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Vicky Mills is a force of nature
“I never thought about what I wanted to do when I grew up,” says Vicky Mills. “No one in my family went to college, and my brother and mother didn’t finish high school.”
By Vicky’s own account, her journey to VSAC’s Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) program has not been a straight line.
She arrived in the United States from Australia on her own at age 18, more than 30 years ago. She attended Dallas County Community College and Dallas Baptist University before leaving school to work in the insurance business. Vicky worked as a commercial insurance writer for 25 years until 2017.
“In 2017, I lost my job. It was a big shock to me,” she relates.
In 2019, she contacted VSAC’s EOC program because she wanted to go back to school and assumed that her college credits from 30 years ago wouldn’t be worth anything.
“When I started speaking with Kelly, I was delighted to hear that 43 of my credits transferred. I only had 17 credits left to get my associate degree, so I thought, why not?” she remembers.
This began her new educational journey. Both Andrea and Kelly have provided ongoing financial, academic, and emotional support to Vicky over the past few years. She is now gearing up to finish her degree at CCV this spring and plans to transfer to Northern Vermont University this summer to pursue a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, with a focus on her passion, environmental studies.
Through VSAC’s EOC Program, Vicky has applied for and received financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships to help cover her education costs, which will continue going forward.
“Andrea was really good at helping me see the financing side to make the money work to go to college, but also to know it takes the human connection and human experience,” she says. “I ran things by her, and she thought it was fantastic.”
For Vicky, being back in a classroom feels less like a continuation of her education than a new beginning. With so much time passing since she first attended college, Vicky has had to adjust to being back in school.
“Coming back after so long is really hard, and you do feel very out of the loop and like your education is 'old,'” she explains. “It totally feels like starting over and that I'm back in high school. Getting used to being a student again is really challenging, especially during a pandemic,” she adds.
Covid-19 has been particularly trying for Vicky, and the isolation and financial uncertainty have resulted in her questioning whether staying in school is feasible. But the reassurance she has received from Andrea and Kelly have given her the confidence to keep going.
“Through Andrea, the VSAC EOC Program has presented to me that education can be possible, affordable, and exciting,” she notes. “I finally have the opportunity to build on aspects of myself that I feel can benefit my position within society. I'm excited to see what I 'become' by the end of this academic journey. I feel empowered to dream big and expect results!”
Vicky’s advice for fellow adult learners like herself?
“Reach out to the EOC Program at VSAC and ask for help. They can help you to realize your dreams for your future,” she states. “It will boost your confidence. And never stop asking questions. If they don’t have the answer, they can refer you to someone who can help you. VSAC’s resources are valuable!”
Educational Opportunity Center: 30 years helping Vermont adults achieve success
Ready to take the next step in your career? Considering a class, certification, career training, or college program? Whether you’re starting for the first time, returning to school after a gap, or are an avid lifelong learner, VSAC is here to help. The Educational Opportunity Center program at VSAC serves adults who do not yet have a 4-year degree. Most adults served through EOC are the first in their families to go to college and have financial barriers to pursuing their goals beyond high school. VSAC EOC counselors throughout the state help with career exploration, education and training options, and financial aid applications.
Our EOC counselors can help you:
- Plan your career path and explore education options
- Get financial aid to help pay for college or career training
- Set yourself up for success in school
- Learn from our weekly Zoom Room on a variety of topics
Ready to access these services and more? Contact a VSAC EOC team member by calling 877-961-4369. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay in touch. We’re here for you.