Guest Column

America, land of opportunities

By Autourina Mains
Posted 10/1/20

The United States is truly a land of opportunities for all, regardless of race, age, and socioeconomic background — and I am a living testament to that.

I came to the U.S. after I had lost …

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Guest Column

America, land of opportunities


The United States is truly a land of opportunities for all, regardless of race, age, and socioeconomic background — and I am a living testament to that.

I came to the U.S. after I had lost both parents at the age of 13. At first, I lived in California with one of my aunts, but since my sister, Klodette and her husband Rick were here in Powell, I came here to live with them. I always think God must have really loved my sister and I because he brought us to America and most lovingly, he brought us to my little Powell.

America is my beloved home but Powell is my favorite room. It is in Powell that I learned America is truly a land of opportunities for all of its citizens regardless of where they live, whether a small, rural town or a metropolitan area.

When I arrived in Powell, I attended my last year of high school, then I was able to attend Northwest College (NWC) which at that time was better known as Northwest Community College.

It is at Northwest College that I was able to complete an associate of arts degree and then later on transfer it to the University of Wyoming to obtain higher degrees through the online programs. As it turned out, I was not the only one in the family to attend NWC. My three children, my sister, my two nieces and my nephew attended NWC as well.

I often wonder what my family’s life may have been like if NWC was not in our area. NWC is truly fulfilling the vision and the mission of junior/community colleges and this little community college has touched so many lives.

Junior/community colleges have a fascinating history and the root of their establishment goes back to the Morrill Act of 1862. America has always realized that, in order to keep its global position, it is vital to have an educated society — unlike some countries who have to import their educated workforce.

The United States values education and training so highly that it established junior/community colleges with the sole mission of community development, open access and social equality. The unique beauty of junior/community colleges is that they are not limited to being a transfer institution. Through their vocational/certification training, junior/community colleges play a crucial role in workforce development of our small, rural communities.

If NWC was not in Powell, neither I nor any member of my family would have been able to attend a university, because we could not afford it. I even came back to NWC as a non-traditional student to finish a second associate degree before I transferred to UW’s online program. America is second to none in the world in offering educational opportunities to non-traditional students. Adults of any age can return to college to re-train, or change professions completely.

Northwest College offers grants and scholarships to meet the missions of open access and social equality and it offers certificate programs as well as vocational training for community and workforce development. A good number of the staff at NWC are former students who got their training/education right here and chose to stay in Powell to serve the community. Powell is truly the proud home of Northwest College and we are so fortunate to have this jewel in our community.

As with every other institution in the country, NWC is facing challenging economic times, but we are fortunate to be in a supportive community that values this institution for its ongoing growth and development. Northwest College provides unlimited opportunities of growth and expansion for our community and it is vital for us to continue to do all we can to keep it here.

When God brought me to Powell, I had no idea of the blessings he was bestowing on me. Powell is my sanctuary where I have rest and peace. Needless to say, NWC is near and dear to my heart and I pray for it every day. It warms my heart when I think my grandchildren will attend NWC as well because they can receive a great education right here in our own little town and they will be the third generation from my family to attend NWC.

I feel privileged to have the opportunity to serve NWC and to give back to my community in a small way.


(Autourina Mains is the manager of the Children’s Learning and Care Center at Northwest College. She obtained an associate’s degree in early childhood education from NWC in 2000, followed by a bachelor’s degree in professional child development, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction (specializing in special education) and a doctor of education in adult and post-secondary education leadership, all from the University of Wyoming.)

Guest Column