Michelle Edwards grew up in a household where college wasn't talked about.
In 1997, she was hired as a student worker in the library, and a year later, she was hired full time there. During this time, she began taking advantage of the tuition reimbursement options that were provided by the school, which helped her to earn an associate's degree from OCTC; a bachelor's degree from Western Kentucky University and a master's degree from the University of Louisville.
Recently, Edwards, an Owensboro native, acquired her doctorate of philosophy in educational leadership from WKU, and she said all of these accomplishments could not have been possible without getting her start at the community and technical college.
The small class sizes allowed for her to connect with instructors, and watching how they interacted with students made her realize her passion for education.
Now, Edwards is an associate professor of early childhood education, and she hopes to encourage other students to reach their goals. She also shares her story with students in an effort to motivate them.
"I constantly tell (my students) 'You can get there just one class at a time,'" she said. "You will get there. You will get where you want to be if you just don't stop."
She said that coming from a background where higher education didn't seem like an option helped to make her a better student and helped her to keep pushing toward her goals.
"You just have to keep pushing, and you're going to make it," she said.
Bobbie Hayse, email@example.com, 270-691-7315, Twitter:@BobbieHayseMI