Barton Community College trustees heard one student’s “Barton Experience” when Keanna Craig addressed the board Tuesday evening.
“I’d rather be here than be at home,” the Flint, Mich., native said, fighting tears. “Barton changed my life, and really saved my life. No telling where I’d be today if I were still home. Thank you so much for bringing me here. I really love this place. I feel safe.”
Craig said she grew up in a rough neighborhood and in abusive environments, where a walk to the store was dangerous. When she came to Barton for a campus tour, she signed up the next day.
When asked what made her decide on Barton, she said it was the people.
“You guys are so nice,” Craig said. “You guys do a good job. You’re united, not divided. It’s nice that you guys are a team. You actually care about the students here. From the staff to the teachers, you guys are really caring and loving. I came from a high school where the teachers didn’t care about us. They would even say they were just there for a paycheck.”
She described how teachers, coaches and staff have helped with everything from bringing her grades up to applying for financial aid. She received a scholarship from the Barton Foundation and a TRIO grant for first-generation college students. She repaid the grant’s community service obligation by helping at a student orientation.
The TRIO program also provided Craig with a mentor and workshops so she could learn about goal setting and financial aid.
Craig is a member of Barton’s women’s basketball team, but has been dealing with an ACL injury. Last summer she stayed at Barton for physical rehabilitation, and was befriended by math instructor Sara Bretches.
“She really helped me with my math skills,” Craig said, tearing up again. “Ms. Bretches” also became a mentor, providing an off-campus home for the summer and giving advice about being responsible.
Athletic Director Trevor Rolfs said Craig’s story is representative of his philosophy for student athletes, that they develop themselves academically, socially and athletically, in that order.
“She’s on track to graduate,” he said. “Keanna has met her challenges head-on and we are very proud of that. There are dozens of stories like this. Keanna has been a great example of success.”
Each month, the BCC trustees hear a monitoring report on one of the board’s eight encompassing goals, known as “ends.”
The end known as “Barton Experience” states, “Students will be positive about their Barton experience. In exit surveys and other feedback report mechanisms, students will speak positively of their experiences at Barton. Students will cite individual, personal, caring attention from faculty and staff as a significant factor in how they perceive their experience at Barton.”
Craig’s discussion with trustees was part of the ends report. College administrators also shared the latest post-graduation survey results. Students fill out the surveys as one of the final steps before receiving a diploma. Responses were about 90 percent positive or better for most services.
One area where students have been less positive about their “Barton Experience” was financial aid, but program director Myrna Perkins reported dramatic improvement over the past two years.
Perkins said she now spends one day a week at Barton’s Fort Riley campus helping students with financial aid questions.
“We need to provide consistent service to all of our students,” Perkins said. On and off campus, as well as online, students depend on the financial aid office. Her office also improved its processes, Perkins said. Financial aid’s satisfaction rating with students improved to 70 percent in 2015 and last year the rating was 90 percent positive.