Roger and Kimberly Wright have always encouraged their three children to finish what they started and stressed the importance of an education. So with their children well on their way to earning degrees, they knew they had to practice what they preached and complete their degrees at Lorain County Community College.
“We impressed on them that once they graduated high school, there was only one route to go, and that was to get a good education,” says Kimberly.
It wasn’t easy going back to school after they’d spent decades building careers and raising a family, but Roger and Kimberly found balance and support at LCCC.
And the payoff for earning their degrees — a higher paying job and a promotion — was almost immediate.
Kimberly was working full time as a restaurant manager when she began nursing classes at LCCC in 1982. She completed her classes, but during her clinicals, the schedule became too much, and she left the program. After marrying Roger, she changed jobs several times, working as a case worker and office manager as she tried to schedule around her family’s needs.
“It was hard raising kids, working full time and taking care of the house,” says Kimberly, who took business classes intermittently at LCCC as time and finances allowed. “But it was important to make sure the kids were focused on their education so they could go to college.”
Roger served in the Army in the 1980s as a military police officer, then started working at the Lorain Correctional Institution as a corrections officer. He was promoted to lieutenant, then to captain in 2012.
“Over that course of time, several of my supervisors were encouraging me to pursue a degree,” says Roger, who took his first class at LCCC 20 years ago, but then got busy raising kids and coaching sports. “My supervisors really stayed on me about going to school.”
Meanwhile, the Wright children heeded their parents’ advice and went to four-year colleges. Once the oldest two graduated and the youngest went off to a university, Kimberly decided it was time to finish her degree.
“Being a student and still having to take care of the home and work full time was a challenge, but the professors were accommodating and the schedule flexible,” she says. “I just took it one day at a time and stayed on point.”
Seeing her success, Roger soon followed.
“She inspired me. We’re pretty competitive,” Roger says, citing an architecture class they took together — in which Kimberly got a higher grade.
Back on track
It had been decades since Roger and Kimberly were college students, and Roger was initially leery about going back to school.
“I was hesitant about sitting in a classroom, knowing I was going to be the oldest one in every class,” says Roger, who’s in his 50s. “I wasn’t very good at high school. But I proved to myself that I can learn at a much higher level and achieve something.”
Roger tested out of several courses through a Prior Learning Assessment, earning credit for skills and knowledge he’d learned on the job.
“That helped keep me on point,” he says, “knowing that I didn’t have so far to go to achieve the degree.” Kimberly leveraged LCCC’s tutoring center to refresh her math skills.
“I work with numbers all the time, but if you don’t practice college-level math every day, it seems foreign,” she says. “So I appreciated having the opportunity to use the tutoring center.”
Although LCCC’s main campus in Elyria was a convenient location for the Vermilion couple, they still had to juggle full-time jobs with their college schedules. So evening and online classes were also key, as was affordability and the ability after graduation to continue their educations through LCCC’s University Partnership.
“Having the flexibility of taking online courses was a big benefit and gave us more time to interact with our kids,” Roger says.
Achieving degrees together
Through the years, Roger says he and Kimberly “spent a lot of time encouraging and pushing each other to reach the final goal of achieving our degrees.” Finally, in December 2017, Kimberly earned an associate of arts degree and a short-term certificate in business administration. In 2018, Roger completed his associate of applied science in corrections. To culminate their accomplishments, they walked across the stage together to receive their diplomas last spring.
The experience was so positive, the Wrights say they should have encouraged their children to take advantage of the opportunities LCCC offers.
“I wish we had sent our kids there, instead of to regional four-year universities,” Roger says.
For the Wrights, earning their LCCC degrees quickly paid off. After feeling like she had stalled in previous jobs, Kimberly leveraged her degree to land a higher-paying position as an office manager for a health care company. Roger was promoted to major at the prison soon after graduation.
And the Wrights aren’t done. Roger is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice through LCCC’s University Partnership with Youngstown State University, and Kimberly plans to pursue an advanced business degree through the UP program.
“Don’t put it off,” Roger urges others like himself. “Just go take a class. My bet is you’re going to go back for more, because you’re getting a good quality education at LCCC.”