Brought To You By NSU; Written by Leah Jackson
It’s never too late to change directions. Kristen Townsend of Hornbeck is realizing a dream she’s had for years of finishing her college degree. Last fall at age 41, she decided it was time. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts with a minor in English and a 4.0 grade point average during Fall Commencement at Northwestern State University Dec. 14.
“I initially began my time at NSU at 16 years old. I was not prepared and didn’t handle college life as responsibly as I should have,” she said. “I did earn my associate of general studies degree when the program audit became available. It was always my dream to return to NSU and further my education.”
By 2022, her oldest child had graduated from NSU and the youngest still had some years ahead of him.
“I returned to school knowing I had an abysmal GPA to overcome while working full time as an insurance agent as well as being a wife and mother. I am proud to say that I have managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA for all four semesters while balancing the demands of career and life.”
During her time in college, she found a desire to share her love of academics and the joy of learning and decided to pursue the career path of education. This past summer she accepted a position as a classroom instructor for 6th grade science and social studies at Zwolle Elementary School.
“Changing careers and embarking on my first year of teaching while still in my final semesters was not easy, but it has been so worthwhile,” she said. “My schedule got very hectic, but I was determined to finish my last undergraduate semester with a 4.0 for the semester. I am thrilled to say I am on track to do so.
“NSU reignited my passion for all things English from literature to poetry and especially my newest loves folklore and southern culture and literature. This passion has consumed me enough that I have decided my academic pursuits are not over yet. I have applied to the graduate program at NSU where I will pursue a Master of Arts in English with a concentration in folklife and southern culture. It is my sincere desire to bring this love and knowledge into my own classroom.”
“She set her sights on proving herself as a scholar and extremely hard worker, which she has done by overcoming mistakes and grades of her youth,” said Townsend’s friend Julie Powell. “She has now set her sights on pursuing a master’s degree right here at NSU – the university that sparked her passion for the subjects. Her family will be in attendance to celebrate her accomplishments, including many Northwestern alumni.”
“I am blessed with the support of my children, husband, family, and amazing professors who have expressed their belief in me as both a student and person,” Townsend said. “They have encouraged me to never give up on my dreams, no matter my age and made me believe in my own academic abilities.”
Commencement exercises at NSU will be Dec. 13-14 in Prather Coliseum. Details about commencement are available at https://www.nsula.edu/commencement/.