A Lifelong Learner

This story originally appeared on ASU Online.

Kathryn Vennie believes that learning should be lifelong, which is why, at 77, she graduated from Arizona State University with a new degree and a new vision for the future. She was inspired to go back to school by the availability of an online Doctor of Behavioral Health program at a very accredited and high ranking university and by the leadership and vision of Dr. Crow.

Her doctoral degree process was much different than previous education experiences since it was fully online, but with the support and resources available through ASU Online, and occasional technology assistance from her grandkids, she was easily able to move through the program.

Online learning was relatively new to Kathryn when she started the program, she was a bit hesitant about being so remote but she never felt disconnected from classmates or faculty.

“My impression of online programs in the past and those that friends have taken was a very isolated impression,” she said, “but I immediately found out with ASU that was not the case, much interaction was encouraged among classmates and faculty.”

She made an effort to visit campus and meet her professors and classmates in person a few times during the course of her studies. Kathryn’s advice to people considering an online degree with ASU.

“There is such tremendous innovation at ASU, so much going on that addresses what's going on in the world so if you are a student or prospective student who is really engaged in current events or interested in current problems or research, I would say go now,” she said.

She advises students to be motivated and organized to be successful in the online format.

Kathryn Vennie and President Michael CrowKathryn took advantage of the many resources available to her in, and out of the classroom; webinars, conferences, ASU Libraries and chatbox. She was active in her own education, reaching out directly to Dr. Crow, President of ASU, leading to a meet-and-greet with him when she traveled to Arizona for graduation. She still communicates with her classmates and professors weekly and her connection to ASU remains strong.

ASU Online doctoral student, Kathryn Vennie, meets with ASU President Dr. Michael Crow

Kathryn enrolled in the program with a goal of utilizing her new learning to teach and train other primary care and behavioral healthcare personnel to work together in new and efficient ways. She hopes that allowing immediate access to strong behavioral healthcare support will change many lives and reduce the impact of the many behaviorally associated chronic diseases and conditions that overwhelm us today. With this mission in mind, Kathryn already met local hospital leaders about medical personnel in clinics working with integrated behavioral health professionals.

While some people may think they are too old to pursue higher education, Kathryn advises that you are never too old to further your education and make strides in professional development. She is still actively involved in her profession and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.