Profiles in Successby Erin Stimmel
My name is Erin Stimmel. I am a single mom with three children and two grandchildren. Until fall semester 2009, that was how I described and defined myself in relation to everything I did. Once I started college though, I began to see myself in a different light. The word student started to enter into the picture. I no longer started automatically with I am a mom and grandma, but with I am a student at the University of Akron majoring in social work. That was a HUGE shift!
From the time I began to work in my teens, I held jobs in housekeeping and care giving. Unfortunately, the older I became, the harder the work was to do. I started having back trouble and other physical issues. I was at a crossroads and I didn’t even recognize it at the time. I always wanted to go back to school and “do something with my life.” What that was, I hadn’t a clue. I left high school and received my GED the same year as I would have graduated. That left me with limited options. But both my parents and my sister graduated from The University of Akron and it was natural that I begin my journey there.
I decided I wanted to work with the elderly in a social work setting. I could still be a care giver, just not in the physical sense. I began school fall 2009 and signed up for my first semester courses which included a recommended class called Student Success Seminar for Adults. This was a freshman orientation course aimed at adult students. One thing I discovered early on was that I didn’t feel like I fit. Everyone was younger. I was surrounded by students who were the age of my kids. That feeling lasted until I walked into the Student Success Seminar and saw nine other folks who looked just like me, talked like me, and had the same interests and responsibilities as me. I began to relax.
Two years later, I am a sophomore. The road has not been easy. Detours were and are everywhere, but I have stayed on my path. I even discovered scholarships; money for good grades. I knew that scholarships existed, but didn’t think they were for adults…I was wrong. This academic year I applied for several scholarships and was granted two of them. I am a recipient of the Verna Trushel Displaced Homemaker Scholarship and the Provost’s Scholarship for Continuing and Completing Adult Students. This money has made school so much less stressful. I can concentrate on my studies and continue to receive good grades. Those grades are necessary because my ultimate goal is an M.S.W., a master’s degree in social work.