Spring 2010 Stories
Returning Adult Students: Managing Your Reinvention
By Neil Twilla
If you were your own product, how would you go about the task of ensuring market share for yourself? Invariably products tend to lose luster, appeal and market share the longer they are in the market. Companies often assemble special teams and leverage the resources of many departments to reinvent and reintroduce a product. Is the need to attend to your product any different?
Evergreen is full of students busy conceptualizing and shaping the product they will be. In the case of many returning adult students enrolled in Evening and Weekend Studies (EWS), they are managing their own reinventions.
Two such technicians are Heather Poore and Peter Ramey. Both are attending EWS and busy building the “value added” skills which will differentiate them in this extremely competitive job market. There are as many different reasons for returning to school as there are students doing it. However, one common thread woven through the efforts of most every Evergreen student is the recognition that they have put their finger on what they are passionate about.
Poore, 29, worked in retail and cosmetology for many years, and became uninspired. Choosing to attend Evergreen was convenient and, more importantly, an opportunity to reignite a dormant passion. “I have always wanted to teach elementary school,” says Poore, a sophomore. “I love working with children.”
Before coming to Evergreen, she took some classes from an online university, but found the experience unsatisfying. “I did really well, but I was missing out on that face-to-face time with fellow students and the sense of community,” explains Poore, who plans to apply to Evergreen’s Master in Teaching program after earning her bachelor of arts degree. “I like the approach that Evergreen takes as far as putting more of an emphasis on doing quality work rather than what letter grades you might be getting from it. I am a lot less stressed now.”
When Peter Ramey, 45, a junior, first came to Evergreen, he was in a hurry to get done. What he found, however, was an atmosphere that nurtured an individualized learning experience that pleasantly surprised him. “Classes keep you engaged, and I really enjoy the opportunities for discourse with other students and faculty,” he explains. Ramey decided to return to college after being laid off from a job selling architectural coatings. He saw this as an opportunity for him to break from an industry he had worked in for 20 years. “I was totally burnt out,” he says.
Ramey took stock of his strengths and realized what excited him was the intersection of politics and law. Preserving and defending the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution is what really interests him. Earning his bachelor of arts degree from Evergreen is his first step toward a law degree.
Attending to the work of our lives is akin to product management. We are all responsible for our own development and marketability. The world is a competitive place. What makes Evergreen different is the holistic, collaborative approach to academics. In such an atmosphere, it’s easy to see your fellow students and faculty as the project team that will help you jumpstart your product – you.
Neil Twilla is a returning student in his junior year focusing on environmental studies.