STLCC Dual Enrollment Program Enhances Homeschooler’s Learning Experience
Daniella Yussupbek has fond memories of her then two-year-old son at the Child Care Center at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park while she took classes there.
“I remember him wearing an Elmo costume at Halloween, and I remember he told me that his teachers took him and the other small children to real College, where they met so many college students in cafeteria. It is still in my memories, and it is hard for me to believe that my son has grown up to be a student at Forest Park himself.”
Yussupbek’s son, Jonas Chow, now is 16 years old. He is taking classes at STLCC-Forest Park while he also takes high school classes online in a homeschool environment. Through the STLCC Dual Enrollment program, Chow began taking courses last spring, and currently is enrolled in English Composition I.
“At first, I refused and thought I would not be able to do it, but once I started taking classes, I began to understand more (education wise) and realized the classes I take at STLCC aren’t as hard as I thought it would be,” Chow said. “I sometimes interact with students in class, but I’m quieter than I was in high school. I did make a good friend last semester and we do talk occasionally.”
Yussupbek, who came to the United States from Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 2002, says she became more independent while taking English classes and others as well at STLCC-Forest Park.
“It was an unforgettable time for me when I took classes at Forest Park and worked my first job in the United States,” she said. “I met so many new friends, and I worked at the library with June Williams, from whom I learned so much.”
Instructors at the Forest Park Child Care Center also encouraged Yussupbek, who was new to the United States, to continue her own education. They introduced her to the financial aid program and other services, taking care of Jonas while she worked on campus and attended classes.
“I am very blessed,” she said. “After I had a great experience working at the library, I learned the enrollment procedure and other student services procedures. I was able to help students who came to the library. I continue to help and encourage people from other countries who dream of going back to school, feel excited to learn English and earn a degree in the United States. Today, with all technology, it is so easy to enroll, and it is very convenient to get all services with the help of computers and especially with the help of very kind and special people who work at Forest Park.”
Continuing Her Education
Yussupbek had intended to finish the paralegal program; however, through research, discovered she could transfer with her STLCC English course credits and those from her bachelor’s degree from Adilet Law School in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to Washington University. She enrolled in the LLM program in U.S. Law, which serves as an introduction to the U.S. legal system and is most often requested of applicants to the bar who were educated in or practiced outside the United States. She finished it in one year and earned a master’s degree.
“I am so thankful to Ms. Williams, because I found the Washington University LLM program while I worked with her at the Forest Park library,” she said. “I learned so much about how to do research not only in a library catalog, but in life as well.”
Williams, who now is the manager of the library at STLCC-Florissant Valley, recalls that Yussupbek persevered through very some tough times.
“Daniella was excited about the opportunity to attend Forest Park to further her education in the United States. She was able to take classes because of the child care at Forest Park, which was available to students at that time,” she said. “Daniella did have a period of time which became extremely difficult because of a personal issue, which could have derailed her success. With the support of some staff and faculty and her determination, she was able to prevail and transfer to Washington University.”
Opening “Mom’s Homeschool”
While brick-and-mortar education was right for Yussupbek, she was not enamored with that concept for her sons. Again, using the research skills she honed while working at the Forest Park library, Yussupbek decided to homeschool her boys. She made the decision to open “Mom’s Homeschool” after meeting other successful homeschooling families, reading many books and articles online, as well as watching YouTube videos.
“We learned so much together. I couldn't believe how many talents I discovered in my kids,” Yussupbek said. “My other son, Jason Chow, who was five years old at the time, started to learn to read from TV videotapes. He was playing and singing, and dancing and learning! It took him only a week to learn the alphabet and reading from the videotape, and he was able to read real books. We went to different libraries, and he read books and we learned so much!”
The family went to different libraries and found endless learning possibilities. Yussupbek taught the boys Russian, and they all learned Arabic and French from YouTube. They also took “field trips” and learned Chinese language and Chinese culture at St. Louis Modern Chinese School on Clayton Road and Big Bend, and learned Turkish with a native language instructor.
“We were travelling a lot, and I remember how we went to Alamo Museum in Texas and many other places. The kids wrote an essay about our trips,” she said. “We were never isolated. We met so many different people, visited so many places, and we were free from a school system and school drama.”
Adding College Courses to the Curriculum
The boys went back to public school briefly because Yussupbek was working more hours. However, she decided to withdraw Jonas from high school his freshman year and continue homeschooling. A few months later, Jonas started taking online high school classes with an accredited curriculum in his homeschooling environment. While attending one of Jonas’s basketball games, Yussupbek learned that almost all homeschooled players attended STLCC. And again, using those research skills, Yussupbek found information online about STLCC’s Dual Enrollment program.
So Jonas, at age 15, was admitted, passed the admissions testing requirements, had an interview and started taking some STLCC classes. He is taking college classes in addition to homeschooling.
“I have been homeschooled together with online school for around three years now since my freshman year, and I really enjoy it,” he said. “I prefer to be in homeschool environment because I can do so many things other than the mandatory classes I take in public school. I can also be dual enrolled into STLCC and get college credits while in high school.”
Jonas Chow said he plans to enroll at STLCC after he completes high school requirements. Beyond that, he’d like to attend the University of Texas at Austin or MIT.
“These are the schools I would love to go to and are my dream schools, but if I do not get accepted, then there’s always other choices,” he said. “I would love to study more math and science courses because I love science. I’m not so good in math, but I want to get better. I would also love to take some computer science courses on networking. I’m still young though, and have two more years. There are so many things I’m passionate about.”
Their lives have changed dramatically since that Halloween when Jonas dressed as Elmo. And Yussupbek has no regrets about the educational path she chose for herself and her sons.
“Life flies so fast,” she said. “I wish everyone would take the opportunity of dual enrollment for their kids. It is a really wonderful program in this country of many opportunities.”
Learn more about the STLCC Dual Enrollment program.