College of the Ozarks is a small, private, 4-year Liberal Arts College located just south of Branson, Missouri. I graduated from this institution just three and a half months ago, and I look back on my time there with great fondness.

This college is also known as Hard Work U. The students here don’t rack up student loans. This college focuses on the importance of graduating debt-free, and helps students accomplish this by offering several workstations where each student puts in the hours and earns their education.

Workstations include the Farmer’s Market, the dairy, landscaping, Dobyns Dining Room at the Keeter Center, the student cafeteria, dorm workers, the Ralph Foster Museum, the Jones Theater Company, Christian Ministries, the music department (this was my workstation for the duration of my stay here), laundry, the fire station, construction and several faculty offices… and there are many more.

As a graduate of College of the Ozarks, the importance placed on hard work is something that will stay with me forever. I saw myself as a hard worker before going to school here, but now it is engrained in me. I’ll tell you why.

I have been somewhat of a perfectionist for the majority of my life. So naturally, I want to get really good grades in school. Before C of O (another nickname for College of the Ozarks), this was rather easy for me to accomplish. People all have different gifts, and mine was in the area of schoolwork and doing well on tests. My classes at C of O challenged me, and I had to up my game in order to keep my good grades. In some cases, I had to take my level of dedication to a whole new level. Just ask my husband… he remembers those evenings of endless study, followed by going to bed, then getting up before the sun to study some more.

My first B came in a class called Aural Training III (sight singing and ear training). This is embarrassing to admit, but this class made me cry. Now, I’ll tell you I’m SO proud of that B. I worked so hard and couldn’t get it “perfect,” but I gave my all and that’s why I’m more proud of that grade than almost any other grade.

My workstation was a different story. My first few semesters, my job was very easy. I worked in the music department, and simply did whatever someone asked me to do. I scanned student IDs and stage managed at Wednesday recitals, cleaned and ordered supplies for the office, wrote a few newsletter articles, helped with band moves and organized music for professors. As I came out of my shell and began to grow as a person in different qualities, I started seeking more responsibility in my workstation and it was definitely handed to me. My last two semesters I was **in charge** of the newsletter, and had so much more going on than my previous semesters… including preparing for my senior recital and graduation.

What you can take away from that was my life was REALLY busy. How did I make it through?

I made it through like all the other students made it through—dedication to hard work, the backbone of C of O. I made it with the guidance of my professors and peers, and the encouragement from seeing friends and co-workers around me push through their hardships. **AND** in no way can I leave this out: C of O is committed to Christ. Being surrounded by a community striving to bring God glory through serving others is what it all came down to. I can’t tell you how many times I felt pressured beyond what I thought I could handle, and just when I needed it most I would be reminded that God never gives us more than we can handle, that He is our strength when we are weak, that I don’t have to rely on my own strength to accomplish what needed to be done, but that I could lean on God’s strength and He would fuel me in my need.

Honestly, I don’t remember everything from all of my classes during college. (I wish I did, but one can always go back and review.) But learning what I’ve shared with you here is something that I value greatly, something I’ll keep forever, and something I hope you will find and embrace, wherever you may be.