Among the college students returning to class in the coming weeks are Stephanie and Ian Rogers, a wife-husband team of Phi Theta Kappa alumni from Delgado Community College in Slidell, Louisiana, who worked with college advisors to meet their specific transfer needs and allow them both to continue their education at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.
“The help that we received was extremely helpful, considering at the time we were still both fulltime students and lived five hours away,” Ian said. “To know that Ole Miss took the time to help us as much as they did made me feel as if we were wanted.”
The couple was also able to secure several scholarships to ease their financial burden. Ian was awarded a Phi Theta Kappa President Scholarship and a Phi Theta Kappa Transfer Scholarship. Stephanie received two Community College Academic Excellence Scholarships and a Phi Theta Kappa Transfer Scholarship.
Stephanie, who was Louisiana’s 2014 New Century Scholar, also received a Chancellor’s Leadership Class Scholarship, as well as the prestigious Lyceum Scholar Award – a full resident tuition scholarship for two years.
“When students invest time and energy into exploring the transfer scholarships and opportunities in CollegeFish.org, particularly those available to Phi Theta Kappa members, there is great potential for reward, as Stephanie’s and Ian’s successes prove,” said Jennifer Blalock, Phi Theta Kappa’s Chief Student Support Officer. “The message here is to take an active role in your chapter, use the resources in CollegeFish.org, apply for every scholarships you’re eligible for, and you will see results.
“Also, I’ve worked with several students who weren’t afraid to ask for more assistance from their transfer college or university of choice. My advice to students is if you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you do, you increase your odds by 50 percent. Those are much better odds. Transfer admissions officers know how valuable an asset community college transfer students are to their campuses.”
Stephanie, 24, and Ian, 25, are non-traditional students with a 2-year-old son. Ian dropped out of high school when he was 16, received his GED and joined the army. Stephanie excelled in high school and joined the Navy JROTC. She joined the Army Reserve after high school but was injured in training and discharged.
The two married and moved to Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Ian was deployed for a year shortly after, and upon his return they moved to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. They started a family, Ian was discharged from the military, and they returned to Louisiana.
“We quickly realized that the options for those who do not have a college degree are extremely limited,” Stephanie said. “We knew that we needed to ensure a secure future for our family, and college would do that.
“We chose a community college because it was smaller, more affordable and would allow us to transition back into school easier. I was also able to find class, work and daycare all in the same place.”
The Rogers immersed themselves into campus life at Delgado Community College. Both were inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, and they each soon took on leadership roles. Stephanie served as the Omega Nu’s Vice President of Scholarship, and Ian as the chapter’s Vice President of Leadership and later President.
“I almost dropped out of college until I learned about Phi Theta Kappa,” Ian said. “Phi Theta Kappa gave me a reason to continue school.”
Stephanie echoed his sentiment, adding that the Society became a way for her to make a difference on campus and in her community.
“It allowed me to make friendships with like-minded students in college,” she said. “I do not have much free time between class, work and family to meet people, but I was able to meet other students who would be an excellent support system that I was able to grow with.”
Both received Delgado Honors Excellence Awards in two areas, as well as Delgado Honors Scholarships while at the school.
“They are role models for other students, and hopefully hearing their story will encourage other students to know that yes, dreams can come true,” said Kim Russell, Omega Nu Chapter Advisor. “I have watched them make an educational plan for themselves and continue to stay focused on their goals. For being as young as they are, they are very wise for their ages.”
Stephanie and Ian visited several four-year college campuses as they prepared to transfer. A Phi Theta Kappa conference took them to the University of Mississippi, a school they didn’t really consider until they began speaking with people from the college. As they explained their unique situation to transfer advisors, they received assistance on many unexpected levels.
“Ole Miss is the only college that took extra time and energy into hearing about our needs as a family to succeed at their school,” Stephanie said. “Every college will tell you about their scholarships, but Ole Miss is the only one that could tell us about our daycare options in the area for our son.
“They told us about what having a family in Oxford is like and why going to their school would be a good fit for our son as well.”
They even received help finding housing. Because the Rogers lived about five hours away, their transfer advisor would drive to places they found online and report back about the atmosphere, the commute and more.
“You’ve got to get involved and network,” Ian said. “Networking has made a tremendous difference in finding out about opportunities available to non-traditional students. Many universities value the diversity that non-traditional students bring to their communities.”
Stephanie will begin working this fall toward a bachelor’s degree in general engineering with a Pre-Med emphasis. She ultimately plans to go to veterinary school. Ian is working toward a doctoral degree in geological engineering.