Non-Traditional Students Find Southern The Right Fit


Brittany Fekete (on the left) attended Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College as a non-traditional student, and it has made all the difference in her life.


Being what is considered a non-traditional student can sometimes feel intimidating. However, Brittany Fekete knew she had what it took to earn a degree and was determined to not let fear stop her.


The 28-year-old mom lives in Man with her coal mining husband Justin. The coal economy in Southern West Virginia has been extremely uncertain and Brittany knew her family needed a backup plan.


The mother-of-two always wanted to earn a college degree, but life seemed to keep throwing her curveballs. Her educational goals kept getting placed on the backburner while she navigated life, her daughters, marriage, and just everything else in general.


“I knew I was capable of it. It was just the wrong timing. I had other things going on,” Brittany explained. During her senior year of high school, while she and her classmates were officially taking those next steps, applying to colleges and trying to figure out where their lives would take them, Brittany became a teen mom.

Fekete then put her education on the fast track and earned her General Educational Development degree before her high school graduation date.


A few years later, after Fekete no longer had newborns to take care of, she began working minimum wage jobs. That’s when she realized she couldn’t make excuses any longer and needed to earn her degree.


“It took a lot of prayer and preparation because it’s such a huge step, but I knew I had to do something. The only way I could truly help my family was to obtain a degree,” she added.


While working full-time at a local bakery, Fekete began taking classes at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. Fekete says she felt extremely comfortable at Southern from beginning to end.


“Southern meets students at their level. I wasn’t an 18-year-old just graduating from high school and staff at the college understood that” she said. “They are also parents, have spouses and a work-life. They never made me feel judged or like I was an outcast.”


Southern not only helped Fekete with her educational goals and career path but assisted her with other aspects of life.


“The classes I took at Southern taught me effective ways to speak one-on-one with people and publicly. I learned how to juggle being a wife, mother, daughter, and minister, and how to adequately budget and organize my bills,” Fekete said. “These classes aren’t just for the grades. I am not the same person I was when I registered at Southern. The college helped me grow as a person within the two years I attended.”


Fekete adds that Southern is very inclusive and has a great mixture of traditional and non-traditional students. “We were all accommodated in courses, and it worked for everyone, no matter the diversity.”


Fekete graduated from Southern in 2021 with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration.


“Southern has a way of making it personal. Southern gave me a second chance at the things I set out to do ten years ago,” said Fekete. “I’m living proof… Anything can happen if you want it to. But you have to act upon it. It’s so much harder when you’re older. But it’s so much more rewarding.”


Fekete is now the Student Services Receptionist in the Admissions Department at Southern.


12-week classes at Southern begin Monday, September 13th. Visit https://apply.southernwv.edu/ to apply. For questions, log on to Southern’s Student Services virtual portal SSConnect.


Photo | Southern

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