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Faces of STLCC

Wildwood Campus

Former Four-Sport Athlete Strives for 4.0

He’s the redhead that you see sitting at the tutor table. He’s the president of the History Club, a member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, and recipient of 2010 Award for Excellence in History. He considers himself an excellent reader and a lover of history. But that’s not always how he defined himself.

Before coming to St. Louis Community College, this Minnesota-native was a four-sport athlete, Homecoming King and someone who didn’t always see the connection between his education and his future success.

“I started working after high school because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” explains Jamison Rybak, a STLCC-Wildwood student. “I didn’t think that college was necessarily going to help me achieve my future goals.” But after a series of jobs, he began to realize that his life wasn’t going in the direction he wanted it to go. “My mother is a teacher. She always emphasized the importance of education. When I looked around at all the people I highly respect, I realized that education was the common denominator among all of them.”

“I knew I wanted to go back to school, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money figuring out what to major in. I also knew that there were too many distractions at home. So I moved to Chesterfield to live with my uncle and attend STLCC-Wildwood,” Jamison explained. He is currently pursuing an associate degree in business administration and hopes to receive his bachelor’s degree in history and accounting.

When Jamison talks about his success as a student, it’s obvious that his mindset has changed dramatically from when he was in high school. His strategies for success include reading every day, always attending class, asking his teachers for help and finding others who have the same goals. And his first priority is always to learn. “I used to think of tests as a ‘coin flip.’ I was never sure how I would do. Now I think of tests as an opportunity to show what I’ve learned and it’s taken the stress away from them. If you pay attention in class and do the work, it shouldn’t be hard to pass. Grades are supposed to reflect what you learn.”

Jamison also credits his success to the accessibility of the teachers at Wildwood. “I can’t think of a teacher who I couldn’t approach outside of class. They all seem to be in the right place, doing the right thing.” And he feels the same way about the tutors. “I used to think tutors were only for when I was stuck. But now I use them to clarify and double check my understanding. They’re always available and they’re great.”

Jamison also says that any time he’s tempted to skip a class he asks himself if there’s anything better that he could be doing. “What am I going to do instead of class? Eat? Get on the computer? Sleep? I always end up thinking that none of those things are going to be better for me than going to class.”

Success in the classroom has led Jamison to get involved in other activities at the college. Dr. John Glen, one of Jamison’s instructors, is the sponsor for the History Club, and Jamison found his passion for history contagious.  Jamison was one of the founding members of the club and also its president. He is also a member of the Wildwood Student Government Association (WSGA). Last fall he traveled to Potosi to the C.O.L.T. conference where he met students from other campuses and learned communication and leadership skills. This spring, Jamison was part of a student delegation from the college who traveled to Washington, DC for the American Student Association of Community Colleges (ASACC) National Conference. There he had the chance to speak with Senators and Representatives about funding for Pell Grants and unexpectedly had the opportunity to hear a motion being presented to the Supreme Court. For this history buff, it was an opportunity of a lifetime.“It was a surreal experience, one that I’ll never forget. It was amazing to see something I’ve read a lot about, the Supreme Court, in action right in front of me.”

For Jamison, it’s been a 180 degree turnaround, but the formula is a simple one. “There’s help. There are students who are on the same track, doing the same thing. What you put in is what you get out. Work hard, but enjoy it too.”

By: Debbie Ward