Evening, weekend classes help further education

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 10, 2011

By Laurie D. Willis
Livingstone College News Service
After completing her sophomore year in college, Vivian D. Williams went home to White Plains, N.Y., for the summer, landed a job in nearby Manhattan at Citibank and never returned to school – until she enrolled in Livingstone College’s Evening and Weekend College in 2007.
“I was making pretty decent money and so I just kept working the job and quit school,” Williams said. “I was on a dead-end road at the time, but I didn’t know it.”
Today, Williams has a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and plans to apply to divinity school at Duke University. She earned her degree at Livingstone in three and a half years and graduated third in her class.
“At first I didn’t know what to expect when I went back to college after having been out for so many years,” said Williams, pastor of Stelley’s Tabernacle AME Zion Church in Rockingham. “I was a little intimidated and somewhat overwhelmed. It was hard getting all of the reading done, and some of the instructors wanted a paper every week, but they’d encourage you and let you know you could do it.”
Williams is among many adults who’ve chosen to go back to school – or enroll for the first time – later in life. And she sings the praises of Livingstone’s Evening and Weekend College.
“After I’d been there a while I realized it was where I needed to be,” Williams said. “My self esteem improved, and I made wonderful friends. Like I told a friend of mine, if you’re not happy with your life and want to get a different result, you’ve got to do something different.”
Livingstone College’s Evening and Weekend College offers degrees in birth-kindergarten education, business administration, elementary education, religious studies and criminal justice. In fact, Salisbury’s police chief, Rory Collins, earned his criminal justice degree through Livingstone’s Evening and Weekend College.
To accommodate people’s busy schedules, Livingstone’s Evening and Weekend College offers two formats, Accelerated and Weekend College.
In the Accelerated format, classes meet Monday through Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
In the Weekend College format – designed specifically for working adults and nontraditional age students who are beginning a four-year degree program – classes meet Fridays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
In both formats, the majority of the classes meet in eight-week blocks.
“Increasingly across the country, older adults are returning to college or going for the first time,” said Carol Pickett, director of Livingstone’s Evening and Weekend College. “We are fortunate at Livingstone to be able to offer degrees in five disciplines for those who need to attend college at their own pace. Our class formats are conducive to those who have very busy lives that include work and children. We invite people who are interested to contact us for more information to begin the process toward earning a degree and enriching their lives.”
Fall classes begin Aug. 18.
When they start, Anitra Kelly will take a full load of classes. For Kelly, you could say this is the third time around. She has an associate’s degree in computer information systems from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and an associate’s degree in web technology from RCCC.
Kelly said she chose Livingstone because it was a good fit for her lifestyle. She is married and has sons ages 3 and 5.
“The Evening and Weekend College has been working out well for me,” Kelly said. “It makes it easy for me to be able to study and take care of my boys. It’s local and it’s convenient.”
Kelly is the administrative assistant for the division of business at Livingstone, a job she held before deciding to attend school there. She’s majoring in business and has a perfect GPA. She anticipates graduating sometime in 2012 and hopes to eventually obtain an MBA.
Like Williams, Kelly said she would recommend Livingstone’s Evening and Weekend College to older adults looking to return to college or enroll for the first time. And she said Pickett, the director, is always ready to assist students whenever problems arise.
“If we have any problems, Mrs. Pickett is always there to work them out,” Kelly said. “The environment at Livingstone’s Evening and Weekend College is very conducive to people who need a second chance or a new start. I’m married, have children and work full time, and because I went to school before and have now come back, I really value my education. With hard work and dedication I’ve maintained a 4.0 GPA since I’ve been at Livingstone.”
Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr. said students like Kelly and Williams add value to the program because they’re serious about their education.
“Rev. Williams graduated early and third in her class,” Jenkins said. “And Mrs. Kelly has a perfect grade point average. Their stories are true testaments to the fact that going back to college later in life, though it won’t necessarily be easy, can be done and done well. I hope any older adult who’s considering returning to school or going for the first time will strongly consider what we have to offer here at Livingstone College. Our program is top-notch, and earning a degree is a great way to improve one’s quality of life. I’m proud of our Evening and Weekend College and expect enrollment to continue increasing as more people begin to realize the gem that’s available to them, in some cases, right in their back door.”