April 20, 2020

Once she graduated high school, Zamira Laurie wanted to avoid debt at all costs, so she worked as a studio photographer for a retail chain for two years. When she was ready to continue her education, she  enrolled in courses at Century College, and began to explore different majors on the way to getting her Associate’s Degree.

Affordable, Flexible Classes and Helpful Support Services

“I realized that tuition was affordable in comparison to other colleges in the area and I was eligible for financial help through FAFSA,” Zamira remembers, “Century also has a lot of support services for students. As a first-generation college student, I was eligible to enter the TRIO Program, which provides additional help to students through free tutoring, advising and scholarship help. There is also a mobile food bank that visits the college once a month and provides fresh food to students at no cost.”

Additionally, Zamira enjoyed Century College’s flexible, online and hybrid classes. “Century College gave me the room to explore possible careers (through classes, Student Success Day workshops) while being cost-efficient,” Zamira says, “The College allowed me to network with other students and staff members who are passionate about their work.  In addition, The West Campus Computer Lab and East Campus Library were both places I would frequent when looking for a quiet place to study.”

Work Study and Professional Opportunities

Zamira has always been interested in the fields of Psychology and Art, and wanted her work life to provide a combination of those interests.  She secured a work-study position at the St. Paul Public Library.  “Fortunately I was able to work in the Library’s new adult artist makerspace, the Innovation Lab, which was perfect for me,” Zamira reflects. 

Additionally, she secured an internship at the Fraser Center in Woodbury, which specializes in the treatment of Autism.  She worked with preschool children, engaged in goal objectives.  “Jessie Breyer-Peterson, (Psychology faculty) was instrumental in helping me get that internship,” Zamira says. “And when it came to photography instruction, Art faculty Melissa Borman taught me the technological aspects of using my camera; therefore helping me hone my photography skills.”

She graduated in May 2019 with her Associate in Arts degree and a Certificate in Mental and Behavioral Health.

Making a Difference

After graduating, Zamira applied to be the Digital Skills Instructor for the library and was promoted to that position. “I enjoy the work I do because it is fulfilling and allows me to connect with others through a shared interest in learning about art and digital literacy. I can see the impact I make on other’s lives everyday. I have met patrons who go through much hardship in their life but continue to stay motivated and passionate, showing up every day to our makerspace and working on their art and small businesses. In turn, the patrons I work with have also made a big impact on me,”  Zamira says.

Future Plans

Zamira will attend the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) in the fall, and will attain her BA degree in Entrepreneurial Studies.  She plans to build up her art and business skills so that she can eventually have her own business and/or work independently in a creative environment.  “I always recommend Century College to my friends.  It’s a great place to start and save money on your education,” Zamira says. “My experiences there helped give me a firm career footing, and ensured my career success.”


Find out more about Century College: