Macks Creek classmates, teammates and friends Chase Whitworth and Daniel Cortes are both headed to OTC in the fall thanks to the help of their rootEd advisor.
Growing up, 2023 Macks Creek High School graduate Chase Whitworth knew which doctor’s offices had the best toys in the waiting room. Unfortunately, being a connoisseur of waiting room toys means he spent a lot of time in hospitals and doctor’s offices. Chase and his family even visited the famed Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to figure out his health challenges.
“Beginning at about 3 or 4, I would just pass out,” Chase said. “They could never figure out what was wrong. Around 11, I just grew out of it.”
Chase’s health issues and the medical professionals who tried to help him shape his career goals.
“The time I spent in hospitals as a kid, that was my inspiration to become a physician’s assistant,” Chase said.
Unfortunately, his health issues also left Chase’s family with bills and debt they are still trying to pay off. However, thanks to the A+ state scholarship, which pays tuition and fees for students at any community college in the state, he can attend Ozarks Technical Community College in the fall to pursue the first two years of his bachelor’s degree.
While Chase had his post-high school plans figured out, he was concerned for his friend and basketball teammate Daniel Cortes.
“He came into my office one day and said, ‘I’m worried about Daniel,'” said Candy Bothwell, the boys’ rootEd advisor.
Candy’s role as a rootEd advisor is to provide dedicated college and career advice to Macks Creek 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.
Daniel lives in Macks Creek with his aunt. When his mom moved to Rolla with his siblings, Daniel chose to stay in Macks Creek to finish high school with his friends. He has a good friend in Chase who told Daniel he should go with him to OTC, and they could live with Chase’s brother, who attends Missouri State.
“I didn’t even really think about going to college until this year,” Daniel said. “When I started looking at A+, it seemed like a good opportunity.”
Like his friend, Daniel wants to work in healthcare. He hopes to enroll in the physical therapist assistant program.
Daniel was able to apply to college with Candy’s help. She assists all Macks Creek seniors with their financial aid forms, college applications and resumes.
“She has helped tremendously. If I have questions, I come running into her office and say, ‘Mrs. Bothwell, help,'” Chase said. “She brings brownies too.”
This school year was Candy’s first year at Macks Creek, and she got to know her students personally. She is invested in their success.
“They are both such sweet boys,” Candy said. “I am so glad they have each other to lean on as they take this next step in their lives.”
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.