Nontraditional at MessiahAfter 35 years in the workforce, Karla DeJesus ’15 had to make a decision: keep working for four more years to get full retirement benefits or attend Messiah College?
DeJesus first connected with Messiah through the Hoverter Course. The program, sponsored by Messiah’s Center for Public Humanities, provides access to higher education to those whose circumstances have prevented them from attending college previously. It equips students with basic liberal arts skills, encouraging them to pursue college-level studies.
And for DeJesus, who participated in the program as a way to occupy her mind following the death of her 29-year-old son, the experience was positive. “The course did exactly what I was hoping it would do. It provoked thought, and it put me back in a learning environment,” she said.
Jean Corey, director of the Hoverter Course, reflected on DeJesus’ success. “I first met Karla when I was teaching Writing Matters for the Hoverter course,” said Corey. “Karla’s enthusiasm and curiosity were infectious and contributed much to the energy and engagement of the rest of the class.”
Encouraged by her success in the program, DeJesus made the difficult decision to take an early retirement and pursue her degree at Messiah. She will graduate in December with a double major in broadcasting (focusing on radio production) and peace and conflict studies — two areas she hopes to combine in a future business venture.
“I want to start my own Internet radio station that serves Harrisburg,” said DeJesus. “I want to bring conversation on mediation, peace and bullying along with other topics that get to the heart of issues in the city.”Karla DeJesus
After decades in an office, returning to the classroom was a major change for DeJesus, but she is confident in her decision.
“I came to an environment where I completely stood out, not by race or color, but by age and by students in a classroom. It was a total culture shock. I’ve made a commitment to be a tool of reconciliation and to demonstrate how you carry it forward. I try to use that in classes, and I try to use that in other students’ lives: Serve as a voice of diversity.”Karla DeJesus