Wednesday, April 15, 2009
SECOND WIND PROGRAM BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO FORMER K-STATE ATHLETE'S EDUCATION
MANHATTAN -- Cephus Scott only spent a year at Kansas State University -- but it was a year he'll never forget.
It was 1997 and he was a defensive back on the K-State football team, the year the Wildcats won the Fiesta Bowl.
According to Scott, it was one of the best years of his life, and it's why he came back to K-State -- online.
"I felt like I owed the place that I respected the most, the teammates that I played with, the people I met. I felt like I was cheating everyone there if I didn't go back," Scott said.
Scott, Galveston, Texas, lived for football while in college; so much so, that education wasn't exactly his priority. When his football career ended, he found himself back in Galveston with a family and a decent job as a supervisor at a local mental health facility -- but no college degree. The latter was something that started to get on his nerves after a while.
"I was a nursing supervisor, but that didn't sit right with the nurses I was supervising. So, I asked for a meeting with the CEO and the board of the hospital I was working at," Scott said. "When I went to the meeting, I wanted to express my opinions, but they acted like I should just be happy to be there because I didn't have a degree."
In the face of such a stinging realization, Scott contacted people at K-State's Division of Continuing Education who could help him reach his goal of earning his degree. He learned about K-State's Second Wind program, developed specifically with former K-State athletes in mind, to help them finish their academic work no matter where they lived.
Along the way, Scott found encouragement in unexpected places.
"At one point, Coach Snyder called me to tell me how proud he was of the work I was doing and how hard I was trying. And even though he wasn't the football coach at the time, it was still like getting a call from the president," Scott said. "It was one of the most thoughtful things I've ever gotten from K-State."
For someone who previously had trouble making education a priority in his life, Scott took to distance learning and even surprised himself.
"For me, it was actually better than sitting in front of a professor because I could chat with my fellow students about ideas in the class," he said.
Scott finished his degree requirements in summer 2007, earning a bachelor's in social science with a concentration in behavioral sciences. He intended to go to commencement in December 2007, but as luck would have it, an ice storm that hit much of northeast Kansas prevented him from returning to campus.
"I had my cap and gown and everything, and I was going to walk, so it was a disappointment. But I got my degree, so I'm cool," Scott said.
Scott is now a teacher in the Positive Approach to Student Success program at a Galveston middle school. The program is designed to provide behavioral support for students who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties. It operates upon the belief that students with these issues benefit the most from educational experiences within the mainstream student population, rather than removing them to separate classrooms or schools.
In addition, Scott will soon be taking a proposal to the city of Galveston to fund an organization called Men of Values -- a group that helps boys and young men find the role models and resources they need to become productive, respected adults.
"There was always someone there -- family, friends, teachers, advisers -- to pick me up when I fell, to turn me right when I was going left, no matter where I was in life. I felt like I should do the same," Scott said. "I'm the first person in my family to graduate from college because of that support."
More information about K-State's Second Wind Program is available by contacting the K-State Division of Continuing Education at 1-800-432-8222, firstname.lastname@example.org or online at http://www.dce.k-state.edu/courses/secondwind