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Event to help adults continue their education

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REENFIELD — Adults hoping to get into college could get their financial questions answered in a special event set for next month.

The Education Experience is designed specifically for adults who want to attend college classes, and one of several steps Danielle Daugherty has been taking since becoming the director of Hancock County L.I.N.K.

Daugherty, six months on the job in a new initiative to link county residents with higher education opportunities, said Leaders in Navigating Knowledge has become a tool to help local residents one at a time.

“People need to know it’s possible – it’s just what you have time for,” Daugherty said.

L.I.N.K. is an offshoot of other efforts to bring college courses to the county over the years. While bricks-and-mortar plans to bring Ivy Tech Community College and other universities to the county have been met with opposition from elected officials in recent years, L.I.N.K. is a scaled-back initiative to connect local residents to colleges.

Daugherty, who works out of the Hancock County Community Foundation building, said the Feb. 25 Education Experience will help adult learners navigate the FAFSA student aid application process. It will coincide with several FAFSA events at local high schools, but Daugherty said the event at the Hancock County Public Library will provide an opportunity for adults to learn more about the cost of college.

Randy Harris, chairman of the L.I.N.K. board and superintendent of Eastern Hancock schools, said it can be intimidating for adult learners to go back to a high school to learn about financial aid for college. The adult event at the library offers neutral ground, a free meal and child care.

“What kind of turnout are we going to get? We don’t know,” Harris said. “But for some of those who have graduated or left high school, some of the older ones who are looking for opportunities to pursue higher education, it’s probably not as welcoming to them to return to one of those high schools and fill out the forms.”

Daugherty said there will also be a program at the event to help people compare the cost of several colleges side-by-side.

“I’ve got my work cut out for me to get this information out to the community,” she added.

The last six months on the job have been busy for Daugherty. She has been meeting one-on-one with people who are hoping to attend college. She also takes calls on those wanting to get their GED, and follows up to make sure they’re meeting their education goals.

Daugherty was also instrumental in bringing back a dental assisting program of Vincennes University, which will be held Feb. 4 through June 12 at Hancock Regional Hospital. Later this year, Daugherty said, she’d like to initiate a countywide career and college fair.

“I really envision this to highlight what careers are available and having the credentialed providers right here to answer questions,” she said.

A physical building for college courses is not completely out of the picture for Hancock County, Harris said, but it hasn’t been talked about in months. County and city officials have been leery about investing tax dollars in college buildings, and Harris said for now L.I.N.K. will focus on providing resources for county residents to meet their goals.

“We’re really focusing on the people part of it – how do we link up people with people, and people with education opportunities,” he said.

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