Jennifer Gatlin’s educational journey began like many students in the College of Liberal Studies. She achieved the honor roll in high school enough times to hold her head high and simply assumed that college was in her future. After graduation, she decided to take a semester off and get a job while deciding what to do with her life.
That one semester off turned into almost five years. Gatlin said she always intended to start on her degree, but her life had fallen into a holding pattern, and she just never got the shove she needed to take action. That is, until one evening when was visiting her mother-in-law, who said, “Jennifer, time will pass whether you do anything with it or not.” It really hit home.
Within a month of that conversation, Gatlin had enrolled in her first courses at Oklahoma City Community College. Gatlin said her mother-in-law’s statement is a mantra that she has tried to live by ever since.
When Gatlin joined the CLS staff, she boasted six college credits on her resume. She continued to take courses at OCCC in the evenings and on weekends as she became acquainted with, and talked to, other people about CLS programs. Eventually she actually saw the liberal studies program working for people.
“I would attend our convocation ceremonies and recognize the names of graduates as they crossed the stage and recall conversations I had with them as prospective students,” Gatlin said. “That was really inspiring.”
She made the decision and enrolled in a 100 percent online degree program and never looked back. Over the next three years, she steadily worked her way through the program while “life” continued to happen. Gatlin maintained a full-time job, kept the home fires burning while her husband was mobilized for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan, relocated upon his return and had a baby all by the time she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.
“Earning my degree has meant so much to me,” Gatlin said. “Not only has it opened a window of opportunity for me to explore new passions, but just as importantly, it has shown me that when I commit to a goal, I truly can see it through. That is a life lesson not easily forgotten.”
Update: The College of Liberal Studies was renamed the College of Professional and Continuing Studies in 2017.