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Scholarship essay winner shares impact of community college experience and particularly her professors

Certainly receiving a scholarship and earning a college degree can change a person’s future, but one student discovered much more at Lone Star College-CyFair, such as the impact LSC-CyFair’s faculty had on her life.

Dena Horne was among five Lone Star College System students who read their winning essays on “How My Community College Experience Changed My Life” as part of the recent 18th annual Lone Star College Foundation’s Chancellor’s Breakfast.

Horne’s story begins with an admission that her first college experience was so negative that she did not even entertain the idea of going back until she reached a point of necessity after moving to Houston in 2009.

“I was laid off from my job,” she said. “I searched exhaustively but I quickly realized that my work experience did not equal a degree … so I bit the bullet and enrolled for a full course load.  This decision became a turning point in my life.”

That first semester at LSC-CyFair, Horne said she discovered some amazing things because of her professors, such as a passion for the study of communications and enjoyment of history.

Paige Davis, professor of speech communications, showed Horne the human side of communications and taught her lessons applicable in her other classes.

 “In addition to her teaching, her genuine concern for my personal life gave me the courage I needed to face the daunting task of returning to school,” Horne said. “She was the catalyst for my choosing to pursue a career in human communications education.”

Attending the chancellor’s breakfast along with Andrew Dunsky, adjunct professor of history, and Horne’s husband Josh, Davis said she was truly touched when Horne read her essay.

“Attending LSC-CyFair allowed this remarkable student to discover her unearthed interests and talents,” said Davis. “She now has direction and a clear purpose for her future as a Sam Houston University student and her intended career path as a community college speech communication professor. She’s a girl after my own heart! It has been my honor to serve as her teacher, mentor and friend.”

Horne said Dunsky changed misconceptions for her that history classes were boring and revolved only around dates.

“His energetic and unique teaching style has driven me to pursue a minor in history,” said Horne. “More importantly, he has given me an appreciation for the importance of history and the relationship it shares with my chosen field.”

Dunsky said he looks forward to Horne achieving her goals of obtaining a bachelor’s and master’s in speech communication.

“For the past three semesters Dena has been an integral part of my history classes at LSC-CyFair, actively participating in class discussions and contributing her own perspectives and personal experiences,” said Dunsky. “Needless to say, it has been an absolute pleasure having her as a student and she will certainly be missed.”

Another truly life changing discovery for Horne was learning she’s capable of doing well in school from completing full course loads with straight A’s to being accepted into the Honors Program and incorporating a service learning opportunity into her Honors contract.

“These are all things that I never would have thought possible before attending Lone Star College-CyFair,” said Horne. “It is my hope that when I reach my ultimate goal of teaching at a community college that I will have the same impact on my students that my teachers at Lone Star College have had on me.”

Receiving a $1,000 scholarship from the LSC Foundation and representing each of the five LSCS colleges were Horne from LSC-CyFair, Jason Clayden from LSC-Kingwood, Angel Guajardo from LSC-Montgomery, Willicia Toran from LSC-North Harris and Jonas Rodriguez from LSC-Tomball.

For information on LSC-CyFair, go to LoneStar.edu.