Senior Amy Winkler discusses the struggles of a non-traditional student

By Danielle LeBlanc
On February 7, 2014

For many, deciding on a career and obtaining a degree is not easy. This process is often extremely difficult and takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and self-realization.

Amy Winkler is 41 years old and a senior here at UNH. Winkler first went to college right out of high school in 1988. She attended the University of Vermont for one year as a secondary education major.

"When I first went to school I really wanted to teach high school," Winkler said. "I wanted to help the crazy kids who didn't fit in."

However, Winkler's funding fell apart and she had to leave the university. Winkler said she then transferred to the University of Oregon. There, Winkler received her associate's degree in graphic design and silversmithing instead of secondary education.

"Graphic design was more about finding myself as an artist," Winkler said.

While she was an education major at the University of Vermont, Winkler realized that she was one of those "crazy kids" who didn't fit in in high school. She claimed that art helped her to deal with that.

Winkler ended up finding work as an interior designer, and she worked in the field for 15 years before she started to realize she wanted to go back to school. 

However, things took a different turn for Winkler in 2008. "When the recession hit in 2008, the economic landscape changed," Winkler said.


"By then I had been out of high school for 26 years," Winkler said. "It had been 13 years since I left Oregon."

However, with the support of her family and the realization that she wanted to finish her education, Winkler decided to return to school.

"Education was something my family always valued as important," Winkler said.

In 2011, Winkler sold her house and land in order to return to school. She is now living in Newmarket while she pursues a psychology major and a minor in women's studies, a plan that she feels is in line with what she originally set out to do at the University of Vermont.

"Being a psychology major and being a teacher aren't that different," Winkler said.

 Winkler claimed that she still wants to be involved with people and to help them to evolve and grow. However, she also said that it was really challenging going back to school later in life.

"It was hard sitting in class and being old enough to be everyone's mother," Winkler said. "Interactions with other people were a little bit of a challenge."

Winkler also feared that her ability to learn and succeed in school wasn't there.

"At 41 years old and going back to school, I was nervous of my own ability to achieve, learn and even take exams," Winkler said.

However, after everything, Winkler is finally graduating and getting her degree this May. She claimed that she already decided to take a year off before going to grad school to refine her education.

"It's really rewarding," Winkler said. "I feel like I really earned it."

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