Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Marc Schoder
PORTALES—Working toward her Eastern degree has been a long and winding road for Lenna Rolan, Financial Aid Specialist. In fact, the road has taken 29 years and 26 total semesters of often taking one course at a time.
"I am ready to graduate; I have worked very hard for this." says Lenna.She began her quest for her degree in accounting and businessadministration for real in 1975, but says she wouldn't endorse herroute. "I wouldn't
recommend going to school this way," says the former church-league softball player. "I always tell students to go to school while your brain is still young."
Lenna, who has been with Eastern since 1980, used her employee waiver to take one class at a time. She says that she has a good support system. "With the help of my family, I was able to balance family, my professional life and my education." She adds that her mother has been a big help by picking up her kids at school, as well as tending to her kids while she studied or worked. When she made the plunge back into school, her children — her oldest son, Jared, and her younger son, Justin — realized that mom had to study.
"I have gone to school most of my younger son's life. It's a fact of life that I have to study," says Lenna of her children's understanding.
She began her career at Eastern as a departmental secretary for the Advising Center in Lea Hall. In that position, she worked for Dick Walsh for 10 1/2 years. In 2002, she became a professional employee in Financial Aid.
One key that Lenna contributes to her success in school is that she considers herself a night owl. "I am kind of a night person, so I would study before I would crawl into bed. I have rarely gone to bed much before midnight. However, I have even gone to bed around 3 or 4 a.m."
At times she thought she would never finish; however, she takes humor in one particular part. "I joked one time that if they would have let me stay in the 1975 catalog that I started with, it wouldn't have taken this long."
Lenna says another factor that helped her get her degree was that she Clepped 18 credit hours. (Clepping involves taking a test to demonstrate knowing the subject matter without taking the course.) "I Clepped out of math, English, and humanities right after I got out of high school, so I didn't need to worry about taking those general education requirements," she says.
The voracious reader, who likes to keep a stack of books by her bed, is looking forward to free time after she graduates in May. "I am definitely not going to miss studying." She especially looks forward to reading books
that aren't business-related. "I like to read a lot, but I only read for enjoyment during the summers because I figured if I am spending that much time reading I needed to be reading my textbooks."
The avid Dallas Cowboy fan is also looking forward to sitting back and doing another one of her favorite hobbies, cross-stitching.
When not engaged in her hobbies or schooling, Lenna takes great pride in her work. "I actually feel like I can help people. When I have people come in I try to make them feel more comfortable in dealing with the financial aid aspect of college. That makes me feel good."