continuing series – discussions on completion and returning students

This month we are checking in with a few more of our returning students to find out what brought them back to education.

Tanja Schreivogel is no stranger to education. She completed a college degree in South Africa, but found the credits did not transfer. As such, she started over at age 28, receiving her LPN license from the Technical Center Osceola. She chose that program because it was a fast avenue to stable employment.

After taking a year off, she started attending Valencia. Her reasons are two-fold. First the simple truth, it costs less than UCF and all credits transfer. But she says there was another reason as well. “I started Valencia in 2009, right after the birth of my first child. Having a child changed my perspective on life and made me realize that I need stability and consistency in my life.”

Today she is an online student who is taking all her pre-requisites at Valencia before transferring to UCF to receive a master’s degree in health information technology. She says that scholarships, Pell Grants, price and online course availability are all important to completion at Valencia.

Amy Garland attended Indiana College for approximately three years, right after college graduation. She admits: “I wasn’t prepared to go to college. I went to school as a way to ‘get out of the house.’ Not knowing what I really wanted to go to school for kept me changing my major several times, pushing my graduation date further and further away.”

While in college, she met Daniel and they married in 2000 and decided to move to Florida shortly thereafter. She found that moving to Florida and being newly married necessitated her to work full time for financial support and the thought of going back to school was put on the back burner. The same was true after her daughter, Katelyn, was born – she still felt like she could not afford to return to school and pursue her education.

With the assistance of financial aid, she was able to return to school this semester. She says it is great that her daughter is now in 2nd grade and understands that “mommy is attending school just like her!” She is studying to get her AA in general studies with a secondary AS in hospitality and tourism management.

Amy cites an outside influence with helping her focus on completion. She says it helps to have a supportive work team who has encouraged her to complete her education. Not to mention, her degrees will help her be eligible for promotions at work.

Patrice Hawkins is a returning student after a 20-year break. She attended the University of Miami but had to stop attending due to some family issues. Then, she shares, “Once I started having children, I just never found the time to return.”

But it was one of those children, her oldest, that gave her motivation to return to college. Her daughter graduated from high school and had a baby in the same month and is now a freshman at Valencia. Patrice always wants to set a good example for her children and realized, “It’s hard to preach college to her, when I am a college dropout. Plus, I didn’t want her to get her degree before me!”

She chose Valencia because it was affordable and she will have her AA in a year from now. She says, “So far, this has been an awesome experience and I thank Valencia for giving me another chance!”

We still have a few more students to hear from so we will check back in with our returning students next month. If you have an idea about another series, or story idea, just let us know. Contact Jill Wileden at 407-582-3158 or


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