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Graduate Essays - Ruthann Schatz: ECC helped me achieve a goal a lifetime in the making

Graduation Cap

A few ECC graduates share what this achievement means to them

Tags: Commencement | Graduation Essays
Published 12/12/2022
Elgin Community College December 2022 graduate Ruthann Schatz

Elgin Community College December 2022 graduate Ruthann Schatz

I tried college right after high school, but life got in the way. Instead, I joined the Air Force and spent six years learning about myself and becoming a better person. I met my husband during my service, and many years later, we were blessed with a son.

Life moved on; I worked as a billing specialist and was an active parent with my son’s Cub Scout pack. I had been in scouts before as a Girl Scout and an Explorer Scout, so returning to the scouting rank with my son, I was thrilled. I also became involved at the district level, teaching new volunteers, and became a merit badge counselor to assist scouts in earning their badges. Volunteering in the Boy Scouts of America has been challenging and rewarding, and my life was fulfilling.  

In October 2019, my son started his senior year at South Elgin High School and enrolled in the Dual Credit program at Elgin Community College. At that point, he challenged me to finish college. I thought long and hard, doubting myself if I could handle this. I had just accepted the new position in scouting as the Assistant District Commissioner and was transitioning into this new role. While I was comfortable with my path, a college degree had always been in the back of my mind. I accepted my son’s challenge, so I took all the necessary tests to enroll and started my educational journey in January 2020.

I was very nervous going to class for the first time, seeing that I was much older (50+) than the students in my English class. But my classmates thought nothing of it, and my instructor was reassuring. Then in March 2020, COVID hit, and I was lost again. I was not adept at using the computer for more than just Word, PowerPoint, and a few other applications, so how would I handle classes via computer? Plus, scouting took a huge hit, and I now had to learn how to run meetings through Skype.

There was so much going on that I was starting to doubt myself. I kept asking myself, could I accomplish this goal virtually? I was nervous and scared, but my family was behind me, always offering encouragement. The homework would get overwhelming, and I was staying up late at night finishing my English papers, but I finished and received my first A ever in college. I did not stop there; I signed up to take summer classes (via zoom), then onto fall classes (via zoom). I became comfortable taking classes online and took the rest of my classes in that format.

And here I am; I did it! I finished the challenge and will receive my associate in fine arts two weeks before I turn 60 (SHH!). It is very bittersweet; as proud as I am to have accomplished my goal, I have enjoyed my time at ECC and don't want to see it end. I will be taking the exam to obtain my paraeducator license and work in schools, assisting struggling youth so that they can accomplish anything.

I want to thank all the professors here at ECC, especially my English professor, who saw that I was nervous and scared but kept pushing me forward. I also want to thank my tutors; I cannot say enough about the tutors here at ECC, who assisted me immensely. Most of all to my husband and son for their love, understanding, and encouragement; I could not have done this without you.


Ruthann Schatz ‘22

Associate in Fine Arts

South Elgin, Ill.