Ruth Nelson, supervisor at Central Services in WSU’s
Veterinary Teaching Hospital, will graduate on
Saturday with a degree in English with a creative
writing option. (Photo by Shelly Hanks, WSU Photo Services)
 
PULLMAN, Wash. – Ruth Nelson will be the third person in her family to get a college degree.
 
She follows in the footsteps of her dad and older brother, Eli, both of whom not only returned as adults to obtain degrees, but earned them in majors unrelated to their professions.
 
“It seems to be a pattern in my family,” Nelson said with a laugh.
 
When Nelson was in middle school, her father moved the family from Colville to Pullman to pursue a college degree and broaden his employment opportunities. After graduation, he moved the family back to Colville – in Nelson’s senior year of high school.
 
Thinking she wanted to be a veterinarian, Nelson got a job at the Colville Veterinary Clinic while attending community college. She received her AA degree and came to WSU in 2001 to continue her education.
 
Nelson admits that she was not a dedicated student and came to college because it was the thing you were supposed to do. That and the fact that she didn’t love her major led her to leave college.
 
She was fortunate to get a full time job in the Central Services unit in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and when her supervisor left she assumed those duties.
 
About four years ago, Nelson got the urge to try school again. No longer interested in the detailed learning in the sciences, she decided to try her hand at English and found that she enjoyed the creativity.
 
This time around, Nelson said, she was more focused on learning, and her experience in the working world made her appreciate the process.
 
She is quick to credit her supervisor and fellow workers for their understanding and assistance. Without them it would have been more difficult to take two classes a semester and work full time, she said.
 
The accomplishment of getting her degree and paying off her debt has made her believe she can do anything.
 
Not content with one degree, Nelson already has applied and been accepted into another bachelor’s program – digital technology and culture. She also is considering trying her hand at engineering classes.
 
Why not? The program at WSU that allows employees to take classes is like “getting free money,” she said. Nelson doesn’t understand why more people don’t take advantage of the opportunity.