Kettering College Helps “Non-Traditional” Students Succeed

Kettering College views a job in healthcare as not just a career but a calling. It is a call to care for others and connect with them in a deep, personal way. It is a call to do sacred work. Our students sometimes feel that call right after high school, but several of them experience life or even other careers first before answering that call. In fact, the average age of a Kettering College student is 25, so we are re-defining what a “traditional” student looks like in higher education.

Sonography student, Paig Hermiller, fits into that category of a “non-traditional” student who went about her life after high school, got married, and worked as an STNA for ten years. She had attended another college and struggled to keep her grades up. Paig says she has always wanted to go into sonography but didn’t have the confidence to pursue it until after she got divorced.

She admits it’s never easy to talk about divorce, but she is clear it is not the event that defines her. She said after walking through such a challenging time in her life, she knew it was time to do something for herself, and she wanted to figure out what that was. She says looking into going back to college was her “Paig Empowerment Mode” because she finally took a risk toward doing something that was in her heart for ten years.

Her younger sister graduated from Kettering College and has always talked about what an amazing college this is. Paig saw what a great education her sister got, and it pushed her to move toward the calling of sonography that had been quietly tucked away, now getting louder.

“When I started Kettering College, I was a shell of a person, just going through the motions,” Paig says. “I didn’t have a good academic background, and I lacked confidence. Four years ago, I didn’t know who I was. My divorce rocked my world, and when I first started classes, I was very quiet. I wouldn’t speak up in class.” It didn’t take long for Paig to find her voice as she gained confidence and started to feel connected.

“With having smaller classes and being with similar people day in and day out, it helped me know I can voice my opinions. I can reach outside of the box and do something different with my life.”

-Paig Hermiller, Kettering College Student

Because of Paig’s past academic probation, she frequently met with Bev Ervin in Academic Support Services to ensure her success. She says Bev was a huge part in growing her confidence and belief in herself. “Bev was amazing because she not only asked me how I was doing academically, but also how I was doing personally.” This personal focus and attention was something Paig had not experienced at her previous college, and her grades drastically improved.

Within just two weeks of meeting her, Bev asked Paig if she would be a tutor. Paig laughed it off, letting her past struggles hold her back. She told Bev, “I’m not a good student.” Bev simply replied, “Yes, you are. Let’s just try it.” Paig finally took the next step in the “Paig Empowerment Mode” and began tutoring.

As she began to get feedback from students she was helping, she started to believe in herself. Whereas she was once self-conscious and defined herself by her past, she was beginning to grow into a confident student who was succeeding and helping others along the way.

Paig’s determination to succeed kept building to get her to where she is today: graduating next month with a bachelor’s degree in Sonography. She says her program was not easy, but students have the support that helps them be the best they can be. She says she could go to any teacher at any point, and they’d be more than happy to help, even if she was not in their class.

“You wouldn’t get this support and personal focus at a bigger college. It feels like a family here.”

She notes the education she received at Kettering College compared to another college she attended is a “night-and-day difference.” She adds being a faith-based organization is something she didn’t even know she needed until she discovered how helpful it was.

She hadn’t given her faith a focus before she came here. She said, “Having teachers praying with you before an exam—you don’t think that means anything to you, but at the end of the day it means a lot. Those little touches make a huge difference.”

Paig had a spiritual advisor from the library who sent her weekly cards, reminding Paig she was praying for her. Paig admits she didn’t realize how impactful that was and soon realized how much she needed that in her life.

“Even if I forgot to care for myself spiritually along the way, people at Kettering College were not going to let me forget, which helped me remember I do need these things in my life.”

She said her faith began to grow as she realized she does need prayer in her life. She said it was powerful to know people were thinking of each other and they let each other know that instead of being impersonable.

Paig was thrilled to learn she was nominated for the George B Nelson award, a prestigious honor for a student who shows drive, determination and spirit. She says, “Never in a million years would I have seen myself sitting here, but I am so proud that I am.”

Her next goal is to pass her boards after 7/15 graduation. She’s reminding herself to take the next part of her journey one step at a time. She says, “I just need to pass these boards. After that, I am open to where life will take me!”

From feeling broken and unsure to being a strong student who has answered the sacred call to healthcare, Paig Hermiller has proven you can do anything no matter where you are in life, if you believe in yourself and surround yourself with people to lift you up.

We are proud of her and all our students’ hard work and growth, both personally and academically.  We’ll be praying for Paig and all our upcoming graduates as they walk back through our doors and out into the world to serve others.

About Kettering College
Kettering College is a fully accredited, coeducational college that specializes in health science education.  A division of Kettering Health, the College is located on the Kettering Health Main campus in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio, and is chartered by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Kettering College offers an Occupational Therapy Doctoral program, a Master of Physician Assistant, Bachelor and Associate of Science degrees, and certificate programs.


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