Jane Reeves was passionate about being a truck driver for many years because she loved to travel but eventually she had to give it up to advocate for her daughter Reeva, who is autistic.
After working as a truck driver, Reeves worked factory jobs. After multiple years of repetitive movement on the assembly line at the Toyota plant, Jane acquired a knee injury and was unable to do manual labor.
For non-traditional college students, the decision to leave the work force and pursue a college degree can be made more difficult due to finances, an inflexible work schedule, family responsibilities as well as the need for the drive to want to pursue higher education.
Reeves is a 46-year-old mother of three completing her bachelors in global supply chain management at Eastern Kentucky University.
"I had no other choice but to go to college. I needed to go in a new direction to earn new training and education," said Reeves.
The skills that she had once learned and used in high labor jobs were no longer possible due to her injury. She heard about the Ready to Work Program through the Ashland Community and Technical College which provided her the resources to pursue a college degree.
She recently received two degrees from Ashland Community and Technical College, an associates in general studies and an associates in applied science in business.
With the two associate degrees under her belt, she continued her higher education and came to EKU. She was able to work with the EKU Center for Student Parents to assist with her ability to attend EKU.
The center is a supportive service program for parents at EKU. The program supports student parents through achieving their academic goals, helping them become career ready and moving them towards self sufficiency.
Robyn Moreland works for the Center for Student Parents and has worked closely with Reeves.
"Jane is very determined to complete her degree and get the profession she has always wanted. She made a choice to complete a degree and never lets her life's challenges stop her from doing that. She puts herself into positions where she can learn, network and get the most from the educational experiences that are offered to her," Moreland said.
Most recently, she has taken leadership roles in student organizations in her department. All of this is to provide a better life for her family and to serve as a role model for her children and grandchildren.
"They [Center for Student Parents] place you at a job and help you in any way to make a degree possible. They provide business clothes, tutoring, anything you could need. If it weren't for that I wouldn't be here today," said Reeves.
She applied for many scholarships and was awarded several, including a transfer scholarship as well as one for the honors program.
Some of the courses at EKU that she has enjoyed the most are logistics, operations management as well as international business.
The honors program has also given her the opportunity to take courses that she never would have dreamed of taking, including 'shaking up Shakespeare' and a course about modern cinema.
Reeves has found support within the College of Business and Technology through Kirby Easterling, senior lecturer and executive in residence for global supply chain. She said that he is all about the supply chain and has been very supportive of her during her time at EKU.
He has been available for anything that she needs as well as making sure that she signs up for the correct classes.
Along with taking classes, Reeves has been an intern for the City of Ashland since Summer 2019 and continued throughout the Fall 2019 semester.
She has been working in human resources as an administrative assistant. She does filing and office work as well as learning about risk management, liability, liquor licensing, bus routes and benefits.
In addition, she has also gained knowledge about the government side of business.
Her internship is funded through the Center for Student Parents where she also works multiple days a week in their office.
Reeves shared that working on campus is very beneficial for her because they work with her class schedule as well as give her an opportunity to gain job experience.
"Don't be afraid to do it [pursue a degree as a nontraditional student]. People think that they are too old or that they have missed their calling. No, they haven't, you just have to want it badly enough," Reeves said.