Starting college young is intimidating. I started at Elgin Community College when I was only 14 years old, and I was absolutely terrified! Despite my parents’ affirmation of my maturity, I panicked at the idea of talking to young adults and was afraid my age would be obvious. In my first class, I felt out-of-place; all the students were at least four years older than me. But as I began to succeed in the class, I realized that I was among my academic peers, and that education could be our common language.
One thing that helped me conquer my fear was joining Phi Theta Kappa. All the PTK members were older than me, but we had a mutual earnestness for learning. Through the thoughtful efforts of PTK members, I started to feel comfortable at ECC. I stopped hiding my age and learned to be okay with being different.
Another thing that helped was my ECC Foundation Scholarship. This greatly helped my ability to move ahead in my education so early. The financial support I received from ECC covered almost all of my college expenses, and accordingly, my parents had essentially no financial burden.
My ECC journey is one of victory over fear. Eventually, I made friends with the people I was once afraid to talk to in the place I was once afraid to enter. I now have confidence to move forward with my education because of my ECC experience. I am proud of my accomplishments--graduating with honors at 16-years-old--and eager to continue pursuing my academic goals. I will start Aurora University in the fall for my math/secondary education degree with a music minor. My goal is to complete this phase of my education by the age of 19!
My advice to future students comes from the Bible, Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for […] the Lord your God […] will not leave you or forsake you.”
Susannah Gooch ‘20
Associate in Arts