Claudia Hale found herself at a crossroads in life.
“I had to make a decision, had to turn my life around,” she said.
Claudia had come to the United States 11 years ago from her native Germany and was self-employed with her then-husband in the construction industry. When they divorced, she decided it was time to do what she loves most.
So she came to Stark State to hone her photography skills into a career. Along with taking hobby photos, she’d shot before-and-after pictures for her business as well as videos for her sister, who’s a musician. Now entering her fourth semester as a digital video media technology major, “it was the right choice,” she said.
That’s not to say she didn’t have her doubts from the moment she walked in the door. “I was like, ‘I’m so old, what am I doing here?’” she said. “The lady at the information desk was so inviting and calming. She said, ‘Look around you, you’ll see all kinds of older people.’
“Everyone is so friendly,” Claudia said. “I knew I was at the right place. I’m not regretting anything.”
The good fit shows. Claudia is a student worker in student advising and engagement, a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and involved in campus events. She also recently was the lone winner of a $1,500 Ohio Broadcasters community college scholarship.
“Claudia is always enthusiastic and passionate about her work,” said Michelle Lash, a Stark State digital media instructor. “She continually demonstrates her love of learning and the level of commitment necessary to succeed in college and beyond.”
While Stark State “feels like a community,” Claudia said, a bachelor’s degree is next on her to-do list after she earns her associate degree next year.
And for others weighing whether they’re “too old” to go back to school, Claudia has a word of advice: “I say give it a shot. Doors have opened to me since I’ve been at Stark State that I never would have thought would open.”
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