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Ellen Klimes, Business Management Student

“Life has its challenges and it’s how you cope with them that makes the difference.”

Ellen isn’t going to let a little thing like cancer stand in her way.  She’d always wanted to earn her college degree and after seeing her twin daughters all the way through to their master’s degrees, decided it was “time for Mom.”

To begin this journey she enrolled in the Business Support Specialist program at GBTC.  It’s a very intensive 18-credit curriculum that one completes in a year with a cohort group. The students get to know each other extremely well and provide support to each other to get through the program.  In Ellen’s case it was support she needed because she worked full time and support she needed when she found out that her mammogram indicated she had a malignancy. Ellen went through surgery and follow-up treatment while still enrolled in school, barely skipping a beat.  There were days that she felt perfectly awful but she was very determined to beat the cancer and stay on-track.

“Half of the battle is maintaining a positive outlook,” she says.  Ellen had a previous bout with cancer ten years prior to the second discovery.  The first time she went to her gynocologist with a suspicious bump but her doctor brushed it off.  Her intuition warned her not to be so dissuaded so she went to her family doctor who verified her suspicions.  After ten years of clean check-ups, the second report of cancer was a shock.  She is adamant in her warning to women.  “Follow-up on your intuition.  If you think something is wrong, follow up on it.”

Cancer doesn’t define who Ellen is.  It’s just a bump in the road.  She is still going to school and working full-time.  Recently, the advisor to the Business Support Specialist program called her and told her about an opportunity to serve as the student representative to the AACC Board of Trustees.  Ellen considered the invitation to apply as quite an honor and interviewed for the position. Her strong supportive feelings for the college and her thorough enjoyment of all her classes are apparent to all who talk to her about the college. She liked to be able to express her opinions about keeping up with technology in the classroom but felt the job really needed to go to a full-time student. 

Ellen isn’t quite sure what the next step is for her.  She thinks about transferring for her bachelor’s degree, but right now she’s just thrilled to be here!