Katherine Wehr: “I was a much better student as an adult”
By Excelsior Life News Staff—
Katherine Wehr entered her early professional life confident of earning a decent living without a college degree – and she did. She worked first in catering sales and then as an administrator for a high-tech company. But with passing time, her desire for higher education and a career with senior citizens began to take hold. With her husband cheering her on and her young children settled in elementary school, she enrolled in Howard Community College, a short drive from her home.
As she progressed toward an associate degree she realized that, in order to complete a bachelor’s degree at a traditional college she’d have to drive two hours round-trip to Baltimore each day. Her schedule would be entirely incompatible with her children’s school routines and other activities.
“I just loved going to school, and really wanted to finish my bachelor’s degree,” said Wehr. “Then my advisor at HCC asked me what I wanted to do, and I said ‘gerontology.’ She suggested I consider Excelsior.” She completed her prerequisites at HCC, and those credits easily transferred to Excelsior through an articulation agreement between the two colleges.
In 2009, Katherine enrolled in Excelsior’s to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Health Science, with an emphasis in Gerontology. She was met with unusual flexibility in Excelsior’s online classes, which ranged from Death, Dying and Bereavement to Social Policy and Aging; Health Care Issues in a Culturally Diverse Population and Health Care Informatics. And in her classes she met working adults just like herself.
Her Excelsior schedule required strong discipline, but she was able to stay active with her children’s daily activities and eventually took a flexible job with an elder services organization. Networking at a conference in 2011, she met a professional woman who said, “When you get your degree, call me.”
Katherine completed her Excelsior coursework with honors in October 2011, called her conference acquaintance and soon landed an administrative, outreach and case management position for Being There Senior Care. She is now at work in growth field – elder care -- as more Americans age and seek home-based care and other services.
Since 2001, Katherine and her two daughters have tended to their studies as a team. “It really benefitted my kids, seeing me studying each day. Now they are very good students,” she said.
“I was a much better student as an adult,” she noted, reflecting back her “average” pre-college performance. “And as an older graduate, I feel that I bring a tremendous amount of life experience and compassion to my job, since I have dealt with so many issues in life.”