Mother and daughter Kathy and Winter Dewey are currently enrolled in Lake Superior College’s Administrative Office Specialist AAS, and they both will graduate from the program in May 2023.
“There are so many bonds that bring a mother and daughter together. I have seen Kathy and Winter work together, laugh together, and challenge each other,” said LSC faculty Dianne Mencel. “As they continue their new adventures, I am sure they will always remember their time at LSC. As I think back, they will always warm my heart for their zealous attitudes toward life, family, and education.”
We caught up with Kathy and Winter to learn more about their journey at LSC and their plans for the future.
LSC: Your experience of going through the Administrative Office Specialist program together is so unique! Tell us a little about your background, family and where you’re from.
I grew up in this area—Clover Valley and then Two Harbors, MN. I have held various jobs throughout my life while raising two beautiful stepdaughters and three with my husband, Shawn.
I was born and raised in Two Harbors, where I still live today. After I graduated high school in 2008, I started taking classes at LSC to be a nurse, but shortly after starting college, I determined that was not the right path for me. I continued working as a restaurant server, and as more time passed, the chances I would ever go back to school kept getting smaller. But one day, my mom was looking into going back to school for a career change, so we started looking at programs together and decided to go on this journey together.
LSC: What factors led you to choose Lake Superior College?
In 2017 I began teaching preschool in a privately-owned childcare center, which I absolutely loved. However, after thinking long-term, I realized I needed some type of work that offered benefits, like health care. I also wanted my daughter to continue her education, and we decided to support each other and enroll together!
I think there were a few factors that led me to choose LSC. The biggest reason is because of the Administrative Office program LSC offers. It seemed to be the perfect program for what I was looking for. Another factor is the location of the school. Even though I wanted to take all my classes online, I felt it would be nice to have the school close to home if I ever needed to go to the campus. The last factor is the price! Being a single mom who started college later than many people, I did not want to graduate with a significant amount of debt.
LSC: What led you to make the important decision to pursue a degree?
Aside from an online Child Development Associate Certificate, I never went to college. My husband is ten years away from retirement hopes, and I still have younger children to care for. My biggest concern is working somewhere that offers affordable health care for my family. I felt that a career in office administration could offer me many employment avenues. LSC, and specifically Dianne Mencel, has been full of encouragement. When I began, I planned on getting my Office Certificate and taking my chances at a job from there. Dianne built up my and my daughter’s confidence so dramatically that we are now a semester away from getting our AAS, and I could not be happier that our journey led us here together.
My biggest concern that led me to pursue a degree was that I wanted to do more with my life than work in a restaurant until I retire. Not that there is anything wrong with being a server, I actually make really good money doing that. But I was at the point in my life where I was feeling stuck, and I needed a change. LSC has satisfied that concern by making me feel like I’m moving up in life. The Administrative Office Specialist program has made me feel confident and prepared to work in an office setting.
LSC: Did the pandemic affect your educational path in any way?
When the pandemic hit, I realized that the world will always need someone to help keep things organized. I enjoy computers, typing, filing, etc., and when things were shut down and I was home, it allowed me time at home to begin the program. If I had still been working, I may not have had the faith I could juggle school and work.
I think the pandemic affected the program I chose to enroll in. I was looking at programs in the summer of 2020. Because so many people were starting to work remotely over Zoom, it seemed like a program that suited what the business world was turning into.
LSC: What is your fondest memory of LSC so far?
My fondest memory may be the first semester. All of the uncertainty and nerves can be exhilarating. I experienced many “firsts.” Being in college, meeting over zoom, interacting with students half my age as my peers, and trying to find a way for them to relate to me. It was fantastic, hilarious, and truly life-changing. The best part of it all was that I had my daughter right by my side. Literally, because she lives with me!
My fondest memory about LSC is definitely the final project I worked on for my Business Presentations class. We had to come up with an entertainment presentation as a group. We decided to do a skit that was somewhat of a spin-off of the children’s TV show “Paw Patrol.” There were five of us in the class, and we all picked what kind of dog we would be and created a script. It felt like we were on Saturday Night Live. It was so much fun!
LSC: What is next for you both in terms of your career or education plans?
This past year, I have stepped down from teaching and became the Administrative Assistant at The First Baptist Church of Two Harbors. I also recently accepted a position at the Two Harbors High School as the Due Process Coordinator. I would love to be able to further my education in the future.
After I graduate this May, I will start looking for administrative jobs in the area. I’m not 100% sure of the exact job or company I want to work for, but I am excited to see what is out there and start something new in my life.
LSC: During your time here at LSC, what have you learned about yourselves and each other?
I have learned it is never too late to better yourself. Educationally, emotionally, or spiritually, there is always room for improvement.
Winter has proven me right! I always knew she had what it takes to succeed, and I have enjoyed watching her confidence grow and shine through these past couple of years. She is amazing!
During my time at LSC, I have learned that I have a strong desire to succeed and push myself to do my best to reach my goals. Before I started classes, I was so scared that I would not get good grades because it had been so long since I even thought about school, let alone did any schooling. But as my first weeks of school passed, I realized I could do it. Not only was I doing it, but I was getting all A’s. I am incredibly proud of myself for maintaining a 4.0 GPA the whole time I have been in my program! Something I learned about my mom is that we have strengths in different areas. We used that to help us and motivate each other to keep moving forward. Taking classes together created this amazing bonding experience and has made us much closer! She is my mom, but she is also my friend and classmate.