Graduate! St. Louis Gives Adult Learners a Second Career

Program participant from the East Central College receives Outstanding Student Award

June 24, 2013 | 2 min reading time

This article is 9 years old. It was published on June 24, 2013.


The Graduate! St. Louis (GSL) Workforce Consortium was established in 2010 through a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Administered by SLATE, GSL is a partnership between community colleges and career centers across the bi-state St. Louis Metropolitan Area. As of now, GSL has far exceeded its original goals and helped over 3,500 individuals return to school and obtain the degrees, credentials or certificates of value they need to succeed.

SLATE recently learned from GSL partner East Central College (ECC) that Jay Schafler of Villa Ridge has received their Outstanding Student Award. Schafler was able to return to college after an injury ended his previous career as an auto mechanic with the support of his family and financial assistance through Graduate! St. Louis. Jay majored in pre-engineering at ECC and is now positioned to attend the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla next year and pursue a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering.

Cookie Hays, vice president of student development at East Central, commented on Schafler’s reputation on campus as respectful, hard-working, considerate and driven to succeed. “Jay knew it was important to find ways to become actively involved and to connect with others on campus,” said Hays. “He found that connection through the A HERO Club, a student organization which focuses on helping adult students stay in school.”

Eilene Acheson, ECC retention coordinator, noted that Schafler was always the level head in the crowd who stood up for what was right. “He had a lot to balance, but he always kept things under control,” she said. The [A HERO] club gave him a place to make a difference by helping other students. No task was too big for him to tackle.”

Dr. Barry Bookout, associate professor of pre-engineering, knows that entering an academic field of higher mathematics and advanced science as an adult must have been daunting for Schafler. “I respect him tremendously for taking on such a big challenge,” Bookout said. “He could have chosen something less taxing than engineering, but he was determined to do his best.”

Schafler received the annual Outstanding Student Award for 2013, the highest award given to any graduate of East Central College, at the 43rd annual spring commencement was held on May 18. SLATE extends our congratulations to him, the faculty and staff of East Central College, and everyone involved in Graduate! St. Louis who is helping give adult learners like Jay a second career.

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