Mill, a member of Bakersfield High School's Class of 2005, will graduate in May 2013 with her Associate of Arts in General Studies and Associate of Applied Science in Child and Family Development (CFD) degrees from Missouri State-West Plains and her Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development from Missouri State University.
According to Dr. Renee Moore, CFD associate professor, students in the Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development degree program are advised to spread out their general education classes and CFD classes during their two years at Missouri State-West Plains to maintain full-time status, since there is not always a full load of CFD classes available from Springfield each semester. In some instances, this process allows students to complete all three degrees at once.
"But the real reason I decided to get all three degrees at once is so I'd only have to walk once," Lacy said with a grin.
The CFD program wasn't Lacy's first choice for a college major. When she began taking classes at Missouri State-West Plains in fall 2005 with funds from Missouri's A+ Program, she was planning to study international business. She had been a member of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) in high school and was intrigued with the thought of international travel and business mergers.
But after two years of study, Lacy realized her chosen career choice wasn't really what she wanted to do. Although unsure of her major, Lacy continued taking classes until health issues forced her to take a year off from college.
About two years ago, however, Lacy discovered a new direction for her studies when she found a job at Tadpoles Day Care Center in West Plains. "I seemed to be able to not only care for the children, but teach them sign language, how to count, how to recognize colors, and that seemed like a good fit for me. I really enjoyed it," she said.
Lacy decided to take one of the University's child and family development courses to see if she really wanted to make it a career. "I was still unsure, but (Associate Professor of Child and Family Development) Dr. Renee Moore said if I completed the program and continued with my education, not only could I work in a child care setting, but I could even teach at the college level," Lacy said.
With the help and support of Moore and other faculty and staff, Lacy will complete the first part of her journey next spring then enroll in Missouri State University's online master's CFD program, which she hopes to complete in three semesters through the fast track option.
"I think somewhere along the line I figured out I could take what I was good at and what I wanted to do and combine them for my major," Lacy said. "I was able to mature in a lot of different ways at Missouri State-West Plains without it hindering my academic success. But that's a part of college, I think. You go in with an idea, and at that time, at 18 or 19 years of age, you're not necessarily equipped to know who you want to be. College gives you the opportunity to figure that out."
Lacy said she is extremely thankful for the help and support she received from Dr. Moore, Assistant Professor of Agriculture/Entrepreneurship Cathy Proffitt-Boys (her supervisor in the Corps of Opportunity work-to-learn scholarship program), and other faculty staff at Missouri State-West Plains. "Any questions I've had, they've been very helpful. Any task I wasn't sure of, they've given me guidance," she explained.
"If I would have gone to a different University in a different town, I probably would not have completed my degrees," she added. "I don't think other colleges are as supportive as this college is. The faculty and staff seem to go above and beyond what is required to help students."