Johni Carolyn Eberly, '22

Overcoming Community College Stigma to Achieve her Dreams

I always thought, I’m not going to a community college when I can go to this very well-known four-year university, but now I realize it does not matter where you go. I thought I was too big for Terra State, and now I am paying for it with all my student loans.

Johni Carolyn Eberly was the typical high school graduate that dreamed of going to a well-known four-year institution and traveling away from home. Living in Fremont at the time, she looked at multiple universities and colleges and decided to enroll at an in-state four-year institution; however, her plans soon changed after being enrolled for two years. Eberly ended up dropping out early because the cost of going to college was too expensive, and she could no longer afford to pay out-of-pocket expenses every semester.

After leaving, Eberly became a nurse aide and stayed there for six years until she realized it was time for a career change.

Eberly soon enrolled at Terra State in the summer of 2019, after she discovered that she wanted to study Computer Systems. Growing up in Fremont, she was familiar with the College, but never wanted to attend because she believed at the time that community colleges were not good enough.

The transition to Terra State from a four-year institution and being in the workforce for six years was simple. The admissions and advising offices helped her get some of her classes transferred and guided her on how she could achieve her academic as well as career goals.

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    Buckeye IT Services

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    Job Title

    Network Technician (Level-One Tech)

Creating a future in Computer Systems

“My favorite aspect about Terra State was the close interaction I had with my instructors and getting to know all of my classmates,” said Eberly. “The instructors I had were great not at just explaining the lessons but also showing you how to do something, which I never received while attending a four-year institution. It was also nice how they would let you try to figure things out and work through the problems on your own before asking questions.”

Throughout her time at the College, and even after graduating, her instructors were there to help her achieve her dreams. “The instructors really care about seeing you not only pass but succeed. Whenever I had a question or needed extra help in class, I knew there would always be an instructor there to help me out,” said Eberly. “Even now, after graduating, I know if I need something or have a question about my current position, I know one of the instructors will help. That is something that a four-year institution would not provide.”

“Looking for a job was a little bit intimidating, but I felt prepared when I had my job interviews during my last semester. The instructors were super great about making sure all of their students were prepared for interviews. They wrote us letters of recommendation, conducted mock interviews and helped us put our portfolios together,” she said.

Eberly graduated in May of 2022 with her two Associate of Applied Science degrees in Computer Information Systems and Systems and Networking Support. She earned an excellent education and was ready to enter the workforce, leading her to land a job offer right before graduation. Eberly is now a Network Technician (Level-One Tech) at Buckeye IT Services in Tiffin, Ohio. She loves her job and how she can apply what she learned from the classroom to the real-life work environment. “Pretty much everything that I have learned at Terra State I have been able to apply to my current position. I really enjoyed the hands-on learning the Computer Systems program promoted,” said Eberly.

She credits Terra State for having a positive impact on her life. “Only going for two years and having two degrees and multiple certifications has definitely helped in my career. I think the teachers there at Terra are more invested in their students. They want to see you succeed, and they actually care if you do or don’t. At those bigger colleges, you are just another number. I’m going to be able to take everything that I learned at Terra State with me for the rest of my career,” said Eberly.