Jamie Ratchford is a woman of passion, whether it be about preserving the environment, learning about the world, writing, or photography.
These qualities, manifested in her outstanding academic record as a journalism and professional writing major at Northampton Community College (NCC), her persistence and leadership and service to others have earned her the prestigious and highly competitive Jack Kent Cooke Community College Transfer Scholarship. Nearly 1,500 students from 311 community colleges applied for the grant, which provides $40,000 a year and comprehensive educational advising. Additionally, awardees receive opportunities for internships, study abroad and graduate school funding. She has been accepted to Rochester Institute of Technology and Bard and Hampshire colleges and is waiting to hear from Lehigh University which has a journalism science program.
Ratchford, a resident of East Stroudsburg, enrolled at NCC at the age of thirty-two, after working on a farm and earlier at an ice cream parlor. Her decision was prompted by her drive to add to her knowledge and combine her love of writing and photography towards creating a sustainable environment. She chose NCC, in particular, because she had heard wonderful things from alumni, especially about caring professors, and because of the College’s affordability and proximity to her home.
Journalism is a natural avenue for her passions. “I am fascinated by our world, and I always want to know more about everything,” she says. “Journalism lets you become involved, to ask questions, and to constantly learn new things,” she says. “The program has allowed me to meet so many interesting people. Studying journalism is a great way to learn about everything. You’ll learn about history, current events, geography, science, culture, art, and so many other things. Journalism will broaden your understanding of the world, and it will teach you to become a better writer so that you can convey what you learned and hopefully inspire others.”
Towards those ends, Ratchford plans to become a freelance writer and photographer for/with organizations that are working to protect the natural environment.
NCC has set Ratchford on a steady path toward her goals, and she advises other students to take full advantage of what the College offers. “One of the best ways to learn is to be present. Show up. Listen. Observe. Attend as many of the events as you can during the free period.”
Ratchford’s learning also comes about through her involvement with College and community organizations. She has served as a writer, photographer and Web editor for The Commuter, the student newspaper. Additionally, she participated in the Good Growers club, the International Students Organization and the Climate Action Network. In the larger community, she has been involved with the Sierra Club, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation, and other organizations. In 2014, she hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in eight months.
Studying at NCC has changed Ratchford’s life. “I have a greater confidence in my abilities, a wealth of friendships, and a constant outpouring of support which, without a doubt, has improved my life.”
Ratchford is also grateful for the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship. “It is an amazing opportunity, without which I couldn’t continue my education,” she says.