Posts tagged ‘success stories college’

Success Stories Series

Written April 25th, 2011
Categories: Success Stories
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Today marks the beginning of a series of posts that spotlight the success stories of Non-Traditional Students.  Many have overcome formidable obstacles, but have persevered nonetheless.  I hope you will be inspired, awed and moved by their accomplishments!

Connecting the Dots

by Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

Last week I was invited to hear the keynote speaker at a student conference being held at our college on behalf of our students.  The conference was geared towards preparing our students for leadership roles in their careers.  The keynote speaker was a former student who had taken my class “Speech & Public Speaking.”  Unfortunately, she was “snowed-in” in New York City and had to give her speech via Skype audio.  Her PowerPoint presentation was given simultaneously.

I remember her … even though it had been five years and a thousand students ago.  “Nickie” was the dream student.  She was an Art Education teacher out West and decided to make a career change by enrolling in a program at our school.  She was in her mid-twenties when she came to be a student in my class.  Nickie was an eager student whose mind was open and ready to take in the lessons that were offered to her.  She was unusual in that she did not treat “Speech class” like a class with assignments.  Nickie approached the class with the attitude of “How can I use this to help me with my career?”  That difference was all the difference.

During the 10 weeks she was in my class, she had an interview in New York City for an internship.  We had just covered argument-based persuasion, so she went to NYC with this new-found knowledge and felt prepared to handle the presentation and interview.  She did get the position, and returned to our classroom fired up about using the tools acquired in the classroom in the “real world.”

She had “connected the dots.”  We, as professors, offer “dots” to our students.  It is up to the students to connect them, to have them make sense, to use them.  Nickie was a Non-Traditional Student (NTS) in that she had already earned her Bachelor’s Degree and was pursuing a rewarding career.  She opted to change direction when she realized she needed and wanted more.  Even though she did not fit the numeric definition of a NTS (out of high school at least 10 years), she had a fully mature attitude toward learning and was highly motivated to effect change in her life.

She graduated in 2007 and has pursued a successful career as an independent designer, obtaining numerous contracts with prestigious firms.  She has also participated in many college-related events even though she lives in a different region of the country.  When she was asked to give the keynote address she requested that her former professors be e-mailed and invited to attend the opening program of the conference.  Before her presentation began, I asked the coordinator of the conference to let Nickie know that I was there.  Consequently, when she was wrapping up her speech, she gave an enthusiastic “shout-out” to me and thanked me for all she had learned in my class.

Yes, I did provide the dots she needed to help with the change in her career.  However, it was up to her to connect them – and so she did!

Second Chances

There are many people out there who did start college (at varying levels) but did not complete the degree program. The following article discusses students who took the leap and returned to school. Colleges are giving returnees the opportunity to finish what they started. Perhaps this article is talking about you?

Click here to read article.

Fantastic! “You Can Do College” – any time, any place, any age!

Written May 31st, 2010
Categories: You Can Do College
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An 84-year-old enrolls as a college freshman. This link takes you there. Listen to his reasons as to why he’s attending college. This is great!

Oh, Yes They Can!

by Joan Maynor, Ed.D.

I developed an affinity for nontraditional students first as a student and later as a college teacher. However, my fondest recollections occurred during my college years.

In my freshman year, I befriended two nontraditional students with whom I developed a lasting relationship beyond our college years. I was 18, Gloria was 38, and Elizabeth was 45. Although I was friends with each woman, they were only casual acquaintances to each other. Neither had attended college previously. College was a new experience. Gloria was a baker at a local bakery, and Elizabeth was a nurse’s aide at Memorial Medical Center. Both were in search of better job opportunities. Gloria was married with no children. She had the financial and moral support of her husband, a music teacher. Therefore, she could work reduced hours to attend college. Elizabeth was divorced with two minor children and five adult children, one of whom was also enrolled in our college freshman class. With no spousal support, she had to work full time, 11:00 pm to 7:00 am, five days per week.

Both of my friends attended college full time. I was in awe of them—how they managed their time and balanced school work and family time. I listened attentively to their stories of having worked several jobs with no career paths , their financial struggles, and their greatest fear—not assimilating in college. They thought they would be viewed as anachronisms. Gloria and Elizabeth were so caring and protective of me that I could not fathom why they could be so apprehensive about not fitting in. Gloria made sure I ate properly (she was convinced that I was developing an eating disorder because I would immerse myself so much in my studies that I frequently neglected to eat). Both Gloria and Elizabeth lectured me about “the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees.” They were my drum majors, rooting for me and taking pride in my academic honors and achievements.

Each of my friends contributed to our relationship. I helped Gloria with German and freshman composition. And she used her creativity to help me to design my projects—she was meticulous about presentation. Being a baker and self-taught seamstress, she had an eye for details. I helped Elizabeth with her research papers, and she, in return, typed her papers and mine. I lacked good keyboarding skills, and we had no Dell, Gateway, or Apple computers to make typing easy as it is today.

We three entered Savannah State in September 1968, and we each graduated in June 1972, exactly four years later. I graduated summa cum laude, and each of my friends graduated cum laude. In fact, Elizabeth’s grades exceeded those of her daughter, who also graduated along with us. Though I was the top graduating honoree, I was more impressed by my friends’ achievements. After all, I was a traditional student with parents and a scholarship to support my needs. While my friends had some limited financial aid, they had to incur a large portion of their college expenses. While I had the luxury to be self-indulging, they had to do a daring balancing act to make college work, and they did.

Both of my friends became fine elementary school teachers and I, a college professor of English. Gloria taught until her untimely death, and Elizabeth until she retired. Elizabeth and I are still friends. The age divide does not seem as great now that I am a grandmother and she a great-grandmother. Whenever we meet by chance, we always fondly recall our college days. She tells me I was the smartest young lady on campus, and I tell her that she was the most determined and focused student on campus.

Gloria and Elizabeth came to college with a wealth of life experiences and life skills that proved to be great assets. Perhaps their greatest asset was their people skills. They had learned how to network to maximize success. I adopted their networking skills and took them with me to graduate school. Whenever I would work in a group, I would contribute my strong writing skills, while someone would bring the “techy skills” to the group, and someone else, the time to gather the resources in the library. There were no web sources or online libraries available.

Because nontraditional students have varied life experiences and life skills, they can positively impact younger students. “Odd couples” can forge life-time relationships. Nontraditional students can weather obstacles to attending college. “Oh, yes, they can.”