No one in Samantha Patton's family has ever graduated from college. Sam hopes to change all that this fall when she heads to OTC to become a pastry chef.
Growing up in Climax Springs, Samantha Patton would watch cooking shows with her grandmother. Television programs like “Martha Bakes” and “The Great British Baking Show” sparked her passion for baking and cooking. Samantha’s passion flourished when she enrolled in the Lake Career and Technical Center in Camdenton to pursue culinary arts.
“I love making bread, cakes and cookies,” Samantha said. “Just little hand-held treats.”
This fall, the 18-year-old, who goes by Sam, will continue her quest to become a pastry chef when she begins the baking and pastry program at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield.
When Sam graduates from OTC, she will also become the first person in her family with a college degree.
“I want more for my life than where I came from,” Sam said. “My parents told me to go and be something. They want me to have a better life than they do.”
Sam’s parents wanted her to attend a small, private, religious-affiliated college. However, she would have borne any costs not covered by financial aid.
At Climax Springs, Sam completed the requirements to earn the state’s A+ Scholarship, which will pay for tuition and fees at any state community college. OTC made sense financially, and it has a culinary program.
Besides the support she received from her teachers, Sam worked with rootEd advisor Candy Bothwell. She started working at Climax Springs at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.
Candy’s role as a rootEd advisor is to provide dedicated college and career advice to Climax Springs High School students through the rootEd Missouri program. rootEd Missouri places college and career advisors in rural high schools throughout the state to ensure every student has a strong plan for success after graduation.
“When I first started, I met with all of the seniors and realized Sam is functioning independently,” Candy said. “She just needed help taking care of business. Things like applying for college and filling out financial aid forms.”
Sam is not afraid of hard work. Starting at 16, she worked in a combination gas station and restaurant, doing whatever needed to get done. Now, she works 30 hours a week at a golf resort’s restaurant.
One of the keys to Sam’s success — she insists on being on time.
“I hate being late,” Sam said. “I don’t want to be the person walking in and asking, ‘What’s going on?'”
That attitude will serve her well as she moves to Springfield in a few months to begin a new chapter in her life.
“I just want to get a good job, make a decent living, and have a decent future,” Sam said. “Better than what I have now.”
rootEd Missouri is a partnership among the state’s education department, Ozarks Technical Community College and national philanthropic organization rootEd Alliance. Launched in 2018, rootEd Alliance partners with local entities to fund, train and place dedicated college and career advisors in rural high schools in various states. These advisors work alongside school counselors to ensure every student graduates high school on a path to achieve career success and economic mobility.
In 2021, rootEd schools saw college enrollment rates increase by 11% over pre-rootEd years amid a 6% decline in national enrollment. Enrollment rates in rootEd schools in Missouri specifically increased by 7.5% overall and by as much as 14% at select sites. Moreover, one-third of college-bound students across all rootEd schools reported they wouldn’t be going to college if it weren’t for their advisor.