For David Paine, college wasn’t an obvious choice. Growing up, his heart was set on joining the Army. When the time came enlist, however, he received some disappointing news.
“I found out that I have a hearing condition that prevents me from serving in the military,” Paine said. “Since I’d planned to join the Army after high school, I was at a loss for what I should do next.”
At his mother’s urging, he decided to enroll at St. Louis Community College. Although it wasn’t his first choice, the decision ultimately helped set him up on a path to success.
“The experience has turned out to be better than I could have imagined,” Paine said, “I’ve had the opportunity to meet people who are willing to help me in achieving my goals.”
One of those people is Shantelle Harris, lead financial aid counselor at STLCC-Wildwood. The two met his first day on campus when he visited her office for guidance on how to pay for college. Not only did she help him with his paperwork, but she took a selfie with him and told him she was adding his photo to her student wall of fame.
“When I met David, I could tell that he was bright kid with a lot of potential,” Harris said. “I told him I saw greatness in him and that I believed he could succeed.”
In addition to encouraging him to visit her office from time to time, she set him up with a work study position in the IT department. The position ended up being a great fit, and it helped give him the confidence he needed to pursue a career in IT.
“Shantelle is awesome,” Paine said. “She not only helped me create a plan to pay for college, but she took an interest in me and has continued to be one of my biggest cheerleaders at STLCC.”
Harris’ support continued this year when she encouraged him to apply for a newly-created scholarship from the Wildwood Area Lions Club. She knew he met the requirements and that the money would go a long way toward funding his education.
Paine took her advice and applied. When he was selected, he felt a huge sense of relief knowing that the scholarship essentially covered his tuition for spring.
“It’s an honor to be chosen to receive this scholarship from the Wildwood Area Lions Club,” Paine said. “Every little bit helps, and I’m so thankful to have people supporting me, both in the community and at the college, in so many ways.”
With one semester remaining at STLCC, Paine is busy making transfer plans.
“I know now that I want to work in data and network security,” he said. “I like computers and I’m good at math, so I think it will be a good career for me. After I finish at STLCC, I plan to transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree and start my career.”