August 11, 2016
Courtney Cole Concert
Community college students and representatives with Courtney Cole (center). Second from left is SFCC graduate Mary Wright and fifth from left is Dr. Brent Bates, vice president of Educational Services.

SEDALIA – Last night more than 250 people turned out to see rising CMT (Country Music Television) artist Courtney Cole and hear how Missouri’s rural colleges are changing the lives of students across the state.

“I never knew that I would love wiring cabinets and building big machines, but I do, and I am good at it.” Stephanie Ley, Moberly Area Community College graduate said in a video aired at the event.

Stephanie is a mother of seven and is currently working part time as an electrical control technician at Vulcan Systems. She also plans to start teaching this fall as an adjunct professor in Moberly’s mechatronics program. Stephanie was one of four students at the event who shared how they overcame the challenges in their lives in order to further their education.

“We were extremely excited to partner with CMT on this initiative,” Liz Roberts, MoWINs Deputy Project Manager for the Missouri Community College Association said. “Choosing to go to college can be a difficult decision for many individuals in our state. There are a lot of obstacles that can get in the way, but we wanted to show with this event that furthering your education is attainable. The students we showcased tonight are evidence of that.”

Through the Missouri Community College Association, nine of Missouri’s rural colleges partnered with Country Music television on the event, which was held on State Fair Community College’s campus.

“We were delighted to partner with CMT, MCCA and our sister colleges to host this event at SFCC,” said Dr. Joanna Anderson, SFCC president. “The students’ inspirational stories are a testament to the work that all community colleges do to help students earn college degrees. The message that college empowers individuals and changes lives was articulated by the entertainers Bluestem and Courtney Cole and the student panel. Sometimes it just takes one person to make the difference, and that’s what community colleges offer—personal touch, a helping hand and assistance with resources to lift barriers and make dreams come true. The event was a terrific way to tell our story and have fun with great musical entertainment.”

Missouri is the first statewide consortium to take part in the CMT Empowering Education Initiative, bringing the total reach of the program to 25 colleges across 17 states.

“Although the number of available jobs is on the rise nationally, many go unfilled due to the lack of applicants with the necessary skills or credentials; rural areas are among those which struggle the most,” Lucia Folk, the vice president of public affairs for CMT said. “Through this initiative, we’re working in smaller communities to highlight the available tools and resources to earn degrees and certificates. In less than two years, we’ve nearly doubled our reach, but there’s still much more to do.”

With star-power from a rising CMT artist and by highlighting student success stories, the program helps prospective students learn about solutions to some of the biggest obstacles they face, including financial aid and part-time programs.

The headliner of last night’s event was Courtney Cole whose recent single hit # 1 on Taste of Country’s Top 10 Countdown. She also opened for Miranda Lambert on the 2015 ‘Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour’.

“There’s no better way to start a show than having these inspiring students share their stories,” Cole said. “It’s also an honor to be able to share mine through the power of music.”

Cole was chosen as the spokesperson of the campaign in April and will headline 10 events at community colleges across the nation over the course of the year.

Cole’s new self-titled EP is now available on iTunes and Spotify. Her latest single, “Ladylike”, co-written with Shane McAnally and Jimmy Robbins, has been added to Spotify’s New Boots playlist.

More information about all twelve of Missouri’s community colleges can be found on the Missouri Community College website at

About CMT EMPOWERING EDUCATION: CMT EMPOWERING EDUCATION is a comprehensive educational campaign that provides an online resource, CMTEMPOWERINGEDUCATION.COM, to aid CMT viewers in overcoming the most common perceived obstacles to furthering education. The site aggregates the multitude of existing, quality information, in one easy-to-navigate, central location, creating an individualized education action plan for each user. CMT EMPOWERING EDUCATION supports Viacom’s overarching GET SCHOOLED initiative, a national platform that connects, inspires and mobilizes people – from policymakers and corporate leaders to communities and kids – to find effective solutions to the problems facing our education system.

About COURTNEY COLE: Courtney Cole is introducing her unique brand of fun-filled, energetic sound to fans with her new self-titled EP, now available on iTunes and Spotify. Her latest single, “Ladylike”, co-written with Shane McAnally and Jimmy Robbins, has been added to Spotify’s New Boots playlist. After being named a Spotify Spotlight Artist and one of Huffington Post’s Country Artists to Watch in 2015, Courtney ended last year with a bang as the opening act on Miranda Lambert’s Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars Tour.

With a new publishing deal at Warner/Chappell and named one of CMT’s Next Women of Country, Courtney is only just getting started. Gearing up in 2016 to hit the road opening for acts such as Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, and Thomas Rhett, she is bringing her hometown spirit of New Orleans into her music, her empowering lyrics and her live show. Check out Courtney at, Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram.

About MCCA: The Missouri Community College Association is a statewide organization through which Missouri’s community colleges work together to advance common agendas. MCCA provides advocacy, professional development, information, and networking opportunities in service of the state’s 5,700 community college faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees.

Courtney Cole concert
Cole visits with an attendee after the concert.
Community college panel discussion
Community college student panel shares stories with audience about going to college. Second from left is SFCC graduate Mary Wright.

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