Student Spotlight: Sarah English

Twenty Years After Her Initial Attempt at College, Sarah English Is Preparing to Graduate With Honors


By Stacey Batchellor |   July 2010

Sarah English , Student

The old adage “it’s never too late” couldn’t be truer for Sarah English. More than 20 years after her initial attempt at college, Sarah—a 56-year-old mother and grandmother of two with an already established career in the Department of the Navy—gave college a second chance. And, she’s glad she did. She is set to graduate from UMUC in Spring 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and possibly a 4.0 GPA.

Sarah, who first began taking college classes in the early 1980s, found it to be difficult with having two young children at home. She, like so many other working mothers going to college, felt the pressure of juggling home life and course work. “I gave up when my son had the measles and two weeks later my daughter got them as well,” says Sarah.More than 20 years later, with some encouragement from her boyfriend, Sarah went back to college. Determined to make it work this time, she successfully earned her associate’s degree in General Studies from Montgomery College. When she learned about UMUC’s Community College Transfer Scholarship, which is available to outstanding graduates of participating community colleges, she applied.“The application was very simple,” she says. “It seemed like only a short time later that I was approved for the scholarship. My credits were transferred electronically from Montgomery College to UMUC.”Sarah says the convenience of UMUC’s multiple course locations and online courses has kept it manageable for her. UMUC provides her with the flexibility she needs as a part-time student and full-time worker. “I love face-to-face classes,” Sarah says, but adds that she recently discovered the convenience of online classes. “I was always afraid of online classes, but when you need a flexible schedule, they are great!Sarah, employed with the U.S. Navy for more than 25 years, plans to use her Communications degree to further her career. As a Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act Specialist, she deals with the public a great deal and says her studies have directly applied to her everyday work. When asked what her plans for the future include, Sarah says she has been looking into a master’s degree program, but for now, is enjoying the moment and looking forward to her graduation day.Sarah has some words of encouragement for those considering going back to college. “A family member once told me that I wasn’t ‘college material,’ and initially I believed it,” she says. “But I have proved him wrong. In my opinion, everybody is ‘college material,’ you just have to believe in yourself.”