I am a non-traditional student. I was very excited to be offered a spot in the KR 14 cohort. As a full time university employee, wife, and mother of 6, I felt a certain amount of trepidation as to whether or not I could handle this. I have always taken my education very seriously, but, there are only so many hours in the day. What I learned on the first day of orientation is that I am not alone. The Knowledge River scholars are a very diverse crowd of multi-generational people with big responsibilities outside of school, parents with families and jobs, and people who come from very far away to pursue their education.
Knowledge River is an extremely challenging program. It works for busy people like me because of the incredible support system fostered by the director, Gina Macaluso. Her positive and welcoming attitude sets the stage for how we will move together as a team and encourages us all to be there for one another. Throughout my courses, I have been able to reach out to members of my cohort for help with subject material I didn’t quite understand and for plain old commiseration on how we would ever get through the weeks when we were buried in work. We made it through fall semester, from my perspective, together.
Even with all the normal stressors of school, work and family, I had some unexpected extenuating circumstances put upon me during the fall that left me feeling as though I may not be able to continue. I thought, if I could just have my normal crazy life, I could manage, but, not this, too. It was too much at once and I was feeling as though I might have to quit school. Gina was there for me to offer options on how I could proceed, the faculty were agreeable to working with me, and my cohort was supportive and encouraging, too. It was not ideal for my first semester, but, I am almost through the thick of it and feel confident that I can continue now.
I am sure by this time next year, the focus of my experiences will be more of academic accomplishment and plans for the future. I can see a path before me full of opportunities to be encouraged out of my comfort zone to present at conferences, tackle internships, and do many things I may not think I can do. That is what the Knowledge River experience is doing for me right now.