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Non-Traditional Student Faces Challenges, Finds New Path

Laura Jane Reeves

Earning a college degree takes resources, sacrifices, dedication and time. For non-traditional college students, the decision to pursue a college degree can be made more difficult due to varying factors including finances, lack of flexibility at work, and family responsibilities. Laura “Jane” Reeves understands these challenges, and overcoming them. Jane is a 46-year-old mother of three and is completing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business with a Global Supply Chain Management concentration at Eastern Kentucky University.  

“Being a truck driver was my passion. I was able to travel across the country,” said Reeves. However, after many years as a driver, she eventually left the position for factory jobs in order to have more time to advocate for her daughter Reva, who is autistic. After multiple years of repetitive movement on the assembly line at the Toyota plant, Jane suffered a knee injury and was unable to do manual labor.

“I needed to go in a new direction to earn new training and education,” explained Reeves. The skills that she had once learned and used in high labor jobs were no longer possible due to her injury. She heard about the Ready to Work Program through the Ashland Community and Technical College which provided her the resources to pursue a college degree. Jane recently received two degrees from Ashland Community and Technical College, an Associates in General Studies as well as an Associates in Applied Science in Business.

With the two associate degrees in hand, Jane proceeded to continue even further with her education and came to Eastern Kentucky University. She was able to work with the EKU Center for Student Parents in order to attend EKU. Jane remarked about the Center for Student Parents, “They place you at a job and help you in any way to make a degree possible. They provide business clothes, tutoring, anything you could need. If it weren’t for that I wouldn’t be here today.”

She applied for many scholarships and was awarded multiple, including a transfer scholarship as well as one for the honors program. “Apply for every scholarship you can,” suggested Reeves, “Apply, apply, apply. Even if you get denied for one, try for another.”

Some of the courses at EKU that Jane has enjoyed the most are Logistics, Operations Management, and International Business. “The business classes, without a doubt, like Logistics and International Business will help me in the future,” Jane shared. The honors program has also given her the opportunity to take courses that she never would have dreamed of taking, including ‘Shaking up Shakespeare’ as well as a course about modern cinema.

Jane has found support within the College of Business and Technology through Professor James Kirby Easterling. She said that he has been very supportive of her during her time at EKU, making himself available through office hours and appointments with Jane as necessary, as well as helping her with course advisement.  

Along with taking classes, Jane has been an intern for the City of Ashland since summer 2019 and will continue to do so throughout the fall semester. She has been working in Human Resources for the city as an administrative assistant. In addition to clerical duties, she has had the opportunity to learn about risk management, liability, liquor licensing, bus routes, and benefits. She has also gained knowledge about the government side of business, “I have truly learned so much,” she said. Her internship is funded through the Center for Student Parents at EKU, where she also works multiple days a week in the office. Jane shared that working on campus is very beneficial for her because she is able to work around her class schedule and it gives her an opportunity to gain more job experience.

When asked the advice that she would give to other non-traditional students pursuing degrees, she said, “Don’t be afraid to do it. People think that they are too old or that they have missed their calling. No, they haven’t, you just have to want it badly enough. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I wouldn’t have stopped and asked for help.”

Jane will graduate from Eastern Kentucky University in December of 2020 with the BBA.

Written by Christina Dunavan, Student Writer

Published on September 10, 2019

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