Betsy Epp loves Fort Collins and Colorado State University. Now, after getting married, having children, and navigating many of life’s twists and turns, she is graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies and plans for a career helping the residents of the community she loves.
The Denver native started at CSU in Fall 2007, right after graduating high school, and studied early childhood education. Then, in her junior year, her roommate unexpectedly passed away. “It was challenging to focus on anything else,” she said. “At that point I decided to take a semester off school. Then one semester turned into 5 or 6 years.”
During those years, transformed by what had happened to her roommate, Epp decided to train as an emergency medical technician and got certified as a nursing assistant. “After working in home health and volunteering as an EMT, I discovered how much I like health care,” she said.
The spring after her second child was born, Epp re-enrolled in the HDFS program. She changed her concentration to pre-health, and instead of attending classes on campus, she took advantage of the program’s online courses.
Epp chose to study online because she wanted to be with her kids, and because her husband was often gone during the week working as a wildland firefighter. “I really wanted to be home with my girls, I really wanted flexibility, but I knew that I wanted to continue with CSU because I’d had such a good experience with the professors and the curriculum leading up to my time off,” she said.
Studying online and returning to school required building up a routine and discipline. “There were a lot of times when I just wanted to go lay down and read a book with the kids and close the computer and not think about it anymore,” she said. “Most of the work I did was at night when the kids were sleeping, during their naps, or on the weekend when my husband was home.”
All up to you
Looking back on it, Epp said she wouldn’t have done it any other way. “At first I was worried I would miss out on being in the classroom and being right there with the professor, but I didn’t ever have a problem hearing back from any of my professors. So many of them recorded their lectures, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out in that way, either,” she said.
The biggest difference, Epp said, is that studying online is all up to you. “No one is going to make you sit down and watch the lectures or read the book. You need a physical space and the inner drive to get you to open your computer in the first place.”
Epp offered her advice to other students who study online, especially those who are parents. “Stick with it. Take every little moment that you can. All those little bits of time add up. If you feel like throwing in the towel, just take a step back and know that you can get through it,” she said.
Now that she’s graduating, Epp is deciding between enrolling in a nursing program or earning her master of public health degree.
This semester Epp has been doing an internship at the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. “They have inspired me to work within my own community and make an impact on the health and wellness of residents,: she said. “I just want to see this community continue to thrive and be healthy.”