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"MACC’s nursing program was difficult, but the instructors really care about the students. They told us, ‘We don’t want average people taking care of us, so we’re making sure you’re exceptional nurses.’ And we are!”

When Quenna Kovar awoke in the ICU after being life-flighted from a car wreck, it just so happened that her nurse was an MACC alum. In the haze of her pain, she remembers quite clearly being excited to watch the nurse caring for her injuries knowing that she would be starting the MACC Associate Degree Nursing Program in just a few months and that someday she would be returning the favor to her own patients. That was in 2007 and Quenna Kovar made good on her promise to return the favor. She is now a circulating nurse in the Operating Room at Boone Hospital and one of her main jobs is patient advocacy. She educates patients about their procedures, sits with them through out the surgery and cares for them post-op.

Quenna’s hugely rewarding career began with certified nurse assistant (CNA) classes she took in high school at the Columbia Career Center.

“I had an awesome nursing instructor at the Columbia Career Center that really made nursing real for me,” she said.

Using her CNA license, Quenna got a job at Boone Hospital as a nurse tech. She worked with nurses and learned what they did on a daily basis. Watching them administer meds and care for patients fueled her desire to continue her education.

Quenna chose Moberly Area Community College because she was an A+ student from Hickman High School. She basically earned her nursing degree for free through that scholarship. MACC was also close to home for her. She attended the Columbia location for her general education classes and then commuted to Moberly for the actual nursing program.

MACC’s Allied Health Programs are notoriously difficult. And Quenna’a experience was not unique.

“The curriculum was very difficult, but it made the transition from nurse tech to RN very easy. Over the course of the program, we took hundreds of difficult tests, however at the end of the program when we had to take the big NCLEX exam, it made it less stressful. And I passed on the first time,” Quenna explained.

“So if you’re excited about going to nursing school, it’s worth it. All of the hours and the tests and everything you put into it is definitely worth it when you’re sitting there with your patient, holding their hand telling them it will be okay, telling them what to expect in surgery and afterwards, and teaching them how to take care of themselves when they go home. The gratitude the patient and family gives you makes it all worth it,” said Quenna.

Quenna and many of her fellow MACC Nursing Program alums that work at Boone Hospital are in the process of earning their Bachelor’s of Nursing at area four-year institutions.

“The instructors in MACC’s Nursing Program really do care about the students. They told us, ‘We don’t want average people taking care of us, so we’re making sure you’re exceptional nurses.’ And we are!” commented Quenna.


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“My job is simply to restore my patients’ dignity. I give them independence, and in return they give me an exciting reason to come to work everyday.”

Tina Montgomery is a classic case of corporate downsizing being a blessing in disguise.

Tina earned her bachelors in physical education, but somehow ended up owning video stores and working in the banking industry instead.

At the age of 24, Tina watched her mother lose her battle with cancer. During the treatment process, she witnessed Occupational Therapists working with her mother to provide her with tools to give her dignity and a better quality of life. Tina was fascinated and forever changed by this experience.

After her mother’s death on March 18, 1986, she and her sister began a volunteer hospice program in her memory. The Fitzgibbon Mary Montgomery Hospice is still a non-profit hospice that is part of the Fitzgibbon Hospital in Marshall, MO today. It was one of the first hospice centers in the state of Missouri to receive Medicare certification in 1993 and is highly respected in the region.

Tina spent the next 17 years in banking working in nearly every position available. Unfortunately, she ended up a mortgage loan officer in 2009 when the housing bubble burst and was downsized rather quickly.

By that point, Tina was a breast cancer survivor herself, a single mom with a 11-year-old son and she decided it was time to quit daydreaming about being an Occupational Therapist and find a program to enter.

She found MACC’s program through the Missouri Health Professions Consortium on our website and eagerly began classes. Tina graduated with the Consortium’s first OTA class in 2010 and has been in heaven ever since. She is now changing lives and restoring dignity and quality of life everyday to the patients at Golden Living Rehab in Mexico, MO.

One of her special patients, Frank Kramer, 86, said, “Before Tina, I was a quadriplegic looking for a way to do myself in. I just wanted to die. She worked with me for hours a day and gave me many stern talks about how I could make it. Now I’m walking and moving just like the next guy.”

Tina is giving people a reason to live, and they are giving her the joy she has been longing to have everyday since 1986. Tina gives back to the OTA program every year, by speaking to prospective and current students, assisting MHPC with the interviewing process.


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“MACC gave me my first real lab experience. Now I’m doing medical research that will someday save lives.”

Engineering is in Aaron Wood’s DNA. His grandfather, father and brother are all either engineers or studying to become them. So when it came to choosing a profession, it was the logical choice. The only big decision was in what field he would focus.

Moberly Area Community College helped Aaron narrow his options and his professors fueled his growing interest in biological science.

“When it came to picking a college, I looked at all of the options in my area within a hundred miles and each of the colleges had their own tuition rates. MACC had the most affordable plan of all the colleges so it was a pretty easy pick,” Aaron explained, “Plus they had a site in Columbia which was very close to where I live, so that became my first college experience.”

After his first semester, Aaron began taking classes at the MACC Moberly campus to focus on his pre-engineering courses. During this time, he began considering what field of engineering he would choose. Growing up, he had wanted to be a doctor. He could combine both professions through biomedical engineering.

To test this theory, he took Dr. Suzanne Martin’s biology course and that semester opened a whole new world to him. Dr. Martin asked Aaron to be her lab assistant, a golden opportunity for a guy who was considering spending his life in a lab.

His eyes light up as he explains the variety of experiments he got to perform for the first time in her lab.

“We had forestry experiments, we had mold, I mean every biological aspect you could think of. And I loved that course so much that I wanted to get more into biology…being Dr. Martin’s lab assistant truly piqued my interest in lab work. I got to do my own experiments. I got to teach some of the lab sections and lead some of the outside experiments. It was a great time and really got me involved in the lab,” he explained.

Aaron transferred to the University of Missouri-Columbia after earning his Associate of Science degree at MACC. He was awarded several scholarships, including the Stamper Scholarship, which paid for his undergraduate work at MU.

“The lab experience at MACC really gave me an introduction into what I would be working with at MU. The University of Missouri is performing cutting-edge research and in order to get into that you have to have a good lab background, and I received that at MACC,” said Aaron.

For the last several years, he has been working with Dr. Sheila Grant in the biomaterials and biophotonics lab. He will soon be published in the American College of Surgeons for his work on hernia mesh polymers. This is a huge honor because it’s uncommon for an undergraduate researcher to be first author on a published paper.

His success at MU opened the door for a paid research internship during the summer of 2012. Aaron conducted pancreatic cancer cell research at Iowa State University. His work focused on ways to detect pancreatic cancer at earlier stages with the goal of saving more lives from what is now a death sentence diagnosis.

“For future students looking at engineering as a possible career, I would definitely recommend the pre-engineering program at MACC. It’s a great introduction. You get the math, the science, the English. All of your pre-engineering classes are taken care of so when you transfer into a four-year university you already have two years of work done at a more affordable rate. I’m thankful for the investment the professors at MACC have made in my career,” said Aaron.


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“I had so many wonderful teachers growing up that it just seemed natural for me to jump into teaching, and MACC’s AAT program was a perfect start for me.”

Erica Robuck is not much taller than the first graders she teaches. In fact, she jokes that she won’t ever be able to teach grades much higher because all of the kids will tower over her. But really that’s okay, because when you watch Erica in action with her students, you quickly get the idea that she’s right where she’s supposed to be.

“I grew up in the Cairo area. I actually attended school in this building from kindergarten all the way up until twelfth grade. I was very involved in sports and all kinds of clubs and I had so many wonderful teachers that it just always felt right to me, they inspired me to want to be a teacher. Plus, I enjoy helping others and I enjoy children so it just felt natural for me to jump into teaching,” Erica explained.

So when it came time to leave the safe confines of the only school she’d ever know, Moberly Area Community College was an easy choice.

“I chose MACC as my first college mainly because of the A+ Program. I knew that I wanted to save as much money as possible going to school and MACC provided a way for me to do that. It was also close to home and had a good reputation, so it was the place for me,” explained Erica.

Since Erica already knew she was passionate about teaching, she immediately joined the Associate of Arts in Teaching degree program. The AAT program aligns curriculum with all Missouri colleges and allows students to enter a four-year college or university education department as a junior.

“Transferring from MACC to Central Methodist was easier than I expected. I was able to get in touch with an advisor from CMU and tell her what classes I was taking at MACC and through communicating back and forth we were able to get my schedules aligned and the transfer was just seamless.”

MACC gave Erica the start she needed to become a teacher. The first classes she took related to her field were at MACC. They prepared her for her four-year college and ultimately for teaching.

“Whether you choose a two or four-year college, you can get a quality education at both. The key is just being willing to put in the time and effort it takes to be successful. College is about focusing on what you want to do when you get out into the real world. So you need to make the best of that opportunity.”


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“The instructors at MACC took a small town kid like me under their wing and inspired me to be a more accessible and family-oriented physician. It was the right choice for my first college.”

Larry Nichols knew he wanted to be a doctor. There were no soul-searching moments of angst his senior year of high school about what he was going to be. The real question was where he would go to college to become a doctor.

His parents were hard-working people but honestly, at the end of the month, there just wasn’t enough money for a college fund with his name on it. Larry had the grades and earned some scholarships but they still weren’t enough for him to pay for a 4-year institution beginning his freshman year.

So with admitted disappointment, he did the smart thing. He lived at home, kept his after school job and signed up for classes at Moberly Area Community College.

“To be honest, when I first thought about having to still live with my parents and work a part-time job while all of my friends went off to four-year institutions, I was a little bit disappointed. But very quickly I found out that Moberly Area Community College is truly a blessing. It allowed me to stay at home, continue to work and save money and get a great education that prepared me to go on to a four-year college,” recalled Larry.

He transferred to Truman University with multiple scholarships and went on to medical school with much less debt.

Dr. Nichols is now a board certified family practice physician at the Hannibal Clinic where he is one of the owners. His patients are loyal friends of his. One of the reasons he choose family practice medicine is because you do just that. Treat the whole family and you end up becoming part of their lives especially in a small community like Hannibal where Dr. Nichols is heavily involved in the local sports scene with his two sons. His involvement in the community and his kids’ lives is evidenced in the framed photos of them lining the walls of his exam rooms and private office. Patients get the latest update on what the boys are doing just by taking a glance around the room.

This kind of comfortable honesty and individualized experience is something Dr. Nichols said he learned from professors at MACC.

“I remember that it didn’t matter the day or time or even the place, I could see one of my MACC professors on the street in downtown Moberly and ask a question about a class, and he or she would be happy to sit down right there and help me. Several of the science teachers took me under their wing and told me what I needed to do if I wanted to be a physician. They encouraged me that even though I was a small town kid to go out there and do what they knew I could do. I figured out quickly that that’s the kind of doctor I wanted to be for my patients, accessible and interested in more than just their physical needs. It’s why family practice was a perfect fit for me,” he explained.

His advice to students thinking about college and especially pre-med is simple. MACC is a great start for your general education. You can literally start at MACC and go anywhere. It’s also a great place to get involved. He suggests that students take advantage of the opportunities that clubs and organizations offer to volunteer in the community because you must have at least 200 hours of job shadowing before medical schools will even look at your application. So it’s essential to get the grades but to also be a well-rounded person.

“I know when I first started thinking about going to community college I thought I was going to be missing out on something. And it just wasn’t true. Community college has so much to offer you. There so many organizations to get involved in and basketball games to attend. Looking back, I still believe I made the right choice,” Dr. Nichols said.


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