It was a great stepping-stone – a place to explore options, find herself and embark on a path to a job she loves.

That’s how Emma Petersen describes her experience at North Platte Community College. Petersen graduated from NPCC of May of 2016 with two degrees – an Associate of General Studies and an Associate of Arts.

She now works as the prevention, education and outreach coordinator for North Platte’s Rape/Domestic Abuse Program.

“It took me awhile to decide what I wanted to study,” said Petersen. “That was what was nice about NPCC. While I was figuring out what I was interested in, I was doing so at a price I could afford.”

She didn’t make the journey alone – the college’s faculty and staff were there to guide her every step of the way. That support was one of the reasons Petersen chose to attend NPCC in the first place.

“I go back now as an alum and visit people in the Admissions Office that I met as a student,” said Petersen. “From the time I stepped foot on campus, I thought the environment at NPCC was very personable.”

Her first experience with the college was as a junior in high school. Petersen participated in a couple of theater productions offered by NPCC, and as a result, made friends with some of the students and instructors.

Those friendships played a crucial role in her decision to attend NPCC following her high school graduation in 2014.

“The comfort aspect was big for me,” said Petersen. “Although I was born in North Platte, I moved around a lot when I was little and traveled quite a bit in high school. I wanted something stable and familiar in a college environment. NPCC was small enough that I could get to know people, but big enough to give me the space to grow.”

Petersen stayed involved with the theater department after enrolling at NPCC. She joined the theater club and was also an active member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Her initial goal was to study history, specifically ancient history, and one day become a museum curator. However, after taking Psychology, Petersen switched her focus to that and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the subject area from Chadron State College.

“Eventually, I would like to pursue counseling certifications, but for now, I’m really enjoying what I do,” said Petersen.

She travels to schools within RDAP’s six-county area: Lincoln, Logan, Hooker, Thomas, Cherry and McPherson, talking about violence prevention, providing one-on-one advocacy and offering community referrals. NPCC is one of her stops.

“Probably my favorite part is presenting to students,” said Petersen. “Parents aren’t always comfortable talking to their kids about things such as dating violence. I enjoy being able to explain, ‘Here’s what a healthy relationship looks like, and here’s how and where to get help if you need it’.”

She credits NPCC for leading her to that opportunity.

“I think the college is a huge asset to this area,” said Petersen. “It’s an important component not only in keeping people here, which I’m proof of, but also in moving rural Nebraska forward.”