When Nicolette Jordan started taking college level courses through Lorain County Community College while attending Firelands High School, she saw the big picture. She knew the head start would save her money and set her up for future academic success.
“I had always planned on pursing multiple higher education degrees, but I had no college fund,” Jordan says. “When I found out about the program offering free college credits while in high school, I decided to take full advantage of the opportunity.”
The benefits of LCCC’s College Credit Plus program played out just as Jordan expected. During her last two years of high school, she attended LCCC exclusively and in 2014 she graduated with her high school diploma and an associate of arts degree – for free. And then it was time to transfer to Cleveland State University, as a junior, at age 18.
A new world of understanding
Jordan knew she was building a solid educational foundation at LCCC, but she never imagined her time there would set her on the journey of a lifetime. And it all began with one class.
“When I took my first psychology class with professor Kelly McLaughlin, I instantly knew I wanted to become a psychology major,” Jordan says. “I was incredibly fascinated with the concepts, and I felt like I was being introduced to this new world of understanding of what guides human behavior.”
As Jordan began coursework focused on her pathway, she also found her social stride and an academic environment that felt like home. Jordan joined Psi Beta and Phi Theta Kappa, serving as community service officer, and represented LCCC on the All-Ohio Academic Team.
“No institution has ever made me feel as welcomed as LCCC,” she says. “It will always hold a special place in my heart.”
In her heart is where Jordan kept LCCC as she transferred to Cleveland State University and graduated with her bachelor’s degree in psychology at age 20.
The life-changing journey
Shortly after graduation, Jordan booked a trip to visit France, a country she’s always felt a strong connection to, partly from studying French all through college. Jordan became so immersed in Paris life that once home, she applied to the American University of Paris’ master’s degree program in global communications and was accepted.
Jordan spent two years studying in what she calls a truly international city – one that greatly expanded her worldview. The master’s program encouraged cultural study trips and allowed her to stay with a family in Morocco and travel to Egypt.
Not only did Jordan become fascinated with cultural differences but she reflected more on her own culture – one that can lead people to study and work to the point of exhaustion.
“I learned to slow down and appreciate each moment for what it was, either good or bad,” Jordan says.
That life lesson brought Jordan a new kind of appreciation when she returned home and faced heartache with the loss of her grandmother.
“I was very close with her and wanted to be near my family again. It just felt like the right time to come back.”
Bringing it all home
Jordan, who’s home now, says she’s “a collection of the moments, encounters and people I have met.” She feels the worldview she’s experienced will help her enact positive change in her community. And positive change is just what she has in mind as she ventures into the last leg of her educational journey, attending Law School at Cleveland Marshall College of Law.
It was during that application process that Jordan took time to reflect on her academic journey and the time she spent at LCCC. She even asked psychology professor McLaughlin to write a letter of recommendation.
“I have such fond memories of my time at LCCC. On my hardest days, someone was always there to encourage me and help me see the big picture,” Jordan says. “I wish I could go back and thank everyone individually for helping me get where I am today.”
Jordan expects to graduate in spring 2024 and, inspired by experience in the field, would like to work on post-conviction cases with those who have been wrongfully convicted.
“There are many injustices that need remedied, and I want to be a part of that change.”
As Jordan works toward the degree she’ll need to enact that change, she hopes to guide others toward the place that can help lay the foundation for their own journey of a lifetime.
“Everything in my life has built upon each other and it all started with my time at LCCC,” Jordan says. “Whether you’re thinking about taking college credit in high school, recently graduated, or thinking about finally going back to school, starting your higher education journey at LCCC will put you in a better position for the future.”