River Valley Community College
Associate of Arts, Liberal Arts, 2017
Associate of Science, Early Childhood Education, 2019
After her two kids were born, Colleen Ross thought her dream of going to college was out of reach until she connected with the faculty at River Valley Community College (RVCC). Instead of being beyond her reach, the college became a place for her to re-discover her love for math and science, which she used to create a program integrating STEM learning principles within early childhood education.
“Growing up, I loved school. Math and science were my favorite subjects, but at a certain point, I didn’t want to go to school anymore. I turned down soccer scholarships, barely graduated, and began living on my own at 17 years old.”
Colleen knew she wanted to go to college one day, but she didn’t know where to begin or if she would have the time or money to do it.
“My daughter’s graduation from high school gave me the push I needed to go to college. RVCC had a campus in my old elementary school building in Keene. I felt like the universe was bringing me full circle.”
The admissions and financial aid offices taught her about FAFSA, Pell Grants and scholarships that could help cover her college expenses.
“I took Statistics and Introduction to Chemistry my first semester, which rekindled my love for math and science.”
Because of the low student to faculty ratio and hands-on communication, Colleen felt that each professor was invested in her success.
“RVCC was life-changing for me. The faculty and staff helped propel me to each new level by providing scaffolding to get higher.”
Colleen loved the caliber of her RVCC education and appreciated the real-world experiences.
“An assignment to create a service grant proposal was a turning point for me. The faculty found spaces and resources to make the proposal a reality.”
Colleen subsequently developed a program called Be GIFTS (Boys and Girls Initiating Future Thinking in Science). What began as a school project became her life’s mission — advocating for and bringing resources to implement STEM programming for children and youth.
“I also completed practicum work at a pre-school while working at an elementary school in 2018-2019. I planned, developed and implemented several STEM curricula aligned with NH Early Learning Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.”
Colleen currently works as an assistant teacher for science and social studies at Surry Village Charter School in Keene.
For those hesitant to start college, she offers this bit of advice: “If you want to go to college, but feel like there are too many hurdles – those hurdles can be overcome. There are ways to get yourself educated to further yourself in your career and community.”