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For Union, college success is a matter of time (management)

Kelly Union (left) is studying respiratory therapy at St. Louis Community College.

Kelly Union frequently jokes that she was tricked into being an honors student at St. Louis Community College. 

How did it happen? In spring 2014, she was taking Daniel Yezbick's English 102 course at the Forest Park campus. Her first major paper was to discuss the theme of one of the books she read in the class. She chose "Blankets," by Craig Thompson. It was the first book they read in class, and she found herself identifying closely with the main character. Union admittedly waited until the last minute to do the six-page paper, and ended up in the library quite stressed out that week

After reading her paper, Yezbick pulled Union aside after class and told her that he thought her paper was excellent, and asked if she would be interested in submitting it for honors credit. She thought this sounded like an exciting idea, and she agreed. Yezbick then informed her that the deadline had already passed, so she would have to complete it soon. It sounded easy until he told her that she needed to double the length of the paper, and had only a couple of days to do it.

Deadlines were a struggle for Union that semester due to an already-demanding schedule. She had no idea how she could possibly elaborate any more on the topic. Union spent that entire week in the library doing more research, and asked three different people to edit her paper before submitting it.

“I am so thankful for friends with amazing editing skills,” she said.

Union submitted the paper and received honors credit. Those were the two most stressful weeks of school she had ever experienced; at least until she was admitted into the Respiratory Therapy program in fall 2015.                 

To say this semester has been challenging for Union is an understatement. The Respiratory Therapy (RT) program has tested her skills in ways she never thought possible – from memorizing a sizable list of drugs in pharmacology to basic skills like time management.

“I think the biggest lesson I have learned since coming to Forest Park has certainly been time management,” she said. “The cost and convenience, along with the guarantee of being employable in a field I enjoy within two years, you really can’t beat it. I’ve enjoyed my experience so far.”

After writing an 11-page paper in less than one week, Union never wanted to feel that kind of stress again. So she needed to make sure she stayed on top of things.

One of the first things RT instructor Lindsay Fox said to the class was that students cannot cram for the courses. As future healthcare professionals, the lives of others will depend on the student's’ retention of this knowledge. Union has learned that cramming does not bring about permanent retention; only temporary relief of test anxiety.

In the RT program, students have at least one exam every week, sometimes two, with quizzes and performance evaluations in between. There is no such thing as an "easy" week. At any given time, students are expected to recall pieces of knowledge that they may have learned months ago. Every topic builds on to the next topic.

Union is thankful that she has learned the importance of time management and being thorough in her studies early. She knows it will help her be a better respiratory care professional in the future. After completing her associate degree, Union plans to work in the field and possibly continue on to medical school.