NEWARK, Ohio, April 18, 2016 – Thirty-six-year-old Danielle Russell of Howard is the mother of four boys, ages 12, 9, 6 and 5. When her youngest went into kindergarten this past fall, she decided it was time to do something for herself. Russell started pursuing an associate degree at Central Ohio Technical College's (COTC) Knox campus in Mount Vernon.
"This was the first year with all of my boys in school all day," said Russell. "I had a decision to make. I could look for a full-time job, or I could go to school. Since COTC had a campus near my home, this was my chance to go to school. So, I decided to do it."
Russell thought the digital media design program sounded interesting, so she enrolled in classes. One of the first classes she took was called Fundamentals of Drawing with Instructor Dee Hall.
"I thought I had made a mistake at first," said Russell. "I had never drawn anything in my life. I did not think I could draw."
"[Russell] told me that she had always been a 'mom' and that she didn't know she could draw," said Hall. "But after seeing her work, I couldn't believe it. I thought she had to have had some art classes before now. She told me that she 'didn't even have pencils in the house.' I was so struck by this, I continued to encourage her to stay in art."
"I realized I really could draw, and I really enjoyed it," said Russell. "When I was younger, just out of high school, I never really knew what I liked to do. I never would have pursued this as a younger person. I feel so lucky to have discovered this now, almost like I won the lottery."
Russell is a first generation college student. She hopes her experience of pursuing a degree, completing it and getting a job in a field she loves sets a wonderful example for her young boys.
"Coming to COTC unlocked a whole new world for me," said Russell. "I hope my boys learn that hard work and dedication pay off."
With her family responsibilities, Russell doesn't know if she would have been able to go back to college if there had not been a COTC location in Knox County.
"Without the COTC Knox campus, it would have been much more difficult," said Russell.
Russell is taking four classes this semester, while her kids are at school. She's learning new things every day, and she can't wait to find out what the future has in store for her.
Central Ohio Technical College opened in 1971 and is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2016. COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs, as well as encouraging the professional development of students, staff, faculty and administrators to assist them in achieving their maximum potential. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.