Weavers Will Have a Busy Commencement Weekend
Graduation is a major milestone for students and parents alike. For mother and daughter Jacquelyn and Rebecca Weaver, this year’s commencement is especially sweet. They will both be honored as graduates in the Class of 2021.
Jacquelyn, 48, is among the inaugural cohort of students from STLCC-Wildwood to earn an Associate in Applied Science degree in Behavioral Health Support. Rebecca, 23, is graduating from STLCC-Meramec with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement. Although their college paths have differed, the shared experience has helped bring them closer as a mother and daughter.
Path to STLCC
A lifelong learner, Jacquelyn came to STLCC with a few college credits under her belt. Although she had taken some classes over the years, she never felt she had the time to focus on her degree because she was busy being a military wife and stay-at-home mom. Shortly after her family relocated to St. Louis, she decided the time was right for her to focus on her college and career goals.
Rebecca’s path to STLCC was different. Despite having spent a semester in college at another institution, she wasn’t sure college was right for her. Once her family got settled in St. Louis and her mom met with an advisor to plan her schedule, the pressure was on for Rebecca to do the same.
“My parents gave me two choices – either get a job or go to school,” she said. “While I was hesitant at first, school got a lot better once I found a career field that interested me. Since then, I’ve steadily built up my GPA and excelled in my degree program.”
Even though they chose two completely different fields, the Weavers still found ways to support and motivate each other throughout their experience at STLCC.
“While we never took the same class at the same time, we often leaned on one another for help with our classes,” Jacquelyn said. “From proofing each other’s essays to quizzing one another and commiserating over our shared frustrations with math, it was really special to do this together.”
Another person who played a key role in their success was Brad Weaver, Jacquelyn’s husband and Rebecca’s father.
“Brad has been our rock and our biggest cheerleader throughout all of this,” Jacquelyn said. “He not only helped us stay on track, but he also troubleshooted some of our technology issues when our classes moved online. Coupled with this, because of his military service and the fact that he is a disabled combat veteran, Rebecca and I are both eligible for financial assistance if we choose to transfer to a four-year university.”
And that’s exactly what they plan to do.
After graduation, Rebecca is going to continue her studies at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice. Her long-term goal is to become a forensic examiner for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Ruth Eilerman, assistant professor in the criminal justice department at Meramec, said Rebecca is well on her way to achieving her career goals.
“Rebecca has so much enthusiasm for the subject matter,” she said. “Not only was she an active and enthusiastic student, but she was a good advocate for herself and her education. I look forward to seeing what she will accomplish in the future.”
While Jacquelyn hasn’t finalized her transfer plans yet, she would like to earn a master’s degree in social work or counseling. In the meantime, she’s going to continue working as a community support specialist, which is a position she’s held through her practicum. Ultimately, she would like to create a nonprofit that provides transitional housing to teens who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction.
Jenna Mueller, LPC, assistant professor and program coordinator for behavioral health support, described Jacquelyn as a courageous woman who has the skills to take this career path as far as it will go.
“Jacquelyn is a voracious learner. She has grown throughout this program personally and professionally, and has blossomed into a superstar,” Mueller said. “She came in with a passion to help, had her own opinions about what that would look like, and through her strength and resilience, she has found her niche – teenage boys with addictions. She is vocal about her needs, is able to set healthy boundaries and is exemplary of the skills taught in this program. I know she’s going to be an asset to any organization she joins because she has the ability to apply the book smarts to the real-life experiences of her clients. Jacquelyn walks the walk and talks the talk, and I’m so proud to know her and see what she achieves next.”
In response to COVID-19, STLCC plans to host drive-through commencement ceremonies at each campus, May 14-15. While this format is different from in previous years, it hasn’t changed the way Jacquelyn and Rebecca feel about commencement.
“As a mom, I’m beyond excited that my daughter is graduating with me. She has worked incredibly hard to finish her degree, and I’m so proud of her,” Jacquelyn said.
“Without a doubt, COVID-19 impacted our college experience, especially last spring when our classes moved online,” Rebecca said. “Although things were challenging at times, we kept going and kept learning. Thanks to support we received from our professors and each other, we get to celebrate this milestone together.”