First-Generation Student and Single Father Graduates with Honors

First-Generation Student and Single Father Graduates with Honors

David Plowman had tried to go back to school before. Twice he started, and twice life got in the way. As a first-generation student, the pressure to succeed and the expectation that he never would weighed heavy. Graduating felt like a dream that would always be too far away. 

Still, he tried one more time. 

The Road to Here 

David had always wanted to go back to school and finish his degree. From the time he was young, he had known he wanted to work with people. The inspiration came from his grandmother, who was a critical part of his life from ages 8–18. She saw his heart and encouraged him to use his passion to help people. 

Getting there was a different challenge. 

David is the parent to four children (the second oldest is pictured with him above). He currently raises his youngest son in Brainerd, and the duo does almost everything together. David wanted to get his degree for his kids, but his son was one of the main reasons college felt impossible. As a single parent working full time, he could not commit to the rigor of a regular college schedule. David was stuck.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, David reevaluated his life and found himself asking, “What would I do if I were to die from this? What would I regret?” The answer: “Not finishing my degree.” 

From there, David stepped into action. 

The Balance

David chose to pursue a degree through the Human Resources program at Rasmussen. The rest of the elements in his life, taking care of his son and his full-time job, had not gone away. How could he do all three without dropping the ball in some areas? 

David chose to take his courses fully online through Rasmussen. This allowed him to wake his son up every morning, work throughout the day, spend the evening with his son, put him to bed and study late into the night. The system was an exhausting one, but it worked. 

When asked what it looked like to balance all those pieces, David shared the reason it was possible at all was because he didn’t do it alone. “I had to be sure to use my resources.” 

In asking for help, David made his dream possible, feasible even. 

The Finish Line 

The road wasn’t without its obstacles. 

The duality of school and life simultaneously wasn’t easy. Having started his degree twice before and never reaching the finish line, David wondered if this time was any different. His first steps were solid, but could he continue to take them?

Instead of expecting himself to handle it alone, David continued to ask for help. This carried him forward. 

David recalls bringing an issue with a class to his academic advisor. His advisor took it to the dean of the department, and together, they navigated the conversation. The issue was resolved, and David was one step closer to the home stretch. 

He recalls being overwhelmingly grateful for the support of the Rasmussen faculty and staff. He continued to navigate the fragile balance of family and school, and knowing that he was backed by the Rasmussen community was a relief. 

Eighteen months after starting*, David finished his degree in December of 2021. He had finally crossed that finish line. The dream that once seemed so unattainable had been reached!

To top it off, the faculty and staff at the Rasmussen St. Cloud campus were incredibly impressed with his story and asked him to give the student speech for the spring ceremony. 

Standing in front of the Rasmussen Class of 2022, he shared these words of wisdom, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” 

David lives by this. 

To Others Like David 

Looking back on his time at Rasmussen, David did not highlight academic achievements or good grades. Instead, when asked what he was most proud of he pointed to the challenges, knowing he had received his degree while being a single parent and working full-time made the accomplishment even more impressive. 

David is proof that chasing your big impossible dreams is worth the effort. 

The road is long and not without challenges, but it is doable. As David learned, you don’t have to accomplish it on your own. Rely on the support of those around you and be willing to admit when you need help. 

Ask yourself as David once did, “What would I regret?” 

Starting is just a step away. 

If you want to learn more about Rasmussen’s online programs or specifically the Human Resources program at Rasmussen, visit our website for information about applying. 

*Disclosure: Completion time is dependent on the transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term. 

About the author

Erin DeFrance

Erin is a copywriting intern at Collegis Education. She researches and writes articles on behalf of Rasmussen University to inform and encourage students as they begin their higher education journey.

Erin DeFrance

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