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Karen Paulino’s story

“A college education is something many people dream about, but when the last time you were a student was over two decades ago, the concept of going back to school can be daunting, and even more so as a fairly new citizen who was not quite familiar with the educational dynamics of a different country. I have been living in Thomasville for about five years now, but I am originally from the beautiful little jewel of Belize. As an only child of a single mother, it was extremely difficult to leave her and everything I was used to, but it was a decision I had to make.
In the fall of 2010, with the constant encouragement and unwavering support of my husband, who is also a Valdosta State University alumnus, I finally made the decision to go back to school. VSU was the obvious choice for me for several reasons. One, my husband did both his undergrad and graduate studies here and spoke highly of the university and its professors. Second, I visited the institution a couple of times with him and even though it seemed huge, he informed me that it was one of the smaller universities and one where I would feel comfortable. Third, it had the most affordable rates in the region, and finally, offered several online degree programs which sealed the deal for me when I realized that I could go to school and keep my job.
Still, it was not without a great deal of apprehension that I decided to pursue this dream. I knew the challenges would be many. Not only was I nervous about the amount of work it would entail and the expenses that would be incurred, but I had a full-time job as a migrant education student services provider and lived 50 miles away from the university campus. The biggest advantage of taking online courses is the convenience it affords of studying at your own pace, but at the same time, it takes quite a bit of self-discipline, motivation, and organization to be successful.
I enrolled in the Adult and Career Education Department with a major in Office Administration and Technology. The program is rigorous, with all the demands and requirements like any other major, but I had a diligent advisor, Dr. Vesta Whisler, who was very instrumental in helping me to be successful. As a professor, she also has an impeccable record for speedy responses and feedback on papers and assignments submitted. The professors in the ACED department were always very helpful and ready to respond to any concerns and questions I had. They were strict, as they should be about deadlines, but they also understood the intricacies of distant learning. I can recall a few times when I felt like giving up, especially during an unexpected family health crisis which occurred with my mom in 2011. It was a struggle emotionally and financially, but I persevered. College is challenging but it is also rewarding and depending on the skills and knowledge acquired, the possibilities thereafter are endless.
Overall, my experiences at VSU were great, hence the reason I want to continue my studies here. As soon as I can identify some financial assistance or a scholarship, I am ready to pursue a Master Degree in Adult and Career Education at my alma mater.”

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