COTC Guides Veteran as She Soars Toward New Goal

NEWARK, Ohio, November 11, 2019 – Suzanne Smith isn't one for staying still.

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Whether she's traveling the globe working on communications and navigation for the U.S. Air Force, keeping busy raising a family or attending classes to become a registered nurse, Smith is a self-dubbed "do-er," and she's found her fit at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC). 

Born and raised in California, Smith enlisted in the Air Force after high school with an aim to "travel and see the world," she says. "I've always loved aircraft and I basically just like being challenged. So, I went and read the book at the recruiter's office about all the jobs that are in the Air Force and I picked the one I wanted." 

That job — in the field known as avionics — took Smith everywhere from North Dakota to Alabama to Portugal to Germany over the course of her six-year military career. When she and her husband returned to civilian life after his retirement from the military, the couple and their two sons settled in central Ohio; that's when Smith discovered COTC.

Though she had attended classes at different universities over the last several years, Smith had never been in one place long enough to complete her degree, but she knew she had to do it. COTC's flexible-yet-challenging program perfectly suited her goals.

Smith chose to study nursing because she loves the challenge and working with people; she especially has a passion to serve fellow veterans and hopes someday to further her education with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, with the goal of eventually becoming a nurse practitioner. 

"It's been a great program for me to be able to transition back in, and it's been such a smooth process that it hasn't been difficult on me or my family," Smith says.

Her educational experience at COTC, she adds, has given her a solid start — even compared to some of the larger universities she attended.

"I have been very impressed, especially with the nursing program," Smith says. "I think that the caliber of the nursing program courses are on par or above anything I've ever experienced."

Smith was able to use funding from the GI Bill to pay for her courses, which will culminate in May 2021 when she receives her associate degree.

As she continues her coursework, Smith is grateful for the way COTC has facilitated the educational process for veterans like herself, from connecting her with an advisor who works specifically with veterans to processing benefits in a timely manner.

"Each student's journey is unique," says Charlene Ross, COTC academic advisor. "My role is to meet students where they are when entering COTC and help move them toward an educational goal one semester at a time. It all begins by reminding students they are not alone in this journey. Their advisor, as well as the college as a whole, are here for them. The strength of that foundation will put them in the power seat to understand their direction and help them take ownership of it."

With the foundation she's building at COTC, Smith is confident she can enter and make a difference in a career she is passionate about — something that's sure to keep her busy well into the future.

"I couldn't be happier that I decided to come back and do this," she says.

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. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.