Kerin G. GoeckeI began college right after high school, but dropped out after one semester due to financial pressures and my parents' move out-of-state. While college was a "must" for my brothers, it was never a priority for the girls, and finding a job and/or a husband was the expectation. So following that road map, I found a "good" job and a great husband, but did not return to college. However, after many years of work and caring for my three kids, I decided to once again pursue a degree that I needed in order to advance in my career, wondering why in the world I hadn't finished years ago! So with kids still at home, and while working full-time, I returned to school. After much hard work (and very little sleep), I earned my Associates Degree (Business emphasis) and in 2013 graduated co-valedictorian from Susquehanna University with a B.S. in Corporate Communications and a minor in Human Resources. Thus, I became the first female in my family tree to obtain a college degree.

I found that returning to the classroom as a non-traditional student was exhilarating (if exhausting), and I developed many good relationships with other students and professors. My life experiences were a great benefit to me in my studies, and I was able to put into practice much of my learning right away in my professional and volunteer work.

One thing I learned throughout the college process was that you have to be your own advocate! I stayed on top of my degree plan and worked to help change the rules so that the minor I wanted could be approved to accompany my chosen major, eliminating an archaic rule that the department faculty didn't even realize existed. By putting into practice my newly-learned negotiation skills, I not only helped myself, but also helped to open up new avenues of learning for countless others allowing for increased enrollment in the department at the same time.

Now that our youngest daughter is heading to college herself, I'm looking forward to pursuing a master's degree. Most of all, I am pleased that the next generation of my family has realized the value of an education and is continuing the college tradition, with not only our son, but also our daughters, earning or pursuing their college degree. I am confident that this tradition will continue on for generations to come!