Twenty-one year old Kenzley Velthuis is very happy with the progress she has made at Bed Bath and Beyond in the two years she has worked there. She started out as a cashier, moved to an on-the-floor position and now enjoys an Operations spot that controls what ships in and what ships out.
“I just fell in love with it,” says Kenzley. “They have asked me how far I want to go with the company, and I know that with a degree I can go much higher.”
Kenzley feels that the Business Administration program at SJVC will give her the training and credential she needs to take her budding career all the way to the top. But before coming to the Ontario campus she had a couple of missteps within the community college system.
“I was wasting my time taking classes like history and art that I would never need,” she says. “I was on too many waiting lists; it didn’t make any sense to me.”
She took a break from school and became a nanny for Dylan, a 10-year old boy with ADHD. Kenzley may have learned more from him than her formal education could have provided at that time.
“I helped Dylan realize that he could do it on his own,” says Kenzley. “He could go to school, do his homework, focus better than he realized. I gave him courage and he looked up to me.”
Dylan’s dependency on her helped Kenzley find greater strength in herself.
“I feel like he taught me to grow up,” says Kenzley. “I was nineteen and had to take care of this little boy and get him from A to B. I couldn’t be an uneducated, unemployed teenager. I had to do something with my life.”
Some of Kenzley’s old insecurities resurfaced. She had not been a very successful student in high school and was easily bored with its slow pace of class projects and assignments. In contrast, she finds the accelerated BA program to be just what she needs to challenge her quick mind.
“This program (BA) actually works for me because it keeps me on my toes and my brain working faster,” she says.
No one was more surprised than Kenzley to find herself with a 4.0 GPA and voted Student of the Quarter.
“Kenzley is the President of our Enactus club, volunteers her time on weekends to collect canned foods, and helps create events on campus,” says Lindsay Fotia, Dean of Student Services. “She is in the process of organizing a fashion show on campus.”
Kenzley confesses that she was not sure she was college material. Her thin educational accomplishments in high school left her uncertain about her academic abilities. But it is that very fear that now seems to propel her toward greater accomplishment.
“I think the fact that I wasn’t a good student in high school makes me want to prove to everyone – and myself – that I am smart,” says Kenzley. “To prove that I could do more than a high school degree; because, at first, I didn’t know if I was going to.”
Getting back into the rhythm of classes, homework and tests was not an easy thing for her, especially with Kenzley working full-time. At one point she was working nights, getting off at 6:00 AM to be in class at 7:00 AM, and functioning on about five hours of sleep. Somehow she made that schedule work for two long months.
In retrospect Kenzley might have done things a little differently.
“I just really regret having taken those years out of school,” she says. “It’s kind of hard to relearn the basics of study and discipline,” she says.
Kenzley compares going back to school to getting back onto a treadmill that is already in motion.
“It’s kind of hard to jump back on a moving treadmill once you’ve gotten off,” she says.
Kenzley may have returned to her education later than she likes, but has she also gained some important wisdom that came from her start-and-stop-and-start path.
“I would tell others to not waste any time and don’t give up,” she says. “If you have trouble with long classes, take the time to find the school that fits you and you’ll be way more happy.”
Kenzley did. And, she is way happy.