Non-traditional students share stories of second chances, hope

Published in the February 8, 2017 issue of The Bells

What do a 37-year-old single mom and a 61-year-old grandmother have in common? They are both non-traditional students at the university. Whether they’re former military or just having a second act, non-traditional students ages 25 and above make-up 22.5 percent of the university population.

Junior Elena Aydelotte is a single mother of three working towards a public relations degree. When Aydelotte had children, she still had a dream to go to school, so she made a deal with her husband. She would stay home with the children until the youngest started school and then she could attend college. Before this deal could come to fruition, Aydelotte’s marriage sadly ended. So, she packed up her family, and moved back to Temple from North Carolina. As Aydelotte explored her next steps, she realized she had two options: go to work or attend college. The young mother decided she would explore her college options.

With her best friend by her side, she walked into the UMHB admissions office for some advice.

“I walked in and they’re like arms wide-open, ‘Welcome to UMHB,’ and I was like, ‘I just need an application. I don’t know if I can even afford to go here.’”

She began a conversation with one of the admissions counselors and discovered that the counselor’s mother had gone back to school when she was a single mother,
and eventually earned her degree.

“By the time I walked out of that office, we were hugging, crying, and they were welcoming me to UMHB. I walked away with a neon billboard light going off in my mind saying ‘this is where you need to be.’”

Aydelotte wants single moms to know that their story isn’t over because of the grace of God. She encourages them to reach for their dreams, no matter the hardships they’re faced with. She said He [God] has a message for other single moms too.

“The dream He’s placed in their hearts is still valid. It’s not void, and they can accomplish it.”

Aydelotte loves UMHB because she can openly profess her faith and learn at the same time.

“The university was founded by women of faith, and all their traditions continue on, and I’m honored to be a Crusader.”

Aydelotte has busy days between going to school, taking care of her family, getting homework and housework done, attending church, and somehow enjoying a social life as well. She firmly believes that having a relationship with God is how she gets through the day.

“He gives me the extra grace and energy to do it,” she said. “Spending quiet time with God isn’t a luxury-it’s vital. I’m up at five in the morning and in bed by 11, and He just refreshes me.”

Another non-traditional student at the university is junior business management major Corine Hardy. Like Aydelotte, Hardy is also a single mom. However, her children are already grown and have kids of their own. Like Aydelotte, Hardy left school to take care of her children, but she decided to return once her children were grown.

“I was a single mom, and after raising my two daughters, and helping them raise eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, I said, ‘well, let
me do something for myself.’ So, I decided to continue my education.”

After earning her associates degree from Temple College, Hardy decided to attend UMHB because of a recommendation from her pastor.

“I conferred with my pastor and his wife who both attended here way back in the day when it wasn’t even co-ed, and they both recommended it very highly.”

Hardy says that technology has changed significantly since she stopped taking college classes to take care of her children more than 20 years ago.

“When I went to school we didn’t have computers and all this modern stuff. We didn’t have texting. We didn’t have any of that,” she said. “I’m still learning. There’s a lot about the computer and technology that I don’t know. I just learned how to text this year, believe it or not.”

Hardy says that sometimes she forgets that she is older than almost everyone in her classes, until they are using computers together. She likes how the other students don’t treat her any different than the other students. Hardy not only attends school, but she works a graveyard shift at 7-11.

“You do what you have to do. It’s a sacrifice. You have to for school.”

Hardy’s advice for non-traditional students is to do their very best.

“Put your best foot forward and don’t ever give up,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re 75-years-old and you decide to go back to school, don’t ever give up.”

Author: Lauren Lum

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