Alexandra Moen never expected to go to college at the same place she attended preschool. She wanted to move far away, and never dreamed that the campus right outside her front door held her future.
“I had big plans to go away to college,” she says. “I felt like I had experienced all that Lorain County had to offer, and I was content with the thought of leaving the county behind. I was completely wrong.”
Moen, a graduate of Elyria High School, explored a variety of post-high school academic options and was stunned to discover the cost of a four-year college. She found that her best — and least expensive — option, Lorain County Community College, was within arm’s reach.
“I was shocked to learn that for a four-year university, I would need to go into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. I was terrified at the price tag,” she says. “The low tuition rate, and the ability to earn a bachelor’s degree through LCCC’s University Partnership at about 20 percent of the cost of a four-year college, was enough to persuade me to venture across the street to LCCC. The college offered me a scholarship, so I only had to pay for books and fees.”
Her father, Jeremy Moen, says attending LCCC took some of the worry out of college for his daughter.
“She didn’t have to worry about how she was going to feed herself or pay her bills,” he says. “She had backup and support, which was a nice security blanket.”
As a college student, Moen cycled through a number of majors — including music performance, music therapy, education, astrophysics, journalism and human services — before earning her associate of arts degree in public administration from LCCC. And through LCCC’s University Partnership with Cleveland State University, she graduated this spring with a bachelor’s degree in urban studies, with a focus on public management.
“I’m super happy with the decisions I made,” she says. “I chose urban studies and public administration because I want to be in a position to make a positive impact on my community.”
And she’s grateful to have earned her degrees without taking on a large amount of student debt.
“LCCC is the only college in the area that gives students the ability to earn a four-year degree while taking classes on the LCCC campus to save money,” Moen says. “Students can choose to complete all of their LCCC coursework before enrolling, or be dually enrolled and take both LCCC and partnership coursework at the same time.”
Eventually, she says, she wants to earn a master’s degree in public administration from Cleveland State. On her way to that goal, her father says LCCC was a godsend.
“It’s beyond amazing,” he says. “First and foremost, she got a really good education. But second, she walked out with a four-year bachelor’s degree without a house’s worth of loans. She owes a few thousand. I was hoping she’d go away to have the four-year college experience, but it’s not worth the loans. From my perspective as a parent, it was a pretty amazing opportunity.”
Staying local has sparked a passion for the hometown Moen once had every intention of leaving behind. Serving on LCCC’s Student Senate for almost three years — including a term as president — taught her valuable skills that will stay with her throughout her life.
“Working on the Senate taught me almost everything I know about working on an effective team and setting attainable goals,” she says. “I learned project management and how to identify my own leadership style. It also taught me to be introspective about my leadership style and understand my shortcomings and strengths as a leader.”
She also learned the importance of balancing task-oriented and emotionally oriented leadership.
“I learned how to work with people of differing ideologies and backgrounds, and how to motivate them to one common goal,” she says. “The experience of working with students with different opinions and motivations taught me about conflict resolution.”
Her public speaking skills also improved as she gained more experience.
“I began to feel comfortable standing in front of a room of hundreds of people and giving a presentation,” she says. “I thrived under pressure.”
In addition to her work with the college, Moen has gotten involved with improving public transportation in Lorain County as a volunteer.
“I think most of our county’s issues stem from a lack of transportation,” she says. “We’re working to connect people to transportation services, identifying the needs and filling the gaps through things like rideshare programs.”
And shortly after being asked to join its Campaign Cabinet, Moen accepted a full-time position with United Way of Greater Lorain County as a donor engagement specialist. She’s ready to pull from everything she’s learned — about public service, about her community and about herself — to continue making a positive impact.
“It’s exciting,” she says. “It’s essentially a group of people who are passionate about the county and want to see it prosper. I’m one of the key people on our marketing team coordinating and building relationships with loyal and major donors, all the while increasing awareness of the great work UWGLC does in our community.”