Kayla Kelly had it all figured out. Until she didn’t.

She’d been working with adults with intellectual disabilities when she found herself at a critical junction in her career and life.

“I have a knack for caring for people,” she said. “I’m good at adjusting the environment for them and helping with accommodations, and I truly love it—I knew I wanted to go a step further.”

Kelly applied for jobs, but she wasn’t getting calls back. “That was very strange,” she said, “I’ve never not gotten a call back. So I prayed about it and decided to take a career test online.” When Kelly learned about Union College’s Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, she made the decision to go back to college.

It was and wasn’t an easy choice. She wanted a fresh start, and the degree fit her perfectly, but returning to school was daunting. “I have full-time responsibilities and full-time bills,” she said. “I knew college would be more difficult at 32 than it was at 18. But I applied anyway.”

As soon as her acceptance letter arrived, so did the job offers—she got return calls for all of the positions she’d wanted. Instead, she took a chance on herself and enrolled at Union despite her uncertainty.

“I was looking for reasons to bail out because I didn’t see any true path for me to do it successfully,” she said. “But I have been absolutely blessed to have Taryn Rouse as my life coach.”

Union’s Student Success Center provides coaching, tutoring, and other assistance for incoming students. “Kayla’s story inspired me,” said Rouse. “She’s coming back into a different world, and I was happy to be there to balance her adult life with college. Her needs were a little different, but we were able to figure out a plan even though classes are set at specific times that don’t always work with adult work schedules.” They made Kelly’s schedule work, and Rouse signed Kelly up for tutoring so she wouldn’t feel alone academically.

Kelly says the Student Success Center has made all the difference for her. “Before I knew what I needed, Taryn alleviated my fears by providing a plethora of resources. I feel extremely supported. I don’t think I could have gone in with as much confidence as I did if I hadn’t had people setting me up to succeed from the first day. Union transformed my experience before I even started.”

 “It is scary going back to college as an adult, and there’s a lot of stigma around starting something new,” said Kelly. “But if God is calling me to do it, He will absolutely provide a way. I believe He did that with Taryn, the Student Success Center, and Union College. It’s never too late to start something new.”