The importance of education

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Rebecca Reed of Scott City, a recent graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, transcribed dictation at the Lowes & Drusch law firm. (Fred Lynch)

Rebecca Reed may be the youngest graduate to receive a diploma this Saturday at Southeast Missouri State University's graduation ceremony.

Just several months shy of her 21st birthday, Reed, of Scott City, follows in her mother's footsetps by earning a bachelor of science degree at the age of 20.

While some students find it difficult to earn a bachelor's degree in four years, Reed completed her college education in three and a half years, while working 25 hours per week at a local law firm.

Reed discussed how she was able to complete her college education so quickly after graduating a year early from high school and her plans for the future.

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I'm a 20-year-old ambitious and family-oriented young lady who likes to read, ride horses, go to the lake and discuss politics. I'm fairly expressive about my conservative viewpoints, and my dad and I debate the issues almost daily. I'm originally from the small town of Owensville, Mo. We moved to Scott City when I was in the eighth grade, as my mom wanted to move closer to our extended family. I went to high school in Scott City and have many fond memories of my high school days.

Q: How were you able to graduate from both college and high school so quickly?

A: I have known since I was little that I wanted to pursue higher education, as my parents always taught me getting an education should be a top priority.

In high school I realized with a little extra work I could meet the requirements and finish up in three years, rather than the standard four.

Since I don't particularly enjoy going to school, I decided to fast track my education, go ahead and do the extra work and graduate early.

In college, I kept the same philosophy and maintained a full load, in addition to taking summer classes each year, which resulted in being able to shave a semester off the standard four years.

Q: What was your major and what do you plan to do with it?

A: I majored in political science. I plan to attend law school. I was accepted to Southern Illinois University's School of Law, and am awaiting to hear from other schools before I decide where I want to end up.

Eventually, I would like to end up practicing family law and criminal defense in a small community like Cape Girardeau.

Q: Your mother also graduated at the age of 20. What does she do?

A: My mother, Joyce Reed, attended high school in Advance, Mo., and also left high school after three years. She, however, did not get to participate in graduation ceremonies and never even received her high school diploma.

She attended Southeast Missouri State, where she completed her bachelor of science degree in medical technology (class of 1977) in three years, at age 20. She went on to medical school at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, and is currently practicing as a partner at Ferguson Medical Group in Sikeston.

Q: What advice would you give to high school students?

A: I would advise high school students to understand how important an education is.

Even if you don't like dragging yourself out of bed in the morning to go to school, you have to understand to get to where you want to go, you have to pay your dues. Tend to your school work to the best of your ability, set personal goals for yourself and don't abandon them when things gets difficult. Nothing is more important in determining your future than your education.

Q: Why did you choose to attend Southeast?

A: I was only 17 and didn't want to move too far from home. I wanted to stay close to Scott City, so I could remain close to my classmates, who were completing their senior year and so I could watch my little sister play sports.

I was offered a scholarship at Southeast, which was too good to pass up, the Regent's Scholarship, which provides full tuition. I was able to keep that scholarship throughout my entire academic career at Southeast.

Q: Tell us about your part-time job at the law firm.

A: I'm a legal assistant/secretary to Albert Lowes of Lowes & Drusch in Cape Girardeau. I was interested in law and he gave me a job, which enabled me to get a real sense of what practicing law is all about. I worked throughout my college career roughly 25 hours a week.

I think working at the law firm has taught me just as much about practicing law as I could learn in the classroom. It is because of my experience at the firm that I am certain practicing law is exactly what I want to do.

Q: What was your most memorable experience in college?

A: It would have to be when my best friend, Jesse Venable, and I got to sit front and center along with a lot of local attorneys and judges where we listened to the blunt wisdom of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. I'll never forget that evening.

jfreeze@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246

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