LHS graduate learns locally while living in Germany. 

March 22, 2022

LHS graduate learns locally while living in Germany. 

Staying local for college doesn’t mean that you can’t be a world traveler, which is what Alaina Ashley and her parents discovered.  The daughter of Leona and Scott Ashely of Pere Marquette Township, Alaina became an exchange student in Germany in 2019.  As a part of the program, she graduated from Ludington High School, and since then, completed a second senior year at a German high school.  Alaina didn’t want her year abroad to impact her progress toward a college degree in the U.S., so she decided to pursue an associate of arts degree at WSCC using the Mason County Promise Scholarship, while also going to high school full-time in Germany.

“I was initially worried about how it would be to take online college classes, but I was excited to learn new subjects and topics that weren’t available in high school.”  

Alaina’s long-term goals include completing a degree at WSCC and obtaining a teaching degree from a German university.  She said she’s “pleasantly surprised” that the distance hasn’t affected how close she feels to peers and professors in her WSCC classes. 

“The easy accessibility and the quick and friendly answers from WSCC advisors, like Jill Sweet, have been enjoyable,” Alaina said. She’s also been able to participate in online scavenger hunts, despite being in a different country and time zone.  

Leona Ashley, Alaina’s mother, had concerns about potential financial responsibility and college debt Alaina might incur from college. The Ashley family planned for college when their children were young.

“I put a little money away, but not enough. [The Promise] allows for so much,” Leona said. 

The minimal costs of sending her children to WSCC using the Promise have been a surprise, Leona explained, especially “that everything is free. We had to pay for books, but since three out of our four children are going there, they shared.”

 As an alumnus of Ferris State University and Grand Valley State University, Leona said she recognized that young adults want to get away; but as a parent, she values the option her children have had to stay close to home.

“The two years at West Shore allow your children to grow up more and become more responsible.  If, like Alaina, they want to live elsewhere, that is doable as well.”   

Alaina, who is now a student and a nanny for a German family, shared that online courses have allowed her to spend even more time abroad. Both Alaina and Leona feel that they’ve had a valuable experience using the Promise Scholarship at WSCC.

“This program is fantastic, and I am so relieved that our children have had the opportunity to use it,” Leona said.  

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