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Faces of STLCC

Wildwood Campus

Change in College Plans Leads to Self-Discovery

Nina Baumann

Sometimes life doesn’t always go the way you plan. Nina Baumann was enrolled at the University of Missouri-Columbia for her freshmen year when she noticed that she was having trouble taking notes in class. “When I would look over them, there would be all these gaps,” she said. “And I couldn’t figure out what was going on.” Then one day during the summer, she stepped out of her bedroom door and couldn’t remember where she was. “I called my mom and we went to the doctor right away. I had tests and they discovered that I had petit mal epilepsy.”

“At first I was relieved that it wasn’t something worse. They had talked to us about brain cancer.” Then reality set in. “I couldn’t drive for six months after I was diagnosed, or after they changed my medication, so I couldn’t go back to Mizzou,” she said. Her parents gave her two options: take the year off or attend STLCC at Wildwood.
“I knew that a lot of students who take a year off never go back to school, so I decided to go to Wildwood.” When she got there, she said that her instructors were really understanding and helpful. 

When asked if she was disappointed at having to go to the community college, Nina gave an emphatic “No!” “I knew classes wouldn’t be easy. My dad went to {STLCC] Meramec, and my mom took summer courses at Meramec too. They told me that I shouldn’t expect things to be easier than Mizzou. They knew from their own experiences.” And she also decided that she would not let her epilepsy diagnosis become a crutch.

She knew what to expect in class. What she didn’t expect was to learn two very valuable lessons during her time at STLCC.

“Early on I met with one of the advisors from the University of Missouri-St. Louis about transferring, and I realized that my grades didn’t really reflect who I was as a person. She looked at my grades and told me that I might have trouble getting admitted to UMSL. I realized then that my grades were what they saw – not who I really was, and that was a turning point. I knew I had to do better.”

Around the same time, she was taking an English class at the college taught by Dr. Tim Roach. “He’s like a sneaky parent. He expected a lot and gave me a lot of opportunities to do well. And then he encouraged me to take advantage of those opportunities without pushing me. Everybody had high expectations, but nobody put it out there like Dr. Roach did. If he told me I had to do it, I wouldn’t have. He just laid it out in front of me and made me understand that he thought I could really do well. So I looked at everything and thought, ‘Hey, I can do this.’” And she did.

Baumann graduated in spring of 2010 after earning her associate’s degree of Art in Teaching and was named the graduation speaker for the Wildwood campus. She transferred to the University of Missouri-St. Louis after earning the Chancellors Transfer Scholarship, which paid part of her tuition for her undergraduate degree.
In December, she will graduate with highest honors from UMSL with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. She has made the Dean’s list every single semester since enrolling. “My friends are kind of shocked. They never perceived me as really smart. And now I’m graduating magna cum laude.”

After working with Dr. Roach in his classroom last spring, she has decided that she would really like to become a college professor. In the spring, she will pursue her Master’s in Adult Education and then hopes to go on to obtain a doctorate degree.

When asked what piece of advice she would give to current students, she recommended two things. “First, everyone should try their hardest. My mom painted a quote in my room when I was little that said, ‘Every job is a self portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.’ That’s what I try to live by.” And the second thing she offered was that every student should meet Pam McIntyre, president of the Wildwood campus. “She’s the nicest person ever. She’s just a really exquisite individual.”

And finally, there was one other unexpected discovery that Nina made while she was here. “I found my best friend, Anna, here. We just started talking one day when we were eating lunch. Now I kind of have a weird telepathy for her. She lives out of town, but when she comes back, I know she’s here before she even calls me.”

By: Debbie Ward