Humans of Parkland: Kathy Hardison

Sierra Benson

Staff Writer20151130_125554


“I am a nurse’s aide and I’ve been working as a nurse’s aide for the past ten years. I’ve already graduated twice with degrees from Parkland: two associates, the first one was non-transferable and the second one is transferable, in science.

Ten years, no, thirty years ago I graduated from high school and I came to Parkland… changed majors a whole bunch of times. Then I went to SIU Edwardsville. I thought I had graduated from SIU Edwardsville, but I audited a class instead of taking it for credit, so I didn’t actually graduate. I walked through graduation ceremonies and everything thinking I had graduated.

My first husband and I were having marriage problems so we moved back here to the Champaign-Urbana area. I’m really from Cissna Park.

I never really finished my bachelor’s degree, so when my youngest daughter got into kindergarten I wanted to finish my education. But everything had expiration dates on it, all of my science classes had expiration dates, all of my math classes expired, everything expired.”

Hardison figured she could get a bachelor’s degree in general studies from Eastern, and a minor in business, all she needed was 33 credit hours with them. Right now she has 237 credit hours on the books, but they need to be with Eastern,

“I have one more class to graduate from Eastern in the spring, and they only offer it here at Parkland. But there’s a prerequisite, and the prerequisite is this math class that expired twenty-five years ago.”

Currently, Hardison is taking an advanced statistics class instead to get into the class she needs to graduate from Eastern. She says,

“I recommend to everybody to just finish your degree from the get-go and not let time lapse in between.”

Going to college and taking care of three kids at home is not cheap. Hardison works as a nurse’s aide three days a week and every other weekend.

“I work for Diversified Health Care Services and I go to people’s homes to take care of mostly elderly, but sometimes surgical patients as well. I usually work at 7 o’clock in the evening to 7o’clock in the morning. Sometimes I tack on one hour before my work and one hour after my work so it makes it 14-hour nights.

I sleep whenever I can, wherever I can, however I can. I put an air mattress in the back of my van for times when I work more than 4 or 5 days in a row. I live 45 minutes from [Champaign-Urbana], so I don’t have to drive 45 minutes home, and then 45 minutes back. I can sleep in the back of my van. I can get an extra hour and a half of sleep that way.

I still have three children at home. I have a senior in high school, she’s 17, she’s older, she can drive, she can help out. I also have a 14 year-old and 12 year-old. They’re old enough to fend for themselves.

They go to their dad’s every other weekend on my weekend of work. They also go to their dad’s every Thursday night and my mom’s every Wednesday night.

Everybody has a hard time giving up independence whether you’re a kid or an adult, and when you have to start asking for help it’s harder for some people compared to others.

I’m getting older; I’m already 52, so I’m too old to keep picking people up and pulling people out of bed. I figured I needed to move on to a desk job that is easier on my back.

My daughter’s a senior and she wants to go to college. I need to get done with paying for my education, so I can get a better job to pay for her education.

I think the older you are, and with kids, the more focused you are. You’re not just there to have fun… The first time when I was in college I had two boys. I had them when I was 20 and 21… The second one was due in November, I knew that was right before finals, and so that’s why I audited that class instead of taking it for credit. I didn’t know if I’d have any problems having the baby. I gave birth to him on Saturday and by Monday I was back in class.

Even with little kids at home you can still go to college. If you want to you’ll find a way, and if you’re looking for an excuse you’ll find a thousand excuses. You don’t have to be a straight A student or high class to go to college, you just have to want to.”