Ashley Webb has been working on her
English degree since she graduated from
high school. From 2002 through 2012
she has attended three different schools,
including IU Southeast. She decided to
stay here because IU Southeast has been
the most helpful in providing direction. She
also notes that, as an adult student, her
maturity level has reached a point where it
will help with her classes more than when
she was younger. “I know how to make the
best use of my study time now,” she said.
Not only have her time management skills
been sharpened but her empathy as well.
She says she is more able to understand
what she reads for having spent time out in
the working world when she was a full-time
manager of a hair salon. Rereading Jane
Eyre as an adult has made her grateful
for her position as a woman in modern
society. “I was able to appreciate how Jane
continued her education to its fullest and
became a working woman.” While Jane
ended up marrying her boss, Webb knows
that not everyone’s life will work out the
same way. She wants to take her education
as far as she can and become a teacher.
She plans to graduate from IU Southeast in
May 2014.
Jeremy Mertz has a similar story. After
high school he enrolled at the University
of Louisville, unsure of what he wanted
to do. After taking a year of classes as an
undecided major, he still had no idea what
most interested him. He took some time off
and then accepted a full-time job at a news
station, where he is still employed. His next
stop was Sullivan University.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t afford the high
tuition so he dropped out and stayed
out for a long time to take a hard look at
himself and his calling. “I didn’t want to get
a degree to just get a degree; I wanted it to
be something that I would really use.” One
night at the news station he was listening
to commentaries about events in his
community and he had a flash of insight:
he needed to major in political science.
For years he had been talking politics and
following every piece of legislation that
came out of local offices. His passion for
following political issues directed him in
his choice of a major. That knowledge and
passion will help Mertz make valuable
contributions to class discussions, and may
even provide suitable topics for various
course assignments. Mertz is expected to
graduate in May 2015.
After her high school graduation, Greta
Smith planned to stay out of school for
a year since her scholarships would still
be available the next year. She moved to
California and took a job at the Saturn Café.
There she worked with a lot of people,
some of whom were college graduates,
some with doctorates. She quickly realized
that having a degree would mean little if
there was no direction behind it, leading
only to an unskilled service-sector job,
and like Webb and Mertz she did not know
what she wanted to do. So, she decided
to travel more and moved to Phoenix. In
Arizona she was employed at Heritage
Montessori, a school for children. While she
loved the job, she eventually came to miss
home and moved back to Louisville. Shortly
after that she met her boyfriend, who has a
son. The relationship became stronger, and
Smith now thinks of her boyfriend’s son as
her own. “Having a child really changed
the game,” she says. “I had to think about
him and that is what drove me to go after
a career.” She knew she loved working
with children, so she selected elementary
education as her major and will graduate
in May 2015. As an older student she notes
how much more confidence she has.
Speaking up in class does not pose a
problem for her. “I have gone through
enough to know it is okay not to know
everything, so I see being wrong only as a
learning experience,” she said.
Webb, Mertz, and Smith are three
wonderful examples of students who
have taken extra time to figure out their
individual purposes in life. They may be
graduating later than others their age, but
the events in their lives have propelled
them into an all-new peer group. While
many students benefit from moving
smoothly through college in four years or
fewer, these three students have shown
that their way of getting an education has
provided other things: life experience,
direction, and confidence. Had they
not followed an indirect path to higher
education, they might not be heading
toward such fulfilling futures.
His passion
for following
directed him
in his choice
of a major.
I have gone
enough to
know it is
okay not
to know
so I see being
wrong only
as a learning