Earning a college degree can be challenging for non-traditional learners who balance a job, family duties and their course work.

Joseph Hans, a student in the College of Education and Human Development, has plenty of first-hand experience with those challenges.

“I attended UofL for two semesters straight out of high school in the mid-1980s. The less said about that time, the better,” said Hans.

It’s a story many students know well — the temporary break made permanent as life gets in the way.

And life did get in the way. Hans got married, started a family, learned new skills on the job and took UofL classes on and off for many years.

It was a struggle. But he never gave up.

A turning point came in 2011 when Hans finished his general education requirements and turned to CEHD’s Matt Bergman for help on what to do next.

Bergman told him about CEHD’s organizational leadership and learning degree, which provides college credit for workplace experience. Hans was elated to learn that he could receive up to 45 hours towards his degree.

“I liked the overall approach. The professors were real-world practitioners, the students were all adult learners and the classes used off-campus facilities and after-work hours,” said Hans.

Now, Hans is on course to graduate cum laude in August at the age of 51. He is employed by Humana, where he says his managers have been more than willing to accommodate his busy schedule.

Hans credits his perseverance not only to his personal drive, but also to those who encouraged him.

“The standout professors, in my experience, in the program include Cathy Avdevich, Matt Bergman, Ray Klein, and Erin Mires. Amber Roberts, currently the program advisor, was also a huge help in getting me back in this past fall.”

After he earns his degree, Hans hopes to obtain a full-time marketing position with Humana.