STLCC is Twice as Nice for Kaymore
First-generation students are those whose parents don’t have a college degree. Oftentimes, these students are also the first ones in their families to ever set foot on campus as a student. Nationwide, one-third of all college students in the U.S. are first-generation students.
As classes get underway this fall, St. Louis Community College is spotlighting four first-generation students. And while every story is unique, students in this series continue to prove that they have what it takes to overcome obstacles and earn their college degree.
The first story is below; a new story will publish next week.
From coordinating colors and textiles to selecting accessories and spotting trends, Leroy Kaymore’s passion is fashion.
For Kaymore, his interest in this industry stems from his desire to help others look and feel their best.
“I enjoy talking with people. Once I learn about them, I’m able to suggest pieces that work with their lifestyle and fit their body type,” he said. “For me, fashion is all about confidence and creativity. When you look good, you feel good. So that’s why I’m working to become a stylist.”
But as the first person in his family to go to college, Kaymore’s path hasn’t been easy.
After graduating from Tift County High School in Tifton, Ga., Kaymore chose to move to St. Louis, Mo. Once he arrived, he turned to St. Louis Community College – not once, but twice – to make his career goal a reality.
“I came to St. Louis in 2016 because I was looking for different scenery,” he said. “I had a friend here, and I thought a change would be good. Since then, I’ve been busy building a life of my own.”
Although his family is miles away, they’ve encouraged him every step of the way.
“My parents are my biggest fans,” he said. “They continue to root for me and cheer me on as I strive to achieve my goals.”
Initially, Kaymore enrolled in the general transfer studies associate degree program at STLCC-Forest Park. When MetroBus expanded routes to Wildwood, he transferred to STLCC-Wildwood. After taking the bus for a while, he eventually moved from downtown St. Louis into a place closer to STLCC-Wildwood.
“I like the green space in Wildwood because it reminds me of my hometown,” he said. “And I think the Wildwood campus has a good vibe. It’s easy to navigate and the people are caring and friendly.”
As a student at STLCC-Wildwood, Kaymore had much success. In addition to earning several college credits, he took an active role on campus, serving as the president of Wildwood’s LGBTQ Club and participating in various events, including the student leadership team, Club Council.
But when COVID-19 happened, things changed.
“Like everyone else, the pandemic really altered my college experience,” he said. “When my classes moved online, it was a big adjustment and I struggled to manage it all.”
Ultimately, Kaymore decided to withdraw from his classes and focus his attention on work. He accepted a full-time position as a pharmacy tech at a local drugstore. Several months later, he was promoted to a shift lead. In this role, which he still holds today, he works on the retail floor, coordinating merchandise displays and helping customers.
“Taking a break from school was exactly what I needed,” he said. “The time away gave me a chance to reassess my college plans and refocus on my goals.”
A few months later, Kaymore enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in fashion merchandising management at Southern New Hampshire University. He spent three semesters there before deciding to return to STLCC to finish his associate degree.
Although it may seem strange to bounce between the two institutions, Kaymore explained his rationale.
“After I transferred, I learned that my credits from STLCC would only count fully toward my bachelor’s degree if I had my associate degree in-hand,” he said. “Rather than retake some of my general education coursework, I chose to return to STLCC so I could leverage my associate degree toward my four-year degree.”
With only a few classes to go, Kaymore is on track to earn his associate degree in May 2023. After that, he intends to return to Southern New Hampshire University to finish his bachelor’s degree.
“Returning to STLCC was the best decision for me,” he said. “I’m comfortable at Wildwood, and I know that this plan will help me save time and money by not having to retake some of my general education coursework. Plus, I’m so close to earning my associate degree, it just makes sense.”
Stephanie Church, coordinator of campus life and college transition, was excited to welcome Kaymore back to STLCC-Wildwood this fall.
“Leroy is a terrific student leader and we’re so glad he’s back with us to finish what he started,” she said. “He’s overcome a lot to get to this point, and I know he can persevere and reach his goals. He has the determination and motivation it takes to build a successful career.”
Kaymore offered some advice to students who might find themselves in a similar situation.
“Don’t give up when the going gets tough,” he said. “It may be hard, but I promise you it will be worth it.”
Aside from his college goals and professional career, Kaymore is preparing for another milestone. His marriage to his best friend and partner, Zachary. The wedding, which is planned for July 2023, will have a Greek-inspired vibe, with turquois and gold accents.
“Not only am I excited to marry the love of my life, but I’m having fun coordinating all of the details,” he said. “It’s a great way for me to showcase my passion for fashion and channel my creativity into our special day.”