Article courtesy of The Madison Courier
Non-traditonal student Danielle Harvey has taken an unconventional route as she pursues a degree at Ivy Tech. Danielle jokes that she could be a doctor by now. At the age of 30, Harvey has long been at work trying to get her degree from Ivy Tech Community College.
Now, after years of personal and financial setbacks, the mother of three has refocused and has some scholarship money to make her goal attainable. “It’s been a long, complicated process,” she said. After graduating from East Central High School in Rising Sun in 2003, Harvey took a year off before starting college courses. Her plans changed when she became pregnant and, with little thought, decided to drop out. Her decision left her with failing grades in all of the classes she had signed up for — something she’d end up paying for when she finally returned.
When she did return to school, Harvey was put on academic probation until her GPA reached a C average. The next blow to her momentum came when she had to miss a month of class due to an illness. And with that, she narrowly missed the C she needed to qualify for financial aid. Unfortunately, she couldn’t afford to take any courses without aid. “Oh, I wanted to give up,” she said. “I actually gave up for a couple of years.”
Eventually, she said she got tired of financial instability and found a part-time job at a gas station to start saving up to give school another go. Working around her husband’s work schedule to save money on childcare, she managed to get just enough to resume her education.
Harvey was fortunate enough to receive a $1,000 scholarship in August from the Centra Foundation that allowed her to quit her job to be a full-time student again. She said she was lucky to find a scholarship with no GPA restrictions or age limits — something that had become frustrating when starting over. “I want to do something better,” Harvey said of her drive to finish her education so that she can buy a house and live a better lifestyle.“I want to do more than survive. I want to be able to not live paycheck-to-paycheck.”
Now Harvey, who has made the dean’s list at Ivy Tech, is studying human services with a goal to finish by the end of 2016. She’d like to get into a career in child services or counseling. Although her situation may not be typical, Harvey said she’s found a way to balance home, family and school. She comes to campus when she needs to focus for a test, she reads ahead in her textbooks when the kids have gone to bed and she keeps a checklist to keep everything organized.
She’s even managed to find time to tutor fellow students, and hopefully instill some of her appreciation along the way. “They haven’t been there,” she said of her mostly younger peers. “Sometimes I see people doing the exact same things I did: skipping class, not doing work. ... And I just want to go up to them and tell them to stop because they’re going to regret it.”
And more importantly, she’s using this experience to serve her children. When they come to her with complaints about their school work, she can sympathize. She reminds them that they’re all going through the same thing and it’s necessary to work harder when something might not come easily. “They’ll thank me for it later.”
And while Harvey knows all too well that the things you want may not be easy, they’re worth it. In her experience, those who work harder to get where they want to be, do better. “If you really want it, if you absolutely really want it, you can. You’ll find a way.”