obtaining other degrees.
“One of the things we’ve done is the business degree is primarily online,” Tumbleson said, “so if a student is working a job and wants to come back to school, they have that flexibility of taking an online course and reaching completion without the extra commitment of driving to campus.”
Tumbleson said that there is an associate of arts guided pathway developed by the state which allows a student to take six approved business courses that will transfer to any four-year college in Ohio, “so it’s to their advantage to take as many courses here at our tuition rate as they can, compared to whatever college they’re going to. It’s just a way to save students money.”
According to Tumbleson, accounting graduates can go on to become entry-level accountants, accounting clerks, bookkeepers, payroll clerks and bank tellers. Business grads can become entry-level managers in a wide variety of businesses, and real estate students take three courses setting them up to successfully pass the real estate salesperson licensure exam.
Tumbleson said students get a wide variety of courses and experiences that give them a well-rounded knowledge of the business world. He added that the college has “very good faculty members who are student-oriented. We try our best to help students achieve their goals.”
“We try to tie in a lot of real-world ideas and experiences into the courses so the student gets a grasp of what it’s going to be like,” he said.
Day said she recently had the opportunity to hire several people for her firm, and she was most impressed with the candidates who had degrees from Southern State.
“We had some resumes come in and I just really wasn’t impressed, so I reached out to my old instructor at Southern State because I know the education they offer,” she said.
Tumbleson said overseeing these programs is important to him because it’s satisfying to see a student achieve their goals, “whether it’s solving a problem or completing a course or actually completing the degree.”
“It’s very satisfying to see that glow on the student’s face when they’ve accomplished any one of those criteria,” he said.
Day said she wouldn’t be where she is now had it not been for Southern State.
“I know community colleges get a bad rap, but I got a real quality education,” Day said. “Even when I went back and got my bachelor’s degree, I was well-prepared. They offer a really good foundation.”
For more information about Southern State’s Business Program, visit www.sscc.edu, email Jeff Tumbleson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 8000-628-7722, ext. 3678.
David Wright is a local journalist and freelance writer.