Kathy Charles Accelerated Learning

Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor's adult accelerated learning team has had some changes this past spring.

Accelerated learning: She was in your shoes!

After serving 18 years as a full-time accelerated admissions counselor, Kathy Charles, has retired – well, sort of. You’ll still see her around as she continues to handle the accelerated Nursing as a Second-Degree program and special projects for Concordia. Aside from a well-deserved retirement, Kathy’s story is one for all adult accelerated students to hear. It’s a story of confidence in one’s self, even when there may not always be evidence to support it.

Kathy Charles Accelerated Learning

Starting her journey

In the late sixties, Kathy finished her high-school career as a state champion baton twirler and instructor. She then headed off to college to become an English teacher. Her youth got the best of her, though, and she left college after her first semester, thinking she could make do without a degree. The next 30 years included marriage, raising five children, and helping her husband with his sign and display business. Then money and finances got tight.  Kathy’s family needed her to contribute to the household income. Even though she had been on education committees, started a neighborhood association, and was involved with countless community organizations, she heard the same input. Kathy told us, “when I sought to get paid for my skills, I was continually told I needed to have a bachelor’s degree.”

Going back to school

For a while, Kathy thought going back to school was not going to be financially feasible. When completing the FAFSA for her own children, she realized that she was also eligible for the same Federal Pell Grants they were receiving. Kathy headed back to college at the age of 50, although feeling a little apprehensive about her age. She soon found she wasn’t the only adult learner in her classes. She became dedicated to her classes. One challenge was sharing one household computer. However, she made it work by waking early to get her work for classes completed. Kathy had belief and confidence in herself, even when the odds seemed a bit overwhelming.

Finding her career

Kathy aggressively earned her degree after three years of commitment. With a diploma in hand, she went job-hunting. After facing a few dead ends, Kathy was led to a new opportunity that would impact her life for the next twenty years.

“I saw an ad in the newspaper classifieds (this was twenty years ago!). An Admissions Advisor was needed for Concordia’s Green Bay Center working with adults returning to school” Kathy stated. “The requirements were a bachelor’s degree and a strong sales background. I thought to myself who better to assist adults returning to school than someone who had just done the same. Having made cold calls for my husband’s business, I figured I had a well-honed sales background.”

Kathy found a way to make good use of not only her education but also her previous experiences collected through her role as a mother. At Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor she has had a tremendous impact on the growth and improvement of the adult accelerated programs. She petitioned for the recruitment of younger graduates of technical colleges throughout Wisconsin. She also spearheaded much of the outreach and connection that is now established between the university and the military community. Kathy’s decision to return to school benefited her family, herself, and also the future of CUWAA’s growing accelerated population.

Kathy’s advice

Kathy Charles is a wonderful inspiration for current students or those who are considering a return to college. She sums up her career with Concordia by stating, “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time assisting students who, like me, maybe did not go to college right out of high school and were pursuing their degree later in life. I know having done so was one of the best things I did for my future. It is satisfying to know that I had some small part in assisting others on that same path.”

Completing a degree in the accelerated program takes patience and persistence, but those are not the only vital qualities needed. To be successful, having confidence in oneself goes a long way.

Ready to go back to school?

To learn more about the accelerated degrees and programs offered for busy adults, visit CUWAA Accelerated Admissions or request more information.

— Maddie Schueller is the Content Marketing Lead for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. In her free time, she enjoys listening to podcasts, anything music-related, and hanging out with her husband and daughter.

If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.