Inspiration comes by degrees

Adult students’ motivation and determination set the example

There’s no lounging in dorm rooms, partying instead of studying or goofing around on Google.

These are serious economic times and they call for serious studies.

Many Caymanians are returning to school as adults, juggling tough course work toward a degree, a full-time job and, in many cases, a family.

“I realised that everything was taking a turn for the worse and the only way to move up the ladder in my work field is to have a degree,” said Lastenia Tibbetts, a property accountant at the Grand Caymanian who decided to return to school in 2009 to earn her bachelor’s degree in accounting.

She anticipates receiving her degree next fall from the International College of the Cayman Islands, a longtime institution on-Island and well-regarded in tertiary education circles for its international accreditation.

Ms Tibbetts’ timetable has been extended somewhat, as she has two children – a 10-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter. “I need time to focus on the children,” she said, adding, “It’s difficult [to juggle everything] but I do have good support from my family.”

The children’s father is also enrolled at the International College, where he recently earned his associate’s degree.

Ms Tibbetts also credits support from her closest friends who encourage her “and they always say, ‘You can do it.’”

This quarter, Ms Tibbetts is taking two courses, which will mean being in class two nights a week from 5.30-10pm and basically, not seeing her kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“But the kids understand,” she said. “I talk to them and always tell them they have to do very well in school, just building that into them so they know when they finish, they need a degree when they get out into the working world.

“I’m just trying to be a good role model, not just to the kids but to my younger siblings, too. One is just entering high school and one just graduated from high school.”

Keeping it all in the family, her brother and cousin also attend the International College, and they help each other with classes one or the other has already taken and they study together, too.

“It works out a lot easier that way.” she said.

Having the right mindset

For Kadian Smith Taylor, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in international finance while working at Cayman National, “it’s been challenging, but I believe it’s the right mindset to get you through.”

The mother of two sons ages five and two, whose extended family is overseas, Ms Taylor says she has done very little outside of work and school other than to spend time with her children. She started college in 2007 and took a year off to have her second child.

Now she can see the light at the end of the tunnel as she gets closer to graduation.

“It’s a beautiful light, too,” she adds.

“I would definitely recommend it [pursuing a degree at the International College]…if you don’t have something in your life externally, you have to look internally and say, ‘How can I get better – on a professional level, but also on a personal level.’ Find a wholeness within yourself.”

Geared toward adult students

Since its inception, the International College has been marketed to more mature working students.

“It is vital that working adults, especially those who are raising families, have an option to obtain a college or university education on Island without having to go overseas,” said college president John Cummings. “Particularly in an economic downturn where obtaining an college education becomes even more important to stay competitive in the work force.

“Our students are more mature, more dedicated and more willing to sacrifice to get it done,” he said.

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