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A Personal Milestone in Higher Education

Nov 21, 2016, 04:25 AM by User Not Found
Reflections from 25 years in higher education from Amy Bennett, the executive director of Marian's Adult Programs.

By Amy Bennett | November 21, 2016

Amy Bennett at St. Francis ColonnadeI’ve worked in higher education for many years—longer than I’d care to admit, actually. I began as an admissions counselor at a small college in northern Indiana in 1991. You do the math. 

I was hired to work in their newly formed adult education department. At the time, I knew nothing about what it was like to be an adult going back to school to earn a business degree, since my own experience was as a traditional undergraduate student who lived on campus. I learned on the job by listening to the adult students as they spoke about the demands of juggling their families, jobs, and going back to school. I found that as a single working mother, I could really relate to their struggle to balance work, life, and school.

Their stories truly resonated with me. How could you not be touched when someone shares their private thoughts about what a college degree means to them? While the details of each story were different, there was a substantial thread of commonality in all of them. Each student searched for a brighter future for their family.

It’s now 2016, and I’m proud to say that I’ve worked for Marian University for over 15 years. As the director of Marian’s Adult Programs (MAP), directly or indirectly, I’ve been privileged to work with hundreds of adult students who wanted to improve their lives through education—some of who went on to totally change career paths.

The Saturday before Mother’s Day has long since become one of my favorite days of the academic year—commencement day at Marian University. Along with their proud family and friends, MAP faculty and staff come out to honor the graduates, and thank them for taking that initial leap of faith and entrusting us to achieve this educational milestone. 

Last month marked a personal milestone for me, as well—my 25th anniversary in higher education. As I reflect back, I feel fortunate to work with a great staff who really care about the adult students we serve.

Of course, there was no fanfare, but I did have a quiet celebratory glass of Chardonnay.

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