Returning to college full-time after a 14-year absence was absolutely overwhelming, but for me it was absolutely about time. I received my associate’s degree in liberal studies from a community college in 2000, but I had taken classes a little at a time while working full-time and raising a family.
Now the time had come for me to take a leap of faith. I quit my full-time job in exchange for a part-time night-shift position, signed off on every student loan I could take to cover my bills, entrusted my then 4-year old daughter to her dad at night, and dove in to classes at Castleton.
I was 31-years old. The “old lady” in all my classes, but this actually was to my advantage, as I would find out.
It is said that age has its privileges. Perhaps this is true, but what I experienced as a “non-trad” was that age has its motivations. I couldn’t afford to fail, literally as I had a family to support.
Being so much older than my fellow students and having the experience of living hand-to-mouth in an entry-level job for so many years gave me a motivation that they all lacked. I strived for A’s in all my classes. Perfection was my pursuit. If I got a B on a paper, I asked permission to revise and resubmit. I had performed poorly in college in “my previous life” and I was determined to overcome my failures.
I didn’t do it alone, however. I have to thank those Castleton professors who allowed me to rewrite and rewrite again until I got it just right — who weren’t bothered at all when I came the second or third time that week during office hours with my many questions.
And they were patient and understanding in other ways too, like when my daughter was sick or when I had to cover another shift perhaps and miss a class. It was through their support and understanding that I graduated.
My story is not unlike so many stories at Castleton. It truly is the small college with the big heart. The staff, faculty, everyone contribute to the warmth and fellowship of the college. That’s why when I saw an advertisement for a position at Castleton after I graduated, I applied for the position and was determined to come back. Thankfully, the search committee agreed that this was the right place for me.
Almost three years later, I am still at Castleton directing the Upward Bound program, and helping to spread my enthusiasm for a college education to potentially first-generation and/or low-income high school students from around Rutland County.
It is the most amazing work I have ever done and I am thankful for the opportunity, an opportunity I would have missed had I not taken that leap of faith in Castleton just a few years ago.