My life now has a purpose that is greater than I had ever imagined.
Priscilla Hartung, of Dallas, TX, graduated from high school in the 1960s and attended a year of college before getting married and moving to San Francisco. “At the age of 19, I worked as a Spanish-English translator while my husband prepared for Vietnam.” When they started a family two years later, Priscilla decided to stay home with the children. Unfortunately, as Priscilla puts it, “Life has a habit of getting in the way. I found myself divorced with two school-aged children to support and wishing I had completed my college degree years ago.”Determined and persistent, Priscilla found work in telecommunications. “High tech (or so we thought at the time) ‘skinny wire’ telephone systems were new to everyone, and the owner of the company decided to take a chance on an inexperienced housewife. That day marked the beginning of what became a very successful twenty-year career.”
When her children were grown and her granddaughter was in high school, Priscilla began to think about her goal of earning a college education. “But at the age of 63, I felt somewhat intimidated by the thought of attending classes on campus with students close to my granddaughter’s age.” Priscilla began looking at other options and found Ashford University. “The flexibility offered by an online program put an end to my excuses for not following through with my life-long dream.”
Once enrolled, Priscilla found a new set of challenges – her eyesight, which had always been a struggle, was making it almost impossible to complete her coursework. “I feared I would not be able to finish my degree. In the least, I felt my 4.0 grade point average would no longer be obtainable.” When Priscilla shared this with her professor, he referred her to the Office of Student Access and Wellness.
Priscilla soon heard from a wellness representative, who gave her access to a special portal for visually impaired students. “The portal allows us to read our textbooks as e-readers. We can enlarge the print and use colored backgrounds to improve our reading ability. If necessary, we can apply the audio enhancement. I used the audio assistance when my vision became so blurry that I could no longer read the enlarged print.”
With the help of Ashford’s Student Access and Wellness team and her own determination, Priscilla finished her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, and was able to maintain a 4.0 grade point average. “At the age of 65, I walked across the stage in Clinton, Iowa, with my granddaughter in the audience. She told me that she was inspired with everything she saw on campus and heard at the graduation ceremony. She added that she is proud of her grandmother and now, more than ever, wants to finish college.”
Barely two months after graduation, Priscilla made the decision to pursue her Master of Business Administration so that she can one day teach college in the online environment. She has now graduated with her second degree. “I fell in love with online learning,” Priscilla explains. “Technological advancements have not only created spring boards for educational opportunities for students of all ages, but they have also provided special assistance for students with disabilities, who, like me, might not graduate without enhanced visual aids. My life now has a purpose that is greater than I had ever imagined.”