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Faces of STLCC

Florissant Valley Campus

From Troubled Teenager to Student Ambassador

Alex Arnold

He was a troubled teenager who was home-schooled during his last two years of high school -- at the insistence of his school principal. Against all odds, he completed two years worth of work in one, enabling him to graduate a year early from high school. Yet, he was certain that college was not for him.

Alexander Arnold had started a work-study program while still attending high school and was convinced that he wanted to remain in the automotive field. Certain that all he had to do was work hard in order to be successful like his boss who had all the nice fixings, Alex continued to work in collision repair for almost five years before having a rude awakening.

“I suddenly realized it took quite some time for my boss to get to where he was,” said Alex. “It dawned on me that it didn’t make any sense working 40 hours a week only to get a week of vacation each year, but I still failed to see the value of education.” 

At that point, Alex’s love for the great wilderness spurred him to move to Colorado where he worked on the San Juan mountain range for a few months before meeting a friend who changed his life.

“Bill said to me that I needed to go back to school to get my degree because I wasn’t worth anything if I didn’t have paper qualifications,”  Alex said.

Shortly afterward, Alex was injured on the job and decided to return home to Missouri. While transitioning, he heard Bill’s voice saying, "Go back to school," and decided to visit Forest Park to find out more about the programs available.

“I didn’t think I could afford it because my parents were not able to help me with college expenses, but Advising at Forest Park informed me about Pell Grants and guided me through the whole application process,” said Alex. “Before I knew it, I was starting the spring semester at Forest Park.” 

Alex excelled during his first semester and made the Dean’s List. “My uncle, who owns his own produce farm in North County, offered to help out, so I decided to transfer to the Florissant Valley campus since the commute was much easier,”  he said.

Alex worked on his uncle’s farm in exchange for lodging and transportation.
After transferring from Forest Park, he decided to join the Florissant Valley Student Ambassadors because he wanted to be more involved in something else besides classes.

“It makes me feel more involved, helps keep me on track and has taught me how to tap into resources here on campus,” he said.

The following semester, Alex became a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges.

“Alex has been a great joy to work with because he’s responsible, sincere, has a passion for education and loves helping others,” said Janice Fitzgerald, Student Ambassador adviser and enrollment management coordinator at Florissant Valley. “As a student ambassador, he goes above and beyond to complete a task, and always ensures that his actions have a positive impact on the team he is working with.”

When asked what his next stop is, he smiled politely and said, “I plan to move out West to either Boise State University or the University of Montana.”

Alex is passionate about the outdoors and plans to pursue a degree in environmental conservation. He firmly believes that attending a community college has given him the opportunity to explore different disciplines at an affordable price. When not attending classes, Alex works for Fitzgerald in student enrollment and is a part-time carpenter at a property management company in Chesterfield. Alex has since moved out of his uncle’s home and has his own apartment and car.

“A lot of impossible situations have now turned into great possibilities because of the direction I have chosen to take,” he said. "Education has definitely helped me expand my horizons, and I am now beginning to see what the world has to offer. Where will I be five years from now? I don’t know specifically, but I am pretty sure that it will have to do with environmental conservation.”

By: Rachel Gomez