Klare Heston is a counselor at Lorain County Community College who regularly helps students figure out their classes, career paths, schedules and goals. She’s also a regular bell ringer.
Heston and her colleagues in the Enrollment, Financial and Career Services in the Bass Library started a special tradition of ringing large bells hanging from the walls of the Bass Library building to celebrate with students when they achieve academic milestones, like graduation or job offers. And since the counselors are with students every step of the way, it’s a natural fit for them to celebrate alongside students.
Stephanie Sutton, Associate Provost of Enrollment Management and Student Success, came up with the idea about a year ago to recognize students who are ready to graduate in an effort to embrace the goal of student success. The ritual stemmed from the idea that “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings” in the film “It’s A Wonderful Life,” she said. When a student has an achievement to share, counselors proudly call out the accomplishment for everyone to hear right before the student rings one of four bells in Career Services.
One of the most recent hard-working students to ring the bell with Heston is soon-to-be graduate Quint Thomas.
Thomas is a father of three, works full-time and will graduate at the end of spring semester with an associate degree in applied electronics. He says a big part of his success in his college journey was due to the support of his counselor, Heston.
Heston and Thomas both started at LCCC in 2008, Heston with her job, and Thomas with his studies. “When I came here, I didn’t know what direction to take,” he said. Today, Thomas thanks Heston for her support with advising and scheduling, which was especially helpful for him while balancing his busy life as a working student and father.
That level of personal attention is a priority at LCCC, Sutton said. Every student at LCCC is assigned to an advisor or counselor who helps them each step of the way – and that includes celebrating successes, she added.
Thomas’ family is also a big part of his journey. “I started college to inspire my kids to do better in life and to be a better role model,” the 40-year-old Oberlin resident said.
His oldest son, Kudor, said his father motivated him to do more. “I thought school wasn’t for me until I saw him doing it,” he said. As a recent Oberlin High School graduate, he plans to continue his educational journey, possibly in the LCCC culinary program.
His seventh-grade son, Tavion, said his dad is an inspiration, and he hopes to one day become an athlete, or a dean or superintendent. Thomas’ youngest, daughter Na’tavia, is also proud of him, she said.
Before coming to LCCC, Thomas had been working in the printing industry, but knew that with the rise of the internet, the longevity and strength of a career in the industry was questionable.
Throughout his life he had always liked electronics, he said, even as a high school student who took classes at Lorain County JVS. Seeking a degree in applied electronics seemed like a natural fit for Thomas.
After Thomas graduates in May, he plans to possibly complete his bachelor’s degree through LCCC’s University Partnership with Cleveland State University.
WATCH: Quint Thomas ring the bell to celebrate his academic success.