CMT (Country Music Television) and West Virginia University at Parkersburg are featuring three students who will share their success stories at a special concert this Thursday, May 21. The event is part of the cable network’s CMT Empowering Education initiative with the goal of encouraging area residents to enroll in college. The concert will feature country music artist and Broadway star Rachel Potter with Parkersburg native Matt Enik opening the show.
CMT asked WVU Parkersburg to create testimonial videos showcasing student success stories. The videos will be unveiled at the start of the event and will later be posted on the CMT Empowering Education website. Videos feature Brandon Durback, Angela Sayre Proffit and Diana Sprouse. They will participate in a live on-stage panel interview before the concert.
Durback is a Jackson County native who said he decided to further his education after high school in order to get a good job.
“I talked to some friends, and they asked if I had thought about college,” said Durback. “They had been coming here to WVU-P and told me about the great people up here and how they actually want to help you and want to see you succeed.”
He enrolled in multi-craft technology and industrial technology at WVU Parkersburg.
“I’ve always wanted to get a better job. I’ve seen my parents struggle with money problems, and I wanted to get a better job so I could provide for me and my family someday. My parents always taught me to work hard, do your best and make the best grades you can,” said Durback. “To anyone thinking about college, definitely go for it. WVU-P is the best because the instructors here genuinely care.”
Proffit is a Jackson County native who moved to Wood County due to her former husband’s job. After she and her husband divorced, she enrolled in a business program at WVU Parkersburg.
“I had two little kids at home who hadn’t started school yet, and they offer a lot of online classes,” said Proffit. “I wanted to get a better job to be able to give my kids a better life. In my last semester, I needed a math class, and the only class I could fit into my schedule was shop math. I realized I had been going to the wrong part of the college all that time.”
She found her calling in WVU Parkersburg’s hands-on technology programs. She graduated Saturday, May 16 with three certificates (residential/commercial electricity, HVAC, energy assessment and management) and four associate degrees (energy assessment and management, solar energy technology, business administration, business technology).
“I got divorced as I was finishing the business program, and anybody that’s been through that can tell you, it changes everything,” said Proffit. “I had to find my passion. I like to build things. I like to make things. My passion lies in the trades.”
A Ritchie County resident, Sprouse just became WVU Parkersburg’s first diversified agriculture graduate. She hopes to one day own and operate her own greenhouse business.
“I’m the oldest of three, and my family members always got together and grew and garden. Farming and getting connected with the earth is something that I enjoy,” said Sprouse. “What keeps me motivated to get through school is, first of all, my family support. Then I come here to the college, and I have a team of support members who help us and nurture us. I’ve never met a faculty member that would not offer their services.”
Sprouse is a mother of four and considered a nontraditional student.
“I would advise anybody at any age to go to college and fulfill their dreams, said Sprouse. “I have heard other older people say, ‘Well I’d like to go to college, but I’m too old now.’ I say, get that out of your mind. This college is so supportive. Believe it or not, there are a lot of us. There are different ranges of diversity here. Live your dreams and do it.”
The May 21 event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a fair showcasing WVU Parkersburg’s technology programs, followed by a concert in the College Activities Center. Admission to the concert is free with ticket. Tickets are available at the WVU Parkersburg business office or at the door.
The partnership with WVU Parkersburg is the result of a three-year collaboration that CMT and the American Association of Community Colleges announced earlier this year aiming to raise visibility for education and rural workforce struggles. The pilot year activities focus on recruitment and retention efforts with 14 community colleges nationwide.
CMT Empowering Education launched in 2012 to encourage viewers, no matter their age, to enroll or re-enroll in school to reach their full potential. CMTEmpoweringEducation.com offers crucial information and resources for prospective students, including tips for how to finance their education, a timeline for applying to school and access to a multitude of scholarship resources. By answering a few simple questions, users receive a customized action plan for completing school in a way that fits their individual needs and lifestyle.
About CMT Empowering Education
CMT Empowering Education is a comprehensive educational campaign that provides an online resource, www.CMTEmpoweringEducation.com, to aid CMT viewers in overcoming the most commonly perceived obstacles to furthering education. The site aggregates the multitude of existing quality information in one easy-to-navigate central location, and creates an individualized education action plan for each user.
CMT Empowering Education is founded on the same education research and insights that led to the creation of Get Schooled, a non-profit organization dedicated to using media, technology and popular culture to improve attendance. Get Schooled was formed through a partnership between Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Advising partners for the CMT Empowering Education campaign include Achieving the Dream, the Association of Career and Technical Education, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for Workforce and Economic Development at the American Association of Community Colleges, National Skills Coalition and Skills for America’s Future (the Aspen Institute).