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EGCC makes big difference

To the editor:

After working at a steel mill for 30 years, my plant shut down and I was faced with the tough question of what to do next. It’s a situation that so many workers across Ohio have been forced to deal with in recent years.

I had always wanted to go to college, but because of the financial burden that it would have placed on my family, it had never been in the cards. Fortunately, while working at the mill, I was in a union and after I was laid off, I had the opportunity to work with the Ohio AFL-CIO in the labor movement. I learned about a partnership among unions and Eastern Gateway Community College called the Union Free College Benefit.

Through this program, I was finally able to enroll in college and pursue a quality education. I know I’m not a typical college student — I’m 52 years old, have worked for decades in a steel mill, and I own a gun shop. But EGCC embraced me and my background — and I am proud to say that I just graduated. It provided me with a high-quality education and has opened doors that had not been available to me. I earned a business degree with a minor in labor studies, and am now planning to transfer to a four-year university.

Without EGCC, my union and the free college program, this would not have been possible. For working families and union members striving for good-paying jobs and the middle class, EGCC’s innovative approach to providing a quality education has been life-changing for so many people — and will continue to be for years and years to come.

Mike French

Oak Hill, Ohio

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