You find them in the north, south, east, and west. In cities, suburbs, and in the country. Community colleges provide turning points for students—especially for folks who might never have considered themselves as potential college students.

It happened to me, and it’s probably happened to people that you know, maybe even to you. We meet a teacher, a counselor, a classmate, and something clicks. We take a course we didn’t expect to like, only to realize that we’ve found our calling. In short, we think differently than we had thought before. We see ourselves differently. Naturally, we start acting differently. Lives turn at such moments. I heard such stories again and again in my nearly 40 years working at a community college.

 Maine’s Alex Chapman is a perfect example. He admits he wasn’t the best student in high school. With little direction or financial stability, college seemed out of reach. But with help from the Waterville Alternative School he applied for financial aid and realized that college was doable.

He credits Kennebec Valley Community College’s TRiO program with helping him navigate college life and understand how to take full advantage of what KVCC could offer him. He joined the college’s new honors program and, as part of his studies, designed a program to increase college-going rates for low-income, first-generation college students.

“Before KVCC I was never really interested in school, but at KVCC I gained a real thirst for education,” he says. “It was my KVCC family that helped me stay in college. They tutored me, gave me courage, made me proud of my background, and never gave up on me.”

Alex has now transferred to the University of Southern Maine where he is studying political science after spending the summer of 2017 as a Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholar at the University of Maine School of Law. He wants to help students like himself, who are low-income and first-generation college, by staying in his community and getting involved in local and state politics.

Bravo to Alex! His way of seeing himself turned completely around. We haven’t heard the end of his story.

Not all changes happen in community college, but many do. Bravo to the community colleges across America!

Got a turning point you’d like to share here? Please let us know what happened to reset your course in life.