Wallace State’s Shane Morrow takes advantage of Prior Learning Assessment to quickly earn degree

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Shane Morrow (Photo courtesy of WSCC) 

HANCEVILLE, Ala. — Shane Morrow said earning his degree in machine tool technology at Wallace State Community College opened many doors to further his career. The Jasper resident had worked in the field most of his adult life, but did not have the degree that has now allowed him to begin teaching others. 

Morrow graduated Parrish High School in 2000 and took some classes at Bevill State before entering the workforce as an apprentice and earning certificates through the Department of Labor. He spent the next 16 years working in the field before he was approached about possibly teaching. While he was making a good living as a machine tool technologist, without a degree, he wouldn’t be able to teach. That’s where Wallace State and the benefits of Prior Learning Assessment came in. 

Prior Learning Assessment allows individuals transfer career experience and/or credentials earned on the job into credits for some college courses. With credits from core classes that he took at Bevill State shortly after high school and his work experience and credentials, Morrow was able to cut the credits needed to complete his degree by more than half.  

“I had to take one ethics class and maybe six or seven machine tool technology classes,” he said. “Out of the 45 or 46 credits I needed for MTT, I was able to do PLA for about 27-28 of those.” 

Morrow said being able to use Prior Learning Assessment was extremely beneficial to him, allowing him to complete his degree without taking classes he didn’t need due to his prior experience in the field. 

He expressed his thanks to both Susan Peek, who helped determine his PLA, and MTT Instructor Gary McMinn. 

“Susan Peek was very informative and helpful,” he said. “She was very quick to answer an email or answer a call and point me in the right direction. 

“Gary McMinn was great to work around my work schedule,” he added. “I called Gary after graduation and he took the time to coach me for my interviews.” 

Morrow said Wallace State exceeded all of his expectations. 

“I was blown away,” he said. “Not only was I not just a number, but everyone I came in contact with at Wallace genuinely cared.” 

Morrow is now teaching machine tool technology at Bevill State in Jasper and plans to earn his bachelor’s degree. He encourages anyone working in their field and who may want to advance in their careers to look into Wallace State and Prior Learning Assessment.  

“Some shops you really don’t have room to grow without an associate degree,” Morrow said. “Some corporations want to see that degree before you get a supervisor or programming role.” 

This is one in a series of spotlights and events to be featured in April as Wallace State celebrates national Community College Month. Visit www.wscccalumni.org/ccmonth21 for more information.