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JCCC Stories

New horizons for a nontraditional student

September 2, 2018


After deciding to make a career shift, Debra Lind completed the associate degree she started 39 years ago.

In the words of Debra Lind, “It’s never, ever too late to go back to college.”

As a Johnson County Community College student, Lind speaks from experience. Following her high school graduation in 1979, she attended college for two years, then left to join the workforce and start a family.

“Through the years, I have worked with adults who have developmental disabilities. While rewarding, these jobs were very physical and I knew I needed to make a career shift,” said Lind. “I wanted to work in an office setting, which required upgrading my skills.”

In 2016, Lind decided it was time to return to higher education. Enter JCCC.

Overcoming obstacles 

Lind arrived on campus ready to pursue a certificate in JCCC’s Business Office Technology program. Little did she know her academic journey was just beginning. After visiting a counselor, Lind discovered she only needed to complete two classes – Business Mathematics and Introduction to Computer Concepts and Applications – to receive the associate degree she started 39 years before.

The only thing standing in her way was a strong aversion to math.

“From grade school up, I’ve had a math phobia, and it was one of the reasons I didn’t go on to get a degree earlier,” she said. “After speaking with my counselor, I decided I needed to start at the bottom and work my way up to achieve my goals.”

Lind approached the Academic Achievement Center for assistance. Before she knew it, she passed Basic Math Review and Fundamentals of Mathematics with A’s. And when she was ready to conquer Business Mathematics, she did so with flying colors.

“I’ve decided I enjoyed my time at JCCC so much that I’m going to pursue another certificate.” — Debra Lind

From the classroom to the office

JCCC is dedicated to helping students succeed from their first day on campus to their job hunt and beyond. When it came time for Lind to find work, she had the full support of her teachers.

Mary Hedberg, former Professor and Chair of the Business Office Technology program, saw Lind’s potential and recommended her for a customer service/dispatcher position at Lutz Plumbing. Lind attributes her success to the college courses she took, saying she couldn’t have competed with the other applicants without that edge.

Advice from a nontraditional student

If you’ve taken time away from the classroom or want to attend college for the first time, Lind has two pieces of advice:

  1. Don’t be afraid, no matter your age.
  2. Take advantage of the resources in place to help you, including flexible scheduling options.

“Returning to college later in life made me appreciate the experience and take it more seriously,” she said. “You just need to have faith in yourself and know that you can do it.”

It’s your turn!

Interested in returning to school? Follow Lind’s advice. Countless opportunities and experiences await you at JCCC. Simply take the first step and request information today.