Adult College Student Learns to Stand on Her Own Two Feet
Kirsten Denton is in many ways a typical nontraditional adult college student, one who put her education on hold for other pursuits. While she began college right out of high school, her life took a different path when she decided to enlist in the U.S. Army, become a military spouse and start a family. Years later, however, she found herself in the difficult position of trying to earn a livable wage after having spent so much time away from the workforce.
At 54 years old, an age where many people begin to contemplate retirement, Kirsten needed to figure out a new career to support herself.
Carroll Community College has created a great pathway for someone who’s working full time to get an education. My dreams of being self-sufficient will become a reality, and I will once again be able to stand on my own two feet.
Repositioning Her Priorities
After her time in the Army, Kirsten was a stay-at-home mother for fourteen years, and then worked as an hourly employee for Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS). “I chose to stay close to home should my children need me,” she explained. “With my family and their welfare as my priority, I was content with my relatively low pay and my lifestyle as a wife and mother first, an employee second.”
“My time in the military shaped me as a person, and my life as a wife and mother polished me,” Kirsten said. But when her marriage ended a year ago, she found herself struggling to make ends meet. She realized she had to reinvent herself, or rather, reposition herself onto the path not taken.
“I am currently a media clerk at a high school,” Kirsten shared. “I really love the job, but there’s little to no room for advancement.” She knew she needed to step up her skills to give herself a better job outlook.
Finding Her Future
Kirsten saw a brighter future for herself in the lucrative computer technology field. But having to support herself by working her full-time job as well as a part-time job doing ghost tours in Gettysburg, leaving her with very little free time to pursue an education, she did not have the luxury of being a full-time student.
Thankfully, Carroll Community College’s flexible class schedules enabled this adult college student to pursue a degree in Computer Information Systems (CIS).
“When I decided I needed to change my career, I immediately went to Carroll’s website to see what was available,” Kirsten explained. “Two of my children had attended Carroll, and I knew it would give me a quality education without breaking the bank.”
Kirsten also received a scholarship from the Carroll County Women’s Conference, which made it possible for her to take double the number of classes she could initially afford. “I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity provided to me by such a wonderful organization,” she said. “I had the honor of being invited to participate in the most recent Conference, and I found it to be a welcoming, informative and uplifting environment.”
With an Associate’s degree from Carroll, followed by a transfer to a 4-year college for her Bachelor’s degree, Kirsten expects her acquired knowledge and industry certifications will make her more desirable to employers in the technology field.
“My plans, with the help of a degree in CIS from Carroll Community College, are to make the move into Technology Services within CCPS,” Kirsten explained. “From there, my opportunities in the computer field are endless.”
Identifying Her Inspiration
Despite juggling two jobs, Kirsten knew education was the key to her independence, and has thus made it a priority. Her mother, a single mom in her late 20s, proved to be an excellent role model for her. “After her divorce, [my mother] attended community college during the day and worked evenings, all while making sure her children were cared for,” Kirsten explained. “I try to emulate her in my everyday life, and I hope that my endeavors in school and in my future career will live up to her example.”
Like her mother, Kirsten never expected to be in this challenging position at this point of her life. “Once I am out of it,” she asserted, “I will do what I can to help others in similar circumstances.”
Truly, Kirsten Denton’s journey is a testament to the indomitable spirit that courses through other adult college students who refuse to be defined by circumstance.
“Carroll Community College has created a great pathway for someone who’s working full time to get an education,” Kirsten said. “My dreams of being self-sufficient will become a reality, and I will once again be able to stand on my own two feet.”