Night will help raise money for scholarship
SIKESTON -- Before the Noranda Aluminum Inc. scholarship came along, 19-year-old Brad Glenn's college career through Southeast Missouri State University greatly depended on whether or not he would receive a football scholarship.
With tuition increases and college campus costs like parking permits and dormitory expenses, attending Sikeston Area Higher Education Center seemed like the only way to go for Glenn.
"Easy access is the main reason I like it so much," Glenn said. "Everything is all together. You have more of an opportunity to speak to your teachers after classes because classes are a lot smaller at SAHEC than on a college campus."
Judy Buck, SAHEC director, said more and more SAHEC students like Glenn are opting for college life without having to actually experience the traditional college life.
Since SAHEC opened its doors in January 1998, enrollment has grown from 305 to more than 1,450 students, Buck said. In the past year alone, enrollment has increased by 30 percent.
For this reason, SAHEC will hold its second annual dinner auction and dance at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Elks Lodge in Sikeston to raise need-based and merit scholarship funds for the students who attend the Center. Currently, there are only four designated scholarships for SAHEC students.
"In order to provide for our many students who need financial assistance, we hope we have a big crowd," Buck said. "We are asking that everyone help be a part of the growth of our Center and the regional area by supporting our scholarship dinner auction."
Items donated by area businesses to be auctioned off include artwork, gift certificates, tickets for a Branson show, week stay at a condominium in Panama City, Fla., and an office chair.
Over $50,000 has already been raised for SAHEC scholarships. Some of the area businesses offering endowments to SAHEC students this year include Ralph Distributing, Sikeston Jaycees, Noranda Aluminum, Kingsway Furniture, First National Bank and several others.
Glenn received an endowment through Noranda Aluminum, located in New Madrid. With the Noranda scholarship, all of Glenn's tuition and textbook expenses are paid for, plus he is guaranteed a job at Noranda for at least four years after obtaining his degree.
Noranda Aluminum Inc. Superintendent for Communications, Training and Development Steve McPheeters said it's a great opportunity for students.
"We have several electricians retiring in the next five to 10 years," McPheeters said. "The best way to ensure we have skilled mechanics is by creating a restricted scholarship."
McPheeters said Noranda targets area votech schools and encourages students to apply for their scholarships. SAHEC students can work toward several associate of applied science degrees at the Center. In addition, students can choose to begin work on a bachelor's degree from Southeast Missouri State University.
"More and more students are attending SAHEC right out of high school," McPheeters said. "Either they know what they want to do and are pursuing their career or they're not sure what they want to do so they're getting credit at SAHEC. And these kids are right here in our community."
As the need for SAHEC changes, the community needs to change to meet those needs, McPheeters said, referring to the increased popularity of SAHEC. "A lot of people wonder what they can be proud of in Sikeston. Well, SAHEC is a great example of that," he said.
SAHEC Banquet Chair Kim Heckemeyer agrees. She said some people take for granted that they can get the same education by attending SAHEC. Education is the best way to elevate a community, and SAHEC is such an asset, she explained.
"I'm a product of this," said Heckemeyer, who received 18 college credit hours at an education outreach in Malden before going on to receive a law degree. "And the cost of education is increasing at an extraordinary rate -- SAHEC is a great choice especially with the current state of the economy."
Students travel from as far south as Dunklin County and as far north as Ste. Genevieve to attend classes at SAHEC, Heckemeyer said. She said SAHEC is much more convenient than a college campus. Students don't have to park far away and walk up hills, she pointed out.
"I have a friend who takes classes at Southeast's campus and he was telling me how expensive parking permits were. I'm glad we don't have to do that at SAHEC," Glenn noted.
Either way -- with or without the Noranda scholarship -- Glenn said he would've gone to college. "But I probably wouldn't have been able to attend Southeast if I didn't have the scholarship," he said.
Entertainment will be provided by the Jerry Ford Band. Tickets are $35 each . A sponsor's reserved table of 10 is $1,000. Tickets are available at SAHEC.
For more information about the upcoming dinner auction and dance, call Buck at (573) 472-3210; Heckemeyer at (573) 472-0290; or Brian Menz at (573) 471-6688.