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Learning happens at all ages

It’s never too late to follow your dreams. At 56 years old, Boris Cooke began a new journey towards his degree at North Central State College.

After several jobs at local businesses, he realized he wasn’t reaching his full potential. “Some of the employees at my previous jobs were making more money than me, however, they were doing the same job. Most of them had their degrees or certifications that I didn’t have,” Cooke explains. “I wanted to go to school and be the first in my family to get a degree.”

In 2013, Cooke went back to school. That’s when he met Chris Barker, Assistant Professor of Industrial Technology. After a long conversation, Cooke enrolled in the Manufacturing Technology Operations Management program.

Barker applauds Cooke for his hard work and determination to improve his life. She says, “Boris has grown a lot and his skills have improved significantly. He is very motivated and has a heart for people. He has also helped motivate the other students to finish their studies. He is very inspiring.”

Within the program, Cooke has utilized the virtual welding machine at the Kehoe Center. The computer-based training system is an educational tool designed to allow students to practice their welding technique in a simulated environment.

“I’ve been working on the virtual welding system a lot,” Cooke says. “You can see everything virtually through the helmet and it helps to guide you through the training. It shows you how to weld safely, then it grades your performance. It has helped me improve my skills so I can be prepared for the workforce.”

“The program is great,” Cooke explains. “There’s nothing you can’t do. You just have to strive and want to do it.”

Cooke has utilized the many programs North Central State College provides to help students succeed. He frequents the tutoring center. “I can’t always study at home,” he says. “I have grandkids running around and many distractions. Also, sometimes my computer isn’t compatible with the programs so I visit the tutoring center for help.”

Cooke is also a member of TRIO, a federally funded grant program through the U.S. Department of Education. It provides and coordinates a variety of educational services for students who are first-generation, low income and/or students with disabilities. Cooke says the TRIO staff was instrumental in his success as a student. He says, “The staff and Barb Keener have both been a huge strength behind my learning. I couldn’t have done this without their support.”

Cooke will graduate in May 2019. “North Central State College has helped me make better decisions for my life,” he says. “It’s good to know that there are people that can help if you want to be helped. There is tremendous support from instructors and they never give up on you.”