Tompkins Cortland Community College

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Jasmine Bustle

Working for more than zeroJasmine Bustle

Jasmine Bustle made her own way since she left her home at 16. She got an apartment within months, then worked. And worked. She worked in food service, paid the bills, and kept working. She had a daughter. She worked and paid more bills. Then she lost her job.

"I was a manager," she says. "And I knew if I got another job, I’d be starting from zero. I saw the poster for Pathways [link] and Tompkins Cortland at the daycare. Honestly, after that, the hardest part was accepting help. I had supported myself for so long."

She found help first in the form of Alexis Dengel, PACE and Pathways Coordinator at the College and one of the key figures in the lives of many of the College’s adult students. The connection led to the Pathways Scholarship, which supports adult students who have had little or no time in college prior to coming to Tompkins Cortland. Arthur Kuckes founded the scholarship and has since donated a total of $10.5 million to the College for Pathways, making it a signature scholarship among community colleges. Recipients can receive up to $7,000 for full-time study, and Kuckes’ generosity also supports two positions that provide guidance and assistance to Pathways scholars.

"Pathways and PACE have allowed me to not have to work full time while I’m here," says Jasmine, who graduated with a degree in Human Services in December 2013 and plans to continue her education at a four-year school in the Fall of 2014.

"It’s been amazing, really. Before I came to Tompkins Cortland, I could run a kitchen, but I couldn’t write a paper. My very first class was the learning community with English and Sociology, and it was fantastic. I’ve had to gain a lot of confidence, and I have. It’s something I’m doing for my daughter too. No more nights, weekends … I need to be there to be her mother."