Student Success Stories:
Student Success Story – Keith Reese
Keith Reese is a strong proponent of education. That's why, even after completing an associate's degree over 10 years ago, this 67-year-old business owner and farmer continues to take classes at Missouri State University-West Plains.
"Our family always has believed in education, and I'm a firm believer in gaining as much knowledge as you can," he said. "The more knowledge you have, the better off you are. It opens doors, and it builds confidence."
A life-long resident of the Mountain Grove/Vanzant area in southeastern Wright and northeastern Douglas counties, Keith took his first class over 30 years ago to learn more about hogs and their diseases. At the time, he was a hog farmer who averaged around 300 head on his property.
He returned to the classroom several years later to complete a degree. "I came basically to learn, and I also had a son and daughter who wanted to come, and I wanted to inspire them to learn," he explained.
Inspiring the next generation has become a bit of a family trait for the Reeses. Although his parents did not finish high school, both wanted their children to complete degrees, and Keith's aunt made him promise to get an education.
"My aunt and I were very close, and she had great confidence in me," Keith explained. "She spent her life without a degree. Many times, as a secretary with Delaware Power and Light Company, she had the opportunity to advance, but she couldn't because she didn't have a degree."
Keith kept his promise when he completed Missouri State-West Plains' Associate of Applied Science in Business degree with an emphasis in computer applications. Three siblings and two of his four children also have degrees, the majority of which were completed through Missouri State University's campuses in West Plains and Springfield.
"My degree has really helped me in my business," he said, pointing out he's the owner of Reese Pump Service, which he has operated for 28 years. "My children also put their education to work," he added. His son, Michael, manages MFA in Ava, and his daughter, Sarah Long, is director of nursing at Autumn Oaks Nursing Home in Mountain Grove.
Keith doesn't plan to stop with his associate's, though. He's enrolled this semester in Introduction to the New Testament at Missouri State-West Plains' Mountain Grove campus.
"It's the first semester I've taken classes in 10 years," he said. "I wanted to test out the old memory. I don't aim for my mind to die. I'm going to go down fighting. I like learning, and I'm going to go on and get my bachelor's degree, even if I'm 80 years old!"
"You have to develop the attitude that you want to win in life and that you want the education that will help you attain that level of lifestyle," he added. "Education gives you the ability to compete, to attain what you want in life."