Higher Education Has the Power to Change Lives

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When Morris Morrison finished his high school education, all he wanted was a chance to be successful in life, and he knew that he would need a college education to make that a reality.

Without the help of parents in his life to support him financially, Morrison was faced with the task of paying for college on his own.

“Without a scholarship from Fairmont State, I am not sure how I would have completely paid for college,” Morrison said. “Fairmont State stepped up to make sure that everything I needed would be taken care of. And because of the scholarship support that I received from Fairmont State, I had the confidence to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.”

Today, Morrison, who graduated from Fairmont State in 2002, is a business owner and motivational speaker who is making a difference in the lives of others. “I have a chance to impact the world and my clients with the same level of care and support that Fairmont State provided for me,” he said.

Like many of Fairmont State University’s students, President Maria Rose was the first member of her family to attend college and knows the life-changing power of education.

“Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I was one of those kids who played school,” she said. “There was never a doubt in my mind or in my parents’ minds that I would go to college, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would someday be a university president. That is the power of a higher education degree. Education can create opportunities you never dared to imagine.”

Rose said that college graduates benefit on a personal level from higher education, and college degrees are vital in order to have a successful economy.

“Another added benefit is that the college experience helps make us more well-rounded as people and better citizens by exposing us to diverse viewpoints and new social and cultural experiences,” she said.

Rose said the West Virginia College Completion Task Force has reported that 49 percent of all jobs in the state will mandate some postsecondary training by 2018. Currently, only 27.5 percent of adults ages 25 and older in West Virginia hold a college degree. Across the nation, 41.1 percent of adults have earned a two-year or four-year degree.

Fairmont State helps its students be prepared to join the workforce and participate in lifelong learning.

“The mission of Fairmont State is to provide opportunities for individuals to achieve their professional and personal goals and discover roles for responsible citizenship that promote the common good,” Rose said.

FSU encourages students of all ages to complete their degree.

Adam Green, Director of the Division of Student Success and P-20 Initiatives for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, said anyone who receives an advanced degree – two-year or four-year – is much more competitive in the workforce.

“We know that higher education is the primary vehicle for improving one’s quality of life and improving one’s standard of living,” he said. “Higher education yields higher earnings, greater job security and the opportunity to live a more fulfilling life.”

Research indicates that the typical bachelor’s degree recipient can expect to earn about 66 percent more during a 40-year working life as compared to the typical high school graduate in that same period of time, Green said.

The HEPC partnered with the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia, West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts to create the College Foundation of West Virginia.

The purpose of this effort is to drive all people – whether they are traditional age students, adult learners, parents or counselors – to one web portal, cfwv.com. This interactive site, which has pulled together multiple resources, is a place where people can plan, apply and pay for college.

“It really is about ease and making what some may view as an obstacle much easier,” Green said. “I think that everyone wants a brighter tomorrow, and education and training beyond high school is going to make tomorrow brighter.”