Study Group

“Eastern Gateway gave us more than an education — they gave us lifelong friendships.”

When Cadiz resident Renea Riesen enrolled at Eastern Gateway Community College in 2009, she had no idea just how much her life was about to change. She knew she would ultimately receive her associate’s degree in accounting and have a quality education in which to be proud. But nothing could have prepared her for the other changes that would result from her simply deciding to go back to school.

While many individuals enter college not knowing any of the other students, Riesen was fortunate in that she would be attending EGCC with her son, Will. Little did he know that his life, too, would ultimately change as a direct result of his mother’s desire to return to school.

Shortly after classes began, Riesen decided to join a study group in order to help with the coursework. The group had originally consisted of approximately a dozen students who would often meet in the college’s cafeteria or upstairs library. However, many within the group decided to move on, leaving Riesen to continue her studies with the five remaining members.

From that moment on, nothing would ever be the same.

The study group now consisted of Riesen, Wellsville resident Heather Haught, Bloomingdale resident Hannah Keyser, Barb Provenzano of Steubenville, and Rachel Jolly and Martha Reed of Toronto.

With the exception of Hannah, each went through Phi Theta Kappa together. Renea stated when she first met Hannah, her initial thought was, “She’s cute and would be perfect for Will.” So she introduced the two. Four years later, they are still together and will soon be buying a home.

Towards the end of their college journey, all of the women found themselves in many of the same classes. On test days, they took advantage of the opportunity to go out to local restaurants and establishments where they would relax and simply enjoy each other’s company.

The six graduated together from EGCC in the Class of 2011. Each one accepting their associate’s in accounting, with the exception of Barb, who had switched her major to business. Yet, that has not stopped the six friends from continuing to meet once a month and simply catch up on each other’s’ lives.

Sitting around a table at Applebee’s in late April, the women discussed everything from careers and family to Facebook and buying a new home. It was as if they had known each other since childhood, with the conversation always flowing. There was always laughter. Always encouragement. Always understanding and lifting one another up.

Rachel informed everyone they will soon be invited to her wedding as she had finally selected a wedding date in August. Barb proudly spoke about her four-month-old grandchild whom she adores with all her heart. Each had a story to share, and even though their ages currently range from 21 to their late 50’s, one would never notice any age difference, as they complement each other so well.

As they explain it – “We are all so different, but very complimentary.”

Martha, Hannah and Renea are continuing to receive an education through EGCC as they are expecting to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in December though Chancellor.

All of the women had only positive things to say about the college, including Dr. Ken Knox, who they said was “a wonderful mentor.”

“He always made it interesting and set a good example,” Barb said, with Rachel adding he is, “so dedicated to his profession and a cheerleader for EGCC.”

“He truly cares about his students,” Hannah said.

Barb said that this study group had been Martha’s idea, and with holding down a job, taking care of a family and going to school – it was a support system that helped us get through.”

“Eastern Gateway gave us more than an education – they gave us lifelong friendships,” Heather concluded.

Each and every one of these ladies believes strongly in college students getting involved in study groups if they are given the chance. Not only can you learn something from one another and have people to turn to should you need help, but it’s quite possible that even more wonderful, unforeseen things can come from it.

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