CORVALLIS - It has taken 15 years, a lot of creative juggling, strict organization and fierce determination, but Oregon State University undergraduate Kelly Hanslovan-Bond will finally receive her bachelor's degree this month from OSU's College of Business.
It hasn't been easy for the 46-year-old Albany resident. Along with her part-time career as an OSU student, Hanslovan-Bond has been a self-employed salesperson, a single mother and a rabid baseball fan. And at times the money has been tight.
Hanslovan-Bond took the plunge back into education in 1990, taking classes at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany.
"I started when my son Jordan was 3," she said. "Now, Jordan's 18, and he's joking that he'll have his college degree before I will, but I'll have the last laugh. I'm finally getting my degree this March."
She knew her path to a four-year university degree wouldn't be easy, but Hanslovan-Bond said she couldn't see continuing where her life was leading. "I was working and I was just so bored with my job," she said. "I decided there had to be something else." So, she investigated her options and decided to go back to college.
There was just one glitch.
Divorced and raising a son, Hanslovan-Bond was too busy making a living and being a mother to take time off for college - so she decided to just take a class or two each term, molding her studies around her already full days.
"It wasn't the easiest thing," said the 1976 Stayton High School graduate. "It's much easier to do right out of high school than it is to start up 14 years later." But college life wasn't completely foreign - Hanslovan-Bond had attended LBCC immediately after high school, though she put her college career on ice to work full-time, get married, have a son, and eventually get divorced.
And then it was back at LBCC, taking one class a term and slowly edging her way toward a two-year-degree. Finally as she completed classes at LBCC in 2000, she moved over to OSU to study marketing in the university's College of Business.
OSU officials were quick to encourage her dreams and eased the process of transferring her community college credits to Oregon State.
"I was always impressed by her determination," said Roberto Sanchez, one of her instructors in the College of Business.
"People like her are always my hero," he added. "They are being a mother, holding a job, managing to drive their kids to soccer games and go to school. In Kelly's case, she's personable, motivated. She always managed to make it to class. I just don't know how she managed to do it and do so well."
Barbara Balz, OSU registrar, said such long-term dedication to a college degree is rare, but not unheard of at Oregon State.
"I think it's remarkable when students make that kind of commitment to education and then to finally make that achievement and receive their degree," Balz said.
While a number of OSU students stretch their education out past the more typical four or five years - usually working around jobs, families or other factors - most don't exceed a decade in their quest for a diploma.
"We all have a great deal of admiration for students who take the time and make the effort to accomplish so much with their lives," Balz said. "Something like this, it takes incredible determination and dedication."
Despite her success, Hanslovan-Bond admits she thought about quitting a few times. The rush to class and then back to work, finding time to study and finally finding time for family all took a toll. But she never let the stray thoughts build into anything more than a fleeting fancy.
"Family, work, school," she said. "In one sense, I'm lucky; I have a sales job at the IpseNault Company, a promotional products firm, which offers me some flexibility. So, when I sat down and looked at my schedule, I found I could make time for it all with some organization."
She even found time for romance, marrying Todd Bond in 1996.
While her husband is supportive of her goals, Hanslovan-Bond admits he is happy to see her diploma within reach.
"He's so glad - he's really happy that I'm going to graduate in a few weeks."
She feels her quest also sends a message to her son, now playing collegiate baseball and on the path to a medical degree at a California school.
"Education is just so valuable. And I want my son to see by my example just how important education, knowledge, is in the world."