It took Katy Hartshorn more than 20 years and four attempts to earn her bachelor’s degree, but she never doubted she would one day be a college graduate.
“I always wanted to finish,” she said. “I don’t start things and not finish, no matter how long they take.”
Hartshorn, 39, will graduate May 12 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. Watching her walk across the stage at Broadmoor World Arena will be her son, Jakob, 19, a sophomore at UCCS, along with her husband and stepchildren. Her stepdaughter, Lauren, 20, is a sophomore at the Boulder campus.
Hartshorn started at UCCS in 1996 after graduating from Lewis-Palmer High School. She soon got married and gave birth to her son. Despite her best attempts to juggle motherhood, school and work, she was overwhelmed and left UCCS after two semesters.
Hartshorn became a flight attendant in 1999 and worked in the airline industry for the next 10 years. It was a wonderful job that afforded her lots of flexibility as she raised her son, she said.
In 2000, she tried UCCS again but withdrew. Two years later, she was back at UCCS. “I was doing homework in the backs of airplanes and hotel rooms,” she said.
But Hartshorn left UCCS again in 2004. She had made progress toward her degree, but parenting, work and school were again too much. Not long after, she left Frontier Airlines, having missed too many of her son’s milestones, including his fifth birthday.
In 2015, as her son started college, Hartshorn felt more driven than ever to finish her degree. Now remarried, she had the support she needed to return to school, and she wanted to set an example for their children. “He’s made lots of sacrifices,” Hartshorn said of her husband.
The fourth time was the charm for Hartshorn. She made the President’s List her first semester back. She was co-president of Lambda Pi Eta, a communication honor society, and a UCCS College of Letters, Arts and Sciences student ambassador. Her GPA is 3.8, a far cry from the 0.4 she earned in her first semester at UCCS.
Hartshorn never wavered from wanting to earn a communication degree, and that’s given her a long view of the program – including faculty members. In 2003, during her third stint at UCCS, Hartshorn enrolled in a Writing for the Media class taught by Laura Eurich. She was back in Eurich’s classroom last semester for a public relations class, and Eurich is the faculty supervisor for Hartshorn’s internship this semester. Hartshorn counts Eurich among her biggest supporters.
“UCCS has been part of my life, in one way or another, for the last 21 years,” Hartshorn said. “I am proud to be a part of this community. Having my son graduate from the same university makes it even more special to me.”
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