Not only did she have first-hand knowledge of the University's rigorous educational program through the dual credit courses she had taken while in high school, she knew she would be able to complete her studies in her hometown, thanks to the Shannon Hall campus.
"I already had my plans made," she said. "I knew what I was doing, so it wasn't a big deal." Rebecca admitted she explored two or three college options as a high-school senior, but she decided on Missouri State-West Plains primarily because of the Mountain Grove campus. "It's only a 20-minute drive from my house," she explained.
Missouri State-West Plains began offering a few classes in Mountain Grove in 1995 at Faurot Hall, the home of Missouri State University's Research Campus. Since then, Missouri State-West Plains' educational program in Mountain Grove has grown to offer a full slate of courses each semester, allowing students to complete the entire Associate of Arts in General Studies degree in Mountain Grove.
In 2004, the program moved into its own separate campus at Shannon Hall, 401 E. 17th St., giving students not only access to more classroom space, but also a computer lab and library/media room. "We have all the necessities at Mountain Grove - a computer lab, study rooms, a library, a break room, a pool table, a really nice science lab," Rebecca said. "Student who go here don't miss out on anything."
This includes student activities, she added. This academic year, Rebecca has served as president of the Mountain Grove Student Government Association (SGA) and guided many of the get-togethers held on campus. "We had a holiday dinner and a back-to-school barbecue that the West Plains SGA members attended," she said.
The Missouri State University alumni group in Mountain Grove also hosted an "Iron Chef" event at Shannon Hall which gave cooks at Mountain Grove-area restaurants a chance to show off their talents and students the opportunity to learn more about the community. Prizes were even awarded to the "chefs" voted "tops" by the students, she added.
"I really like it," Rebecca said of the Mountain Grove campus. "It's been nothing but great. All of the students know each other. The staff has been great. They help everyone. No problem goes unsolved."
Rebecca will graduate from Missouri State-West Plains on May 17 with an Associate of Arts in General Studies degree. She earned nearly all of her credits for this degree at the Mountain Grove campus, she said. She plans to transfer to Missouri State University in Springfield, where she will major in psychology and minor in business and Spanish.
Before transferring, however, she will spend nine weeks in Spain this summer as part of a study abroad program through the Springfield campus. She will take language classes to broaden her Spanish skills, she said. "My teacher, Wayne Hancock, told me about the program and encouraged me to do it. It will be worth 12 credit-hours in Spanish when I transfer to Springfield," she explained.
Rebecca says she is ready for the transition to the larger campus, explaining, "I have a really good foundation, and my experience (at Mountain Grove and West Plains) has really helped me prepare for Springfield."
"Attending Missouri State-West Plains is one of the best decisions you can make," she added. "The people here want you to succeed. You can talk to the dean, you can talk to your teachers, everyone here wants you to succeed."
Missouri State-West Plains is a teaching and learning institution providing quality post-secondary educational opportunities to the communities it serves. Missouri State-West Plains offers associate degrees and serves as a delivery site for bachelor's and master's degrees offered by Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo. In 2013, Missouri State-West Plains was ranked sixth in the Best Community Colleges category of Washington Monthly's College Rankings.