Community college proves to be a good first step for second-time student

Ben Ochsner graduated from Phoenix High School in 2003.

“No one had ever talked to me about community college,” he recalls, “and I went straight to Oregon State University.” Quickly, he realized that he was in over his head academically, as many young students are during their first year in university. So Ben came back to the Rogue Valley and got a job with a local company. He worked for many years, but looking back on his career at the 10-year mark, he decided it was time to give college another try.

Friends advised him to try Rogue Community College; even the advisor at OSU recommended that he connect with an instructor at RCC, Science Department chair Dusty Rittenbach. Dusty became Ben’s advisor, instructor and the person who kept him on track through the prerequisites he needed to get back to OSU for his four-year degree.

“At RCC, it’s really structured for people trying to work and go to school. We can’t just drop everything, and RCC has evening classes — it really works with your schedule.”

Ben says that RCC was affordable, accessible and supportive. “My advisor and all the other students were really supportive. Working together, it makes you see that it’s not impossible. Every student that passes through RCC really works their hardest and I think that deserves recognition.”

RCC’s small class sizes, helpful instructors and faculty advisors put Ben on the path to success in college. He returned to OSU, and this time had three job offers before he even graduated. When he finished, he went to work in his chosen field, and now lives in Vancouver, Washington.

“RCC absolutely prepared me for courses at Oregon State,” Ben says. “I never felt out of my depth the second time at OSU.” Though, he says, he did miss the close-knit classes and relationships he built with other students and instructors at Rogue. We miss you too, Ben! Well done.

— Gene DePuy