A local journalist with Civitas Media recently completed her academic studies to receive a bachelor of arts degree.
Kathleen Guill of Frederick graduated from Cameron University in December 2016 with a degree in English and a minor in journalism. She has been working for the Frederick Press-Leader since June 2016.
“It was hard finishing that last semester while working,” Guill said. “It didn’t help that I saved the hardest classes for last. I didn’t do that intentionally, but I spent the first five years trying to get classes on days and at times that would still allow me to be able to pick the children up from school and not miss parent-teacher conferences. Even though getting an education was important to me, being a mom remained my number one priority.
“I didn’t have any family here to help me. My parents and siblings live hours away and my mother-in-law lives in Oklahoma City. I know they would have helped with the boys in any way possible if they were close enough. But they all cheered me on the entire time and helped me know that I could do this, even on days where I wondered why in the world I thought this was possible.”
Guill said that she decided to earn a degree because she wanted her children to have something to look back on when things get hard and say “I can do this because my mom never gave up on her dream.”
“My children were my biggest reason for going to college, but I think my brother was my biggest inspiration. He got two degrees in his 30s so I knew I could at least get one,” Guill said. “Brian and his wife Hilary have been two of my biggest cheerleaders while I was earning my degree. And of course my husband and children always let me know how proud they were of me, even when their grades were better than mine.”
It’s not easy finding quality child care that also is affordable. When Guill began her college career her youngest son was only a year old and she went through several babysitters before he was finally able to begin Head Start.
“That was the hardest part, I think,” Guill said. “You only want the best for your child so when you pick him up from a babysitter and he’s obviously sat in a soiled diaper for most of the day, it makes you feel guilty and question your reasons for being away from them. It definitely got easier when all three boys started school. I had more freedom to take more classes that I needed for my degree instead of taking electives simply because they were offered at good times.”
Guill said that going back to school is one of the best decisions she’s ever made. Even though it was difficult, it was worth it. She said that she knew that after the children were all in school and doing more for themselves that she wanted a career, not just a job, and earning a degree is what got her there.
“It was hard balancing the boys’ activities with school and sometimes I had to choose between homework and a baseball game, but I think they understood,” Guill said. “I made as many of their events as possible and sometimes I skipped a class to make it possible, but I think I did well with that balance.
“Failure was not an option. I’ve never been a quitter and I wasn’t going to start now. I’ve always been able to motivate myself, but it felt really good to have so many people cheering me on. So many people from church offered to help in any way they could. Deedra Martell was so helpful in getting my kids to and from school. She braved the nightmare that is the kindergarten pickup line for an entire school year.
“Judy Benson was always there with words of encouragement whether I saw her at church or some event around town or even at the grocery store. She is so extremely proud of me that it brings tears to my eyes and made me work all the harder. She’s been like a mom to me and a grandma to my boys. She even stood up with me when my son was baptized. We would be here all day if I listed all of the people I’m thankful for.”
Guill said that when her degree arrived in the mail it was one of the proudest days of her life.
“I felt so accomplished. It was a tangible thing that showed that my hard work paid off in the end,” she said. “It was all worth it and I’m exactly where I want to be. I love this town, so to be able to have a career here was really just the icing on top of the cake. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for my family and me.”