Employed for more than 10 years installing commercial fences, Thomas Short learned he was without a job when his company went under.
“I had to start over,” Short said. “I tried to find another steady job but a lot of the outdoor jobs I was qualified for are not steady and can end at any time.”
Due to the loss of his financial stability, Short says he began heading down a rough path, abusing substances and making bad decisions.
“After I lost my house, I was staying at my mother’s house and, with every day getting worse than the previous day, I knew something had to change,” he said. “I thought about what kind of example I was setting for my children and decided that I would show them the example that I want them to follow.”
Short set out to earn his G.E.D, which took about three or four months. He then was asked if he was going to pursue college.
“That was something I had never thought about,” Short said. “Again thinking about my children, I decided to show them that ‘Dad can do it and so can you.’”
Short enrolled at St. Clair County Community College in 2018 and applied for the TRIO program.
“The last time I attended any kind of school was in the eighth grade,” he said. “When I came to college, I was super nervous about the process and had no clue how a system like this was supposed to work. I heard that TRIO was known for its academic planning.”
Since then, TRIO has helped Short plan and register for classes and generally stay on track. TRIO also provided support services that Short never anticipated.
“TRIO made me feel like part of something bigger than myself,” Short said. “They gave me confidence, and I feel the self-confidence I gained reflected directly into my grades. Trio took the butterflies and self-doubt out of being a brand-new college student, and I am sincerely grateful for the program.”
In addition to the TRIO program, Short says he’s very thankful for the support he’s found in his SC4 professors.
“I have been honored to learn from the most caring and helpful professors that a student could ask for,” he said. “The one-on-one attention has really shown the advantage of a community college. I am grateful for all of my professors, but a few that really stand out for me: Professor Lubbers, who taught me to be more outgoing as a student; Instructor Gentry, who taught me that if I do something great don’t be afraid to let people know that I’ve done something great; and Professor Forsgren and Professor Collard, who challenged my way of thinking and pushed me to challenge myself harder than I ever thought I was capable of.”
Thanks to support from his professors and TRIO, Short continues his forward momentum toward a new career.
“My goal is to get into a steady career in technology so I won’t have to worry about where my children’s next meal will come from,” he said. “Also, part of the reason I started college was to provide a good example for my children to follow and learn from. The ultimate goal is to ready my children for a better future than I was on the way to providing them before. Now here I am, full speed ahead and will never look back.”