August 29, 2022

Like many non-traditional students, Emily Klayman was unsure about re-starting her education. “I felt weird about going back to school at 26, and was afraid to go back to school.

“I started slowly, by taking a summer class in Art Appreciation,” Emily remembers. When she earned an A, she knew she had nothing to fear.

Emily had initially started working on her General Education classes at Century College after high school, with the goal of becoming a teacher. She took a break from college when got a job at Stillwater Middle School as paraprofessional in Special Education.

Additive and Digital Manufacturing: A New Passion

When she was randomly assigned to work in the school’s Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab), Emily discovered a new passion.  She loved 3-D printing, and she felt it was a natural career fit for her.

Soon after, she attended a Century College Open House, and was torn between getting a degree in Additive and Digital Manufacturing or Engineering CAD Technology.  She talked with Randy Jasken, faculty member and program director for the College’s ADM program, and intuitively felt that this was the right direction for her.

Real Life Learning

In 2019, Emily restarted her Century College academic career. “I took the ‘How to Make Almost Anything Class’ in Century’s Digital Fabrication Lab with Randy Jasken, along with an AutoCAD class,” Emily remembers. “I was still working full time at Stillwater Middle School.  Both classes were in-person, and I got  A’s.  I particularly enjoyed Randy’s class, because I could take what I learned there and apply it to my own Fab Lab classes. I used the knowledge learned in both aspects of my life.” 

She made a Minnesota Cribbage Board, and enjoyed using lasers and 3D printers. “I didn’t feel like an outsider in the class, because most students are not just out of high school.  I was around my peers,” Emily says.

Supportive Faculty with Industry Experience

“Every professor has always been understanding and accommodating. If you need help and reach out, you’ll get a quick response. All of them are extremely supportive,” Emily notes.

When she needed to take an electricity class, HVAC instructor Craig Kennedy allowed her to join the class with no problem at all, even though the class had already started.

“The Century College professors have industry experience,” Emily observes. “When I took AutoCAD, the professor had worked part-time in the industry, and had real-life experience—so what I was learning was current and relevant.”

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, she continued with ADM, realizing that she wanted to work in a Fab Lab classroom.  She’s currently earning her Bachelor’s in Technology Education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. ”I needed a lot of tech credits and the classes at Century College apply to my degree,’ Emily says. “Randy helped me with my requirements, and accommodated my work schedule. He saved me – he knew how important it was to me.”

Last spring, Emily met with Randy once a week, and she helped him prepare for his regularly scheduled class the next week. They also worked on an online course together. “If you have an idea, Randy will put in equal work just so you can make it happen. He’ll come up with ideas and he always follows through.”

Affordable Education

Another perk of Emily’s Century College experience was the affordability of her education. Her first three years at Century were covered by financial aid, including the cost of textbooks. In addition, she was able purchase a computer at the Century IT Department sale. “I got my computer for $50.00 in 2020, and it’s still going strong,” she enthuses.

Future Plans

Emily will graduate at the end of Fall semester ’22, and she’ll move from being a paraprofessional to a teacher at Stillwater Middle School. In time, she’ll return to school to get her Master’s degree.

She offers the following advice for fellow non-traditional students: “Don’t be afraid or feel silly about going back to college.  I wish I had started earlier.  Take one summer class or one online class – go slow. Pick something aligned with your interests. 

“I’m so glad I chose Century College.  I just love it here!”

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