A“nontraditional” Dragon graduate

by Carrie Thayer
thayerca@mnstate.edu

In a few short weeks I will be joining my fellow graduates on stage to receive my bachelor’s degree. And a few months after that, I will be stepping into my high school’s gymnasium to celebrate my 10-year class reunion.
You see, I’m what they like to call a non-traditional student.
Being the oldest student in the room has been strange sometimes—I’ll never forget the time people were talking about what they remembered from 9/11 and how everyone went silent when I let it slip that I was in my high school math class—but it has also had it’s advantages.
When I graduated from high school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. So, I got an office job. It wasn’t the worst, but it certainly wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I decided at 23 to go after my degree.
One thing I know from working in that office environment, is how difficult it can be to take a vacation when you’re in the workforce, so I feel like I can better appreciate my opportunities to travel.
During my time at MSUM I was able to participate in its amazing Eurospring program. Honestly, it’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made. Not only was I able to study at Oxford, but also travel across the continent of Europe. I’ve seen Big Ben, walked to the top of the Notre Dame and regretted going to the worst zoo in the world (I’m looking at you, Vienna). All of that would have been next to impossible to accomplish if I hadn’t been in school.
While I was in high school, I mostly stuck to the people in my own class or older. Because, honestly, I didn’t think younger people had anything to offer to me, but now I have a wide array of friends from all over the age spectrum. It’s still kind of shocking, but I can’t even begin to tell you how many life lessons I’ve received from my younger friends.
A lot of my friends are at completely different stages in their lives, but it’s so great to see them all growing and accomplishing their different goals.
When I think about my late start, I realize I might have missed out on some of those freshman experiences, but I wouldn’t change the path that I ended up taking. Taking those years out of the educational system is what worked for me. It gave me the perspective I needed to accomplish what I set out to do.
It’s important to keep pushing yourself, to keep learning, regardless if you’re 18, 23 or 56.
It’s okay to be less than traditional.

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