I met Jennifer Nedrow-Lowder in July of 2009. She came to me as a referral from the Center for New Directions at Eastern Idaho Technical College. Her educational plan was to receive an associate’s degree in automotive technology. She is best described as a non-traditional student defined through EITC as a female entering a male-dominated field of employment. I was impressed by her motivation and courage to follow her passion. She was one of the few ARRA clients who had somehow found a way to make ends meet on her own. She was a single mom raising three daughters, and had a young lady living with her who needed a stable environment that Jennifer could provide. I could see something in Jennifer that made her unique and stand apart from most. She faced resistance and found herself confronted with incredibly difficult barriers that would have made it impossible for most to complete her education; but she was receptive and willing to accept assistance while she attended school.
Jennifer is not one to turn away from responsibility. She was working while attending school and had planned to continue working. During the early period of her education, she had dental concerns that were addressed and that ultimately interfered in her ability to sustain employment. She also had knee surgery which had long-term complications that forced her to live on unemployment and child support for a time. The child support was unstable and was probably going to be decreased. She was eventually forced to move from her home and find something within her means. She also dealt with a school conflict directly related to a teacher that forced her to make the difficult decision to change her educational plans. After lengthy discussions with her counselor at The Center for New Directions and me, she had decided that,” sacrificing my dignity was not worth completing the class.” She understood that her choice to withdraw would impact her plans because now she would have to commit to attending EITC during the summer to keep her program on track. Because of the educational funding available from the ARRA Stimulus funds that EICAP received, I was able to assist with various needs that Jennifer had while attending EITC. I was able to assist with rent, auto repairs and insurance for 6 months, Tuition and books for the spring semester of 2010. I am also proud to say that the funding was able to pay for the tuition for summer semester of 2010.
I am not the only person to recognize just how outstanding this individual is. The truth is, most who are fortunate enough to meet Jennifer know that she is one in a million and will go to great lengths to ensure her success. She was the recognized for a scholarship through the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation at EITC for the 2010-2011 school year. The scholarship was for full tuition and fees, books, and required tools for the first year of the auto program. Life presented that diesel technology was a better option for her at the time so she reluctantly switched with the support of both her instructor and division manager.
Jennifer is graduating with honors on May 8, 2012 and will be the first female recipient of an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Diesel Technology. She has opened doorways to other females who also wish to pursue a career in Automotive & Diesel Technologies. She is the first female to secure employment at Idaho Falls Peterbilt, Inc. and has been successfully employed for over 6 months. Jennifer has always had to prove herself in every step she has made towards her career. Few have met her with open arms but all have embraced her and supported her above and beyond her own expectations. Jennifer has a grace and confidence that is overshadowed only by her potential and abilities and because of that, she is surrounded by people who support her and have a tremendous amount of confidence in her. This award does not do justice to who Jennifer is or what she stands for. EITC is anxiously waiting for Jennifer’s return this fall to complete her AS in automotive technologies in hopes of securing her future in all opportunities that may allow her to stay in her field while continuing to support her family.