"Students here like what they do," she said. "With a degree, normally, they can get higher pay. Most of my students go and work as paraprofessionals."
As students took their seats on a Friday morning, she noted their backgrounds.
One helps in a classroom at an alternative school. Another works for a not-for-profit. One of the few men in the classroom does psychiatric social work.
"With a two-year degree, many become supervisors," said Susan, associate professor of the Human Services Technoog program. "They earn $15 an hour. With high school, it's just $10 an hour."
The 15-year-old program has a good reputation.
"My job placement rate is 92 percent," said Susan.
Social service agencies come to SWIC job fairs. Through the school's career center, students share resumes online.
Student Shameca Jones studied notecards for a test the following period.
"She's balancing about a hundred different things," Susan said of Shameca. "She has a full time job, she's a full-time student ... Most of my students have that kind of life."
Shameca Jones is in the middle of a juggling act.
The SWIC human services technology student, who is married and has two children, takes five classes, works full-time at a south St. Louis County nursing home, works for a nonprofit and conducts a women's support group on Tuesday nights.
"It's very difficult, very difficult," said the 29-year-old who lives in East St. Louis. "I am doing it, but I am tired a lot of times. Classes are in the day and some evening.
"For this semester, it took a week to come up with a schedule that takes into account not only my personal goals, but my commitment to my husband and children."
Shameca switched her major from administration of justice to social work after getting involved with the nonprofit organization, Assisting Children of Prison Parents (ACOPP.org).
Her husband, Hakee Mitchell, started ACOPP five years ago in St. Louis and recently opened an office near the Emerson Park MetroLink platform.
The two met online.
"She was on the ACOPP website filling out a volunteer form," said Hakee, 38. "She had seen it on Facebook and built up an interest. We didn't know each other, nor did we know she would become program director and become excellent at the job."
The nonprofit helps children maintain connections with a parent in prison through letter writing, phone calls and visits. The organization finds these children through community outreach, social networking and word-of-mouth.
"The issue is so huge," said Hakee. "So many have incarcerated parents. It's like you are playing catch-up, If one child goes into prison and perpetuates the cycle, we have failed."
How did Hakee get into this?
"Unfortunately, I was a prison parent," he said. "I have a daughter, 18, and a son, 16. They were 3 and 1 when I went to prison on July 6, 2001."
While serving 8 1/2 years of a 10-year sentence for assault, he became aware how important connections with his children were.
"I was in Missouri prisons, four or five hours away from home. It was not like you could see your children every day. Because I had a connection, when I got out I felt like I had something to contribute.
"When I got home, I had this passion in me to do something to help this situation. Some of the guys in prison are not bad people. They made a mistake."
That's the way Shameca looks at it.
On May 5, they celebrate their first anniversary.
"Once we met and I started dealing with youth, I found my place. This is it. It's our life," she said. "It's 24/7 ... ACOPP will always be something I am involved with."
She also wants to be involved in another aspect of social work.
"After I do my internship, (working under the director of social services at Sunset Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center in St. Louis) I am considering being a substance abuse counselor, but I don't want to limit myself."
Shameca and Hakee recently moved from St. Louis to East St. Louis with her children LaDeja Jones, 12, and Taylen Jones, 7.
"It made sense to live in the area where we were working," she said.
On a typical Friday, Shameca gets up at 5:30, and makes sure her son and daughter get up and head for school. She catches MetroLink at 9 for SWIC, has classes until 1:40, takes MetroLink back, and waits for them to get out of school at 4.
The rest of the day, she devotes to her children.
"They know every Friday is their time," said Shameca, who describes her family as laid back and interested in playing board games and dancing.
"If we do something in the community, we like to roller skate or go to the movies."
Taylen doesn't express an opinion about Mom being so busy, but LaDeja is understanding.
"She knows it's a process to better myself," said Shameca, "and as a mother to provide for them. She's sticking it out with me. It motivates her as well to be what she has in mind to be when she gets older."
Still, the busy mom has moments when she wonders, "What am I doing?"
"I have probably thought that every day of this semester. What did I get into? I just pray about it and look at my children to keep pushing forward to know that hard work pays off."
Advice: "I would definitely encourage them to pursue their own goals. However, they may have other individuals as part of their life. It's a matter of sitting down and going over your schedule to make sure you have a strong support system."