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For them, going to school pays

March 29, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A program at Hagerstown Community College has made attending and affording classes easier for Cassaundra Plummer, 23, a single parent raising two children.

Plummer, of Hagerstown, who has a 3-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son, has been enrolled in the administrative assistant program in the college's Job Training Institute since August 2003.

"They are very friendly people who do all they can to help you out," Plummer said Sunday. "It is a very decent program."

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In July 2003, the college started the Job Training Institute to help people with some type of disadvantage, such as being "unemployed or underemployed or a single parent," institute coordinator Lisa Mowen said Sunday.

The program tries to address problems that may seem minor to some people, but could be enough to deter others from attending college, Mowen said.

The help Plummer receives is typical of what is offered to all 240 students in the program, Mowen said.

For example, the institute provides free bus vouchers to qualifying students, including Plummer, providing her with a way to get transportation to classes, Mowen said.

The program also reimburses students for child-care costs, with the amount varying based on the students' expenses, Mowen said.

Plummer said the college reimburses her for about 50 percent of her child-care costs.

The reimbursements have made it easier to afford child care while she works and takes classes, she said.

Plummer has attended the college since January 2002. She has worked in the college's financial aid office since March 2002, she said.

In August 2003, her adviser suggested she take classes through the Job Training Institute since she has children, Plummer said.

Plummer anticipates completing the program and getting the resulting certificate in the fall, she said. Classes for the program include proofreading, customer service and Microsoft Word.

Plummer will try to get a job as an administrative assistant, but she said she's not stopping there. She plans to continue on at the college, using credits earned in the program to get a bachelor's degree.

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