|MC Photo by Rebecca Bell|
By Rebecca Bell
Dean of Community Relations & Special Events
“I would have had a 4.0 grade point average during my undergraduate coursework at Midland College and Texas A&M had it not been for that chemistry course at Midland College!” exclaimed Amy Stretcher Burkes.
“February 2007 was a busy month for me. I was Vice President of the Student Government Association on campus and was in charge of coordinating all of the homecoming events. I was also nominated and crowned the Homecoming Queen during the halftime of the basketball game. I had a big chemistry test the next day and I fell short of getting that A. However, I have no regrets. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I’d do the same thing!”
Burkes said that she loved attending Midland College (MC) and being active in the college’s vibrant student life activities. In addition to being vice president of the Student Government Association, she was co-president of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and a member of Students in Philanthropy. She graduated with an Associate of Science degree in May 2007, and during the commencement ceremony, she was recognized as one of only two Honors Program graduates.
“One of the advantages of attending Midland College is there are lots of opportunities to get involved and be active while receiving a great education from professors who really care about their students,” stated Burkes. “When I graduated from Midland Christian School in 2005, I wanted to attend Midland College because of the scholarship opportunities and its reputation for quality education.
“Of course, I was no stranger to Midland College. The college has been an integral part of my life since I was a little girl—for over 20 years! I attended Kids’ College in the summers when I was in grade school. Then, when I was in high school I was employed as a Kids’ College runner. I was on the tennis team at Midland Christian, and we used Midland College’s tennis courts for our games and practices. I also helped with summer tennis camps at Midland College while I was in high school, and then during the summer of 2006, I taught basketball at Kids’ College. So, I’ve spent a LOT of time at Midland College!”
When Burkes graduated from Midland College, she received the Abell-Hanger Continuance Scholarship, which is specifically awarded to a Midland College graduate who is transferring to a university. She enrolled in Texas A&M University in fall 2007 and during her time there she maintained a 4.0 grade point average while majoring in Human Resources and minoring in Business.
“I enjoyed A&M, but unlike being at Midland College, at A&M I was just a number,” stated Burkes. “When I was at Midland College, all my professors knew my name and they were available to speak with me at any time. I will always be grateful to Linda Penny, Joseph Severino and Michael Dixon for taking the time to explain math to me in a way that actually made sense. (Math has never been my strong suit.)”
Burkes also cited Dr. Todd Houck, Dr. Damon Kennedy and David Edens as being professors who made a lasting impression on her by their willingness to take time to explain things and their genuine desire to help students succeed.
After graduating from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree, Burkes returned to Midland and worked for the Midland Independent School District’s AVID program. She was also busy volunteering in various Midland civic and nonprofit organizations and was back at MC once again—this time taking prerequisite courses for pharmacy school.
The year 2012 was a banner year. She started dating her long-time friend from Midland Christian School Jonathan Burkes who had also found his way back to the Permian Basin as a 4th-year medical school student attending Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Odessa.
“Jonathan and I had been friends since 7th grade, and we were varsity tennis teammates throughout high school,” said Amy. “Jonathan received his undergraduate degree from A&M and was there at the same time I was. Our paths would cross from time to time, but we never dated each other during those years at College Station. I can’t believe it took us so long to figure out we were right for one another.”
Burkes said that one hiccup in the relationship was her acceptance into Texas Tech Pharmacy School in Abilene in fall 2012. She spent a year in Abilene, and was vice president of her class, but the attraction to Jonathan was too strong, and she decided to put a career in the health industry on hold.
In May 2015, Amy and Jonathan were married. They currently live in Kansas City, KS, where Jonathan is working on his residency in orthopedics at the University of Kansas Hospital. After their marriage, Amy, who still maintains her dream of working in healthcare, enrolled in nursing school at Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri.
“I was only able to attend nursing school for a year,” explained Amy. “Our daughter Betsy was born on November 19, 2016, and it is important to us that I be at home with her right now. Our long-range plan is to move back to Midland. When Jonathan completes his residency, he plans to join West Texas Orthopedics.”
The couple have already started business ties in Midland. They are partners with Jonathan’s brother and his wife in West Texas Yard Cards. The business, which specializes in yard art celebrating weddings, graduations, birthdays and other special events, has only been operating since April 2017; however, it is already proving to be a success. Through her computer, Amy is able to take care of scheduling and inventory control while in Kansas. Jonathan’s brother and sister-in-law, who live in Odessa, do the actual physical work involved in placing and removing the yard art.
“Depending on whether or not Jonathan accepts a fellowship, we plan to move back to Midland in either 2019 or 2020,” said Amy. “Midland is home, and Jonathan and I are looking forward to being closer to our families. At that time, Betsy will be older, and I will be able to complete nursing school—hopefully at Midland College. It looks like I will be back at Midland College once again, and that’s a good thing. After all, I’ve been attending Midland College for over 20 years!”