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Jackie Walston, Paralegal Student

“AACC is such an incredible experience; don’t be afraid of change!”

Jackie’s been nervous about getting laid off for a long time.  Even before 9/11, conditions for airline employees were uneasy; after 9/11 people with decades of experience lost their jobs.  Anticipating that she might lose her job, too, Jackie decided to do something about it.

She’d graduated from AACC 19 years ago with an associate’s in business administration and transferred to the University of Baltimore for her baccalaureate degree.  She remembered the community college fondly but said she never really appreciated the wonderful experience she had here.

“When you’re young, you’re concerned about going to work and just trying to finish your education.”

Jackie started to work for USAir while she attended AACC and it’s there that she met her husband.  She eventually started a family but continued to work for the airline part time. It was a good income, but she suffered through three major lay-offs and was narrowly spared from losing her job each time.  It was nerve-wracking and provided her with the impetus she needed to go back to school for more education for a different career.  She had an idea about enrolling in the paralegal program and after she talked to Professor Kelly Koermer, there was no doubt in her mind that it was a good decision.

“I was so petrified about returning back to school, but once I got started I realized that there are so many older students.  The teachers are incredible.  I have a much greater appreciation for my teachers than I did before.  I think it comes with age.”

Jackie is really excited about starting an internship this spring term.  It will provide her with the experience that she needs to get a good job in the field. She realizes, too, that she could never have pursued this goal without the support of her family. As most adults realize when they return to school, it’s an incredible balancing act to continue to be a supportive mom for your kids and get the grades you strive to achieve.

“Once when I brought home a ‘87’ on an exam, I was telling my kids how disappointing getting that grade was to me and they both told me not to worry—as long as I tried my hardest it was ok to get a ‘B’.”

Jackie has really enjoyed her experience at AACC and would love to take a lot more classes that are of interest to her.  She hopes that she’s served as a role model for her children and that they too, will enjoy the incredible experience of learning.