Clark College students Kathrynn Gonzalez and Jennifer Campbell were recently honored as members of the 2013 All-Washington Academic Team. But that’s not all they have in common: They both offer inspiration for women who deferred their own educational goals in order to take care of their families.
Gonzalez, 36, says she got good grades in high school but “had little direction at that age on where to go for the next step in my life.” She married soon after graduating in 1995 and found herself, as she puts it, “attending to chores rather than attending to an education.”
By the time Gonzalez decided to enroll at Clark in 2010, she had divorced her first husband, remarried, and was taking care of her three sons, two of whom have autism. The Battle Ground resident chose Clark because its online classes offered her the flexibility to keep her full-time job and study from home while caring for her children during the evenings, and because the reasonable tuition fit into her family’s already tight finances.
As a little girl, Jennifer Campbell dreamed of becoming a nurse. But her husband, whom she married shortly after graduating from high school, had a career that required them to move frequently, making it impossible for Campbell to stay in college long enough to earn a degree. She instead devoted herself to her marriage, but when her husband died in 2009, part of the healing process for her involved developing a newfound sense of independence—and that in turn led to her deciding that the time had finally come for her to pursue the education she had put aside for so many years.
Both Gonzalez and Campbell have thrived at Clark. The students who make up the All-Washington Academic Team are academic high achievers who have demonstrated a commitment to success in the classroom and in the communities in which they live. Only two students from each of Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges are selected for this honor; they are chosen from members of each college’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year colleges.
“I couldn’t think of two students more qualified than Jennifer and Kathrynn to be selected to represent Clark College as part of the All-Washington Academic Team,” said Clark College Advising Divisional Manager Melissa Sinclair, who serves as advisor to Clark’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. “They are prime examples of what this honor society is all about, fully embracing and integrating the four hallmarks of Phi Theta Kappa—scholarship, leadership, service, and fellowship—into their academic experience both inside and outside of the classroom here at Clark College.”
Team members are eligible for multiple scholarships from colleges, universities, local businesses and the Clark College Foundation. They were recognized at a ceremony in Olympia on March 21.
Over the past 40 years, women’s rates of attaining college education have risen steadily; today, more than a third of all American women earn a bachelor’s degree or higher. But for those women who defer their own educational goals, the price can be painfully high; a recent study showed that a woman with a high school diploma makes on average $822,000 less over the course of her lifetime than a woman with a
Both Gonzalez and Campbell plan to pursue bachelor’s degrees after graduating from Clark this June—Gonzalez in computer science and Campbell in human resources. Both students say that Clark has changed their lives in unexpected ways, providing them new insights into the world and into themselves.
“I am overwhelmed and continually blessed by my college experience,” says Gonzalez. “There’s not enough I can say.”