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February 12, 2021

Alumna encourages others to start their educational journey.

Taylor Richards learned first-hand the value of an education.

When she first began taking classes at JCCC, she had no idea how much the JCCC family would change her life. The tutoring, mentorship and endless support beyond the classroom were instrumental in her success.

Now, with a bachelor’s degree under her belt, she’s decided to provide a scholarship for students like her so they can experience the achievements she has.

Finding the Perfect Fit

Taylor hadn’t heard of JCCC when she first arrived in Kansas City back in 2011. She’d already earned her GED® in Illinois and her first goal was to find the right college that fit her needs.

She asked a friend from KC, “Where should I go to school?” He told her about Johnson County Community College. And that’s when Taylor’s educational journey began.

Getting Started

Taylor was nervous about starting college and was worried it wasn’t going to work out.

“When I came to JCCC, I basically had to start from scratch,” she said. “I dropped out of school at a young age. I honestly didn't think I could finish my education without dropping out again. The truth is, I probably would have dropped out if it wasn't for all the help and support I got at JCCC.”

Taylor was hoping to use her time at JCCC as preparation for a four-year school. The staff she met on campus helped her more than she could have ever imagined.

Helping Hands Reached Out

She remembers meeting her advisor, Karen Miller, who connected her with excellent instructors for each of her classes. One was Sally Bennett, in English.

“Professor Bennett could see I was struggling with my writing,” Taylor said. “She would work with me after Composition I and II classes and help me get my thoughts on paper. Her focus was on helping you learn and not just giving you a grade.”

In math classes, a tutor, Harold, was instrumental.

“I could have never passed any of my math classes without Harold,” Taylor said. “He would sit with me for hours just to help me understand all my math problems.”

The support from her tutors and teachers, along with her own hard work, paid off. In fall 2012, Taylor transferred to the University of Kansas to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

An Endless Resource

It wasn’t long, however, before Taylor decided to reach out for help again. Although she was now a KU student, she drew on her JCCC connections when she found herself struggling with a statistics course.

“Harold helped me again, even though I wasn't a student at JCCC anymore,” she said. “He was always there to help me. I got an A in that class because Harold cared, and he wanted me to succeed. That's why I always came back to JCCC for help.”

Starting Something Big

Knowing how much JCCC had helped her over the years, Taylor decided she wanted to return the favor. She started the Ken and Beth Richards “Education Matters” Scholarship, offered through Johnson County Adult Education (JCAE).

Taylor credits her in-laws, the namesakes of this scholarship, for the idea.

“Ken and Beth inspired me to start a scholarship,” she said. “They taught me the importance of education. Ken always says, ‘A college degree is something no one can ever take away from you.’”

This scholarship is uncommon.

During her time in school, Taylor noticed many scholarships were available. However, she always felt that something was missing.

“I'd hardly ever see scholarships specifically for GED® students,” she said. “I think it's important to help everyone get an education, especially individuals who get their GED®.”

The Ken and Beth Richards “Education Matters” Scholarship will be awarded to a GED® graduate continuing their education at JCCC. One of the application requirements is a 250-word essay explaining what education means to the applicant.

Taylor knows firsthand that going to college is not easy. She wants to encourage students to push forward and never give up.

“You're going to the best community college in the country,” she said. “JCCC wants to help you succeed! Always use JCCC’s resources, and never be afraid to ask for help.

“JCCC can change your life for the better, just like it changed my life!”

Start Changing Lives

If you share Taylor’s passion for helping GED® students, you can donate directly to JCAE. Or, you may want to donate to the JCCC Foundation. You can search for giving opportunities on the Foundation site and reference the specific scholarship when making your donation.