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“Community college is not just about coming to learn and getting your associate degree,” says dual-enrolled high school student Elizabeth Bowen about student activities and classroom experiences.

Selling the Experience: Business Student Elizabeth Bowen

For Elizabeth Bowen, college is greater than classes you take. The experiences in the classroom and outside of it while she earns both an Associate in Arts and an Associate in Science from Beaufort County Community College are just as important as the subject matters she learns. The next destination of the dual-enrolled Beaufort County Early College High School student is East Carolina University (ECU), where she plans to earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration to pursue business law or return to Washington to help run her family’s hotel business.

When not in classes, she works with her family at the Fairfield Inn, cleaning rooms, preparing breakfast, or checking guests into rooms.

“I know how to check people in check people out, but I also help Mama do things with the hotel business to try to manage it,” she says.

The Bowen family sticks together, either through business or clubs. Elizabeth is one of four siblings who have gone through the early college high school. They all help with the hotel business and all of them plan to stay locally.

She is also the third sibling to join Gamma Beta Phi, the honor society at Beaufort CCC, where she serves as secretary. Gamma Beta Phi conducts service activities and fundraisers for local charities such as domestic violence shelters and homeless shelters.

“I just enjoy helping people because when I see other people happy, it makes me happy,” she says. “It just always brightens my day.”

Service and community engagement are important to Bowen. She is the vice president of the Student Government Association (SGA).

“SGA is basically the voice of the college,” she says. “I like to hear students’ opinions, and then see if we can incorporate that to try and make it a better atmosphere.”

SGA and student activities are what make college more than just an educational transaction.

“Community college is not just about coming to learn and getting your associate degree,” she says. “You're trying to make an experience out of it. Yes, people pay tuition, and some people get it for free, but it's the fun aspect of it, doing the different events we hold with SGA. It's very enjoyable. I like to help people realize more things about community college itself.”

While she emphasizes the total college experience, the fact that she will leave with two associate degrees is not lost on her. She will start at ECU ahead of her peers, both in terms of credits and college classroom experience. Through her classes, she learns amidst people from different backgrounds and experiences.

“When I first started [college] classes, it was definitely different because you would have people of different ages, and everybody's gone through different things in life. You'll hear different struggles that people have gone through, but with older people, you really hear all their life experiences and why they decided to come back to school and what stopped them.”

This experience gives her more insight and prepares her for a diverse classroom and business experience, including insights into returning customers.

“I really admire [returning students] because it takes a lot for people to come back to school, especially if they're a different age than what the typical other students are. It really does take a lot for people to come back to school and try a second time.”

In business, the experience of purchasing is as important as the product purchased. If the customer enjoys the experience, they are more likely to return a second time to get something new, so Bowen is working to make Beaufort CCC a place where people come back for the experience.

A new transfer program with East Carolina University is now available to Business Administration students. Students can complete a two-year Associate in Applied Science in Business Administration and transfer to ECU to complete a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA). Qualifying students from Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington Counties can earn their AAS in Business Administration free of tuition and fees, helping make the BSBA more accessible to area residents.