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Elsa's On Track Story

There's nothing like working at a university to inspire educational dreams. Elsa Toburen, originally from Peru, is an administrative officer at K-State's Food Science Institute. After working with students to help them achieve their goals through earning their bachelor's degrees, Elsa decided it was her turn to get her education back on track.

"I was inspired by my faculty and my boss, and by seeing the students come and go with their degrees," Elsa said. "Then I found out about the tuition reimbursement and scholarship opportunities and I decided it was time to get it done. I had encouragement from my coworkers and my family. Working with people with bachelor's and master's degrees, they kind of encourage you [to earn a degree]. They say, 'You can do it!'"

Elsa is currently getting her bachelor's degree in family studies and human services, which helps her in working with students at the Food Science Institute and more effectively helping them. Going back to school, especially after some time has passed, can be a difficult choice to make, as Elsa experienced.

"Back home in Peru, I went to secretarial school, and that was all the education I had. It was a technical degree, so when I decided to go to school, I had to start from zero. But that was okay because I knew I could do it," Elsa said. "I have been very determined and since then I haven't stopped."

Elsa says her education helps enhance her work through courses that are relatable to what she is doing. Writing, communication and math skills help with her accounting responsibilities. She has also found that the English and writing classes for her bachelor's degree have helped her with the language skills she uses every day in her job that could be a challenge for people for whom English is a second language.

"I feel great to be able to help my daughter now that she's in junior high, so when she comes to me with algebra questions, I think 'Oh, I can do that! I took that class!' My whole family sits around the table doing homework together."

Along with raising a family of two kids, working full time, teaching classes at UFM Community Learning Center, and going to school, Elsa says she has recently found the benefit of taking distance courses.

"This semester I decided I was ready for a distance class," Elsa said. "I think if you have a desire to succeed, maybe get another degree or finish your degree, it's hard, but as long as you are able to manage your time and have some help from your loved ones, go for it! K-State gives you great flexibility. I am excited. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. K-State has opened a lot of doors for me, and I can't wait to see what can happen when I'm done."

Elsa is considering getting her master's degree in academic advising after she completes her bachelor's.

"I would love to advise students," she said. "I love interacting with students, and I know I can get that degree here at K-State with online education. I'm doing this for not only me, but for my kids. I want to give them a better life. And I think they are encouraged and inspired by me," said Elsa.

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