First-Generation College Student Turns Experiences into a Career

deanna kittilson

Deanna Kittilson didn’t expect to go back to college. She especially didn’t see herself starting a new degree program after age 50, 100% online. But living in Dunn Center, North Dakota, with a population under 300, her options for in-person classes were limited. 

Kittilson had moved back to North Dakota after serving in the Navy for seven years. There, she trained as an X-ray technician and earned some transferable college credits. After moving home, she settled down, got married and had two children, staying home to raise them for 21 years.

As her kids got older, Kittilson started looking into different jobs. While she knew she could get a job at the grocery store in town, she wanted something more. “If I was going to work, I wanted a job with substance. I wanted a career, something that could challenge me,” she said.

She had always been interested in the medical field, so she started looking for a degree that would allow her to enter the medical field as a civilian. Since she lived in such a rural area, she began looking for programs she could complete 100% online. She had considered Rasmussen University’s Health Sciences programs before but decided to officially inquire. “I tried other colleges, and it was very hard to get ahold of someone. But with Rasmussen, it wasn’t,” she said.

Kittilson chose the Health Information Technology degree program and got going. 

Not a quitter

Once Kittilson got started, she plowed right through. While she faced several challenges, including getting infected with COVID-19, she kept going. “I might cry, but I won’t quit,” she said.

She was proud of the way she gave her all. She was convinced that being an “older person,” as she said, gave her a leg up. She already knew how to motivate and coach herself. Plus, her previous experiences in the medical field gave her background knowledge she wouldn’t have had otherwise.

She pushed herself and excelled as an honor student. She made strong connections in her online classes as well. Two of her instructors became references for her that helped her snag her first job post-graduation.

Start of a career

While Kittilson was proud of her performance in the program, she was still initially nervous about getting a job without any previous experience working with medical records. 

While she was working on her resume one day, she got an email from Amy Ites, a senior career services advisor at Rasmussen. It included a job posting at the one clinic in Kildeer, seven miles away from Kittleson.

Kittilson was surprised something had opened up and applied immediately. She heard from the clinic the day before she went in as a patient to get surgery. While this wasn’t ideal timing, the clinic waited for her to recover and offered her the job.

Kittilson was excited to gain on-the-job experience working with medical records while helping out in any way she could—including driving the clinic’s van to pick patients up for appointments if needed.

While this job is different than any she’s had before, she was pleased her hard work had paid off.

Advice for potential students

Kittilson knows firsthand that going back to school isn’t easy, but she believes it’s worth it. “You just have to decide you want to do it and put the effort into it,” she says.

She encourages potential students to evaluate their goals, decide what they really want and go forward, knowing they’ll be fully supported at Rasmussen University. “They give you everything you need to succeed.”

About the author

Kirsten Slyter

Kirsten is a Content Writer at Collegis Education where she enjoys researching and writing on behalf of Rasmussen University. She understands the difference that education can make and hopes to inspire readers at every stage of their education journey.

writer

Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

logo-accreditation-acen logo-accreditation-ccne chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors-masters 0 Credits90 Credits180 Credits48 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTSStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREEStart HereMASTER'S DEGREEPURSUERSEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREEEnd HereMASTER'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors 0 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTS90 CreditsStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREE180 CreditsEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-msn chart-credential-laddering-nursing-programs chart-credential-laddering-nursing DNPMSNRN to BSNLPN to RN BridgeAccelerated BSNProfessional Nursing ADNPractical Nursing DiplomaPre-LicensurePost-Licensure icon-colored-outline-bank icon-colored-outline-certificate icon-colored-outline-circle-dollar-sign icon-colored-outline-folder-search icon-colored-outline-hand-heart icon-colored-outline-head-blocks icon-colored-outline-head-cog icon-colored-outline-head-heart icon-colored-outline-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-outline-hospital icon-colored-outline-lifelong-learning icon-colored-outline-light-bulb-analytics icon-colored-outline-location-pin icon-colored-outline-maginify-glass icon-colored-outline-magnifying-glass icon-colored-outline-monitor-healthcare icon-colored-outline-monitor-paper-search icon-colored-outline-nurse-rays icon-colored-outline-padlock-shield icon-colored-outline-person-presenter-screen icon-colored-outline-scales icon-colored-advance icon-colored-arrows-cross-curve icon-colored-briefcase-star icon-colored-build icon-colored-bulb-analytics icon-colored-certificate icon-colored-continual-development icon-colored-duo-chatbox icon-colored-folder-mortarboard icon-colored-forward-ribbon icon-colored-gears-clock icon-colored-globe-pen icon-colored-growth icon-colored-hand-bubble icon-colored-hand-stars icon-colored-hands-gear icon-colored-head-blocks icon-colored-head-cog icon-colored-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-hospital-building icon-colored-laptop-cbe-skyscraper icon-colored-laptop-checkmark icon-colored-laptop-webpage icon-colored-location-map icon-colored-location-pin icon-colored-monitor-paper-scan icon-colored-mortarboard-dollar icon-colored-national icon-colored-people-chat-bubbles icon-colored-person-cheer-star icon-colored-person-laptop-checkboxes icon-colored-person-screen-instructor icon-colored-person-whiteboard icon-colored-phone-chatbox icon-colored-police-light icon-colored-prep icon-colored-presenter icon-colored-regional icon-colored-save-time icon-colored-shirt-hat icon-colored-skyscraper icon-colored-state icon-colored-student-centered icon-colored-support icon-colored-world-experience icon-triangle-arrow-up-plant icon-triangle-calendar-pencil icon-triangle-clock-rotating-arrows icon-triangle-display-gears icon-triangle-hand-right-speech-bubble icon-triangle-laptop-coding-brackets icon-triangle-mortarboard icon-triangle-paper-ribbon icon-triangle-person-cheer-star icon-triangle-person-juggle icon-triangle-triple-people-chat-bubble icon-arrow icon-bank icon-camera icon-filter icon-general-chart icon-general-connect icon-general-degree icon-general-discuss icon-general-email icon-general-find icon-general-hat icon-general-heart icon-general-laptop-building icon-general-laptop icon-general-leader icon-general-map icon-general-money icon-general-paperwork icon-general-people icon-general-phone icon-general-speak-out icon-head-heart icon-info-circle icon-mail-forward icon-mglass icon-play-solid icon-quote-mark-left icon-quote-mark-right icon-scales icon-share-square-o icon-simple-chat icon-simple-desktop icon-simple-find icon-simple-hamburger icon-simple-phone icon-spinner icon-tag icon-testimonial-quotes icon-util-checkbox-white icon-util-checkbox icon-util-checked-white icon-util-checked icon-util-chevron-down icon-util-chevron-left icon-util-chevron-right icon-util-chevron-up icon-util-circle-arrow-down icon-util-circle-dot icon-util-language-switch icon-util-loading icon-util-open-window-button icon-util-open-window-link icon-util-pdf-button icon-util-pdf-link icon-util-refresh icon-util-x rebrand-arrows icon-modality-campus icon-modality-field icon-modality-online icon-modality-residential icon-social-facebook-square-colored icon-social-facebook-square icon-social-facebook icon-social-google-plus-square icon-social-google-plus icon-social-instagram icon-social-linkedin-square-colored icon-social-linkedin-square icon-social-linkedin icon-social-pinterest-p icon-social-twitter-square icon-social-twitter icon-social-youtube-play-colored icon-social-youtube-play ras-logo-flame ras-logo-horizontal ras-logo-stacked