Affordable tuition, transferable degree laid the foundation for her future

Hollie Bandy

Bang for your buck. That’s what drew Hollie Bandy to Stark State College, she says.

“You really do get a lot of value for your education dollar here,” she said. “I have a friend taking the same classes at a university and paying three times as much, and you get the same quality here.”

There are plenty of other benefits, too, she said. Take the small class sizes, for instance. “It’s awesome. You get more individual attention and you don’t feel like a stranger approaching your professor. The instructors are flexible and helpful with any issues you have.”

Hollie started at Stark State after working in guest services in a Myrtle Beach oceanfront hotel for a couple years after her graduation from Marlington High. “I missed family,” she said of her return to Ohio. Plus, she was inspired by her dad, Bill Bench, who graduated from Stark State with an associate degree in medical assisting after he had retired as a steel inspector in Alliance.

“I wanted to make sure I was ready to study and take the responsibility of education seriously,” Hollie said. Obviously, she was ready: Despite working 25-30 hours a week as a server, she recently graduated with a 3.8 GPA, earning an associate degree in psychology.

College, she said, is a better fit for her than high school. “Everything I’ve learned has been incorporated for use in multiple ways,” she said. “It’s like all the puzzle pieces come together.” She’s also integrated the roles of wife, student and employee in perfecting the skill of balance. “I guess it’s knowing my priorities,” she said, “and not stressing over the small stuff.”

She plans to continue her job at Gervasi Vineyards, where “they’ve taken good care of me,” she said, as she continues on for a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Kent State University at Stark. “I’ve always been fascinated by why people think and act the way they do and what makes us each different,” Hollie said. “And there are so many mental illnesses, some you are born with, others that are triggered by environmental factors.” Because she’d like to “dismantle, treat and heal” them, she plans to eventually end up with a doctoral degree, working in a clinical setting.

That long educational journey doesn’t appear daunting, though. “I’m taking one step at a time,” she said. “The time is going to go by no matter what, so I want to put it to good use.”