Nontraditional students and summer plans

Students enroll in college to open new life opportunities. With the spring semester ending, nontraditional students find fresh ways to fill their time.

Working toward a degree is something anyone can accomplish after tremendous difficulty, as Marcus Manuel, 42, a bachelor’s of innovation cybersecurity graduating senior, discovered.

“I’m finally getting my degree. I dropped out of high school and was addicted to heroin for 15 years. After being in prison, I got sober and have been for the past eight years,” Manuel said.

Manuel finds purpose in sharing his story to show others they can change. To make his way through his degree, Manuel juggled night shifts at a hotel with a part time course load. This semester he studied applied cryptography, system madmen and ethical hacking.

This summer Manuel is happily taking on ownership of a luxury transportation business. He is extremely grateful for the BI program for providing him with the connection to this company.

Jerry Edward Goodwin, studying BI digital filmmaking and minoring in music technology, says he has attended three colleges prior to UCCS. He has five majors and two minors and joked that he is “old as dirt.”

“Seriously, I am an older adult approaching traditional retirement age. I moved here originally as a soldier at Ft. Carson,” he said. “After I was discharged … I ended up on a 24-year Information Technology career path. In 2019, I decided I had had enough of I.T. and I dumped all my retirement money into a brand-new Photography business … six months before COVID-19 hit the states.”

Goodwin says he and his wife “packed up two adult sons and our two cats” to move back to Colorado and care for his father-in-law. While working with Veterans Affairs to aid his business, he decided to go back to school at UCCS as a full-time student.

This summer, Goodwin will be enrolled in at least one summer course and is beginning a new job.

When it comes to being a nontraditional student, Goodwin felt that “on a couple of occasions, I have felt ever so slightly left out of certain team conversations and activities because of my age.”

“I am past both those classes, learned lessons from both those similar yet different situations and still scored great grades on both projects and in both classes,” he added.

Another student, Jeffrey Smith, served in the Army for seven years after high school. He then attended Pikes Peak Community College for a few semesters, but decided he needed a different fit.

He tried an electrical apprenticeship and worked at the United States postal office before his wife helped encourage him to enroll in the university.

Smith decided to study business finance because of his interest in stocks. He has found a passion for it and plans to work at an investment firm.

Smith and his wife are recently married and since they have recently returned from their honeymoon, Smith says his summer will be spent in Colorado and will include hiking and camping. Smith will also be taking summer courses.

From left: Marcus Manuel, Jerry Goodman, Jeffery Smith. Photos courtesy of interviewees.