For Southeast Missouri State University students Megan Kneezle and Melanie Smith, the decision to attend classes at the Regional Campuses in Sikeston and Kennett, Missouri, made sense.
“At the age of 18, I was not ready to leave my parents just yet, so I was able to get the college experience by staying closer,” says Kneezle, a Sikeston, Missouri native who will be graduating this month with a Bachelor of Science in Education, early childhood education. “It was supposed to be a temporary thing, but I ended up loving all of my professors and made some of the greatest friends.”
Her decision to attend Southeast was inspired by her older brother, who graduated from Southeast in 2016.
“I wanted to have a similar experience as him, even though he attended class on the main campus,” she said. “I loved the Regional Campuses because they work well for students who are not ready to leave home and live on campus yet.”
She says some of her favorite Southeast are the times she brought her child to campus.
“My professors were so understanding after I had my son, and they worked with me,” Kneezle said. “They would help me when I came to class with my son due to daycare issues, and would go above and beyond, including one professor who would play with my son while I completed my work. It was absolutely amazing and gave me another reason to love Southeast even more. The professors truly want all of their students to succeed.”
Kneezle says her decision to pursue a career in early childhood education comes from her love of working with children.
“Seeing children light up when they learn something new is what excites me the most,” she said. “Having that feeling of success is the biggest accomplishment as an educator.”
After graduation, she says she plans to urge her husband to finish his degree before she eventually returns to school to pursue a master’s degree. She says she also has plans to open her own daycare in Sikeston.
Melanie Smith of Kennett, Missouri says her decision to go back to school was also inspired by her family.
“I wanted my girls to see that you never stop learning, you never stop striving, and you always pursue your dreams,” said Smith, will be graduating this month with a Bachelor of General Studies.
She says that even during trying times, her family was able to provide support and keep her focused on her long-term goals.
“My husband is very supportive. He encouraged me to go back to school and spoke positively when I had bad days,” she said. “I won’t lie and say it was easy because it wasn’t. On many occasions I felt so overwhelmed like I would never be able to accomplish it all. But I would remind myself why I was there and push through.”
The support she received was not just limited to family. She credits her professors at the Kennett Regional Campus with helping her to achieve her dream of earning a degree.
“Certain professors I have had have given me insight into different situations and how to handle them. Others have shown me different teaching methods and flexibility,” Smith said. “The teachers that get to know you through ITV, who recognize you, who make you feel like you are right there on campus with them are the ones I have learned the most from about being an inclusive educator. Cindy Bowman gives so much insight on what to expect in the classroom. John Chandler is the best example of a professor. He will be flexible with you, he learns your name, and makes the remote campus experience so involving.”
Smith says that upon graduating she plans to substitute teach while completing her teacher certification through the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE).