Victoria native Alexandra Deckelmann isn't wasting one minute of making up for lost time. After completing her GED last year, she enrolled in VC's college-level courses and is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree.
Since then, she earned a $1,000 scholarship in the school's "What's Your Story?" essay contest, landed a student job as an enrollment guide and, most recently, joined VC's Zeta Gamma chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.
"I started doing this for my son, Landon, who is nine," she said. "He was struggling with getting work turned in on time in his third-grade class. I told him we were going to do our homework together. He knew that if I can do it, he can do it, and that if he can do it, I can do it.
"Once I got to college, I became more on the selfish side. It wasn't just for him anymore – it was for me. This is making me a better person all the way around."
Deckelmann started in a student worker position in January. In mid-July, she moved into her current role as a part-time enrollment guide.
"I've helped calm down a bunch of scared new students," she said. "I ask them, 'Why are you scared?' They think they're so old, and they're 25. I tell them, 'I am 34, and I just started. I'm a parent, too.'
"I remind them of all of our resources, including mental health assistance and our Caring Campus environment. I will walk them wherever they want to go and show them."
Deckelmann dropped out of high school as her parents went through a divorce when she was 15. She tried to go back to school for a GED twice, but did not finish either time.
"This past year was a much different situation with much better relationships and a much better support system," she said. "That made me want to go back. The job that I had at the time was mentally destroying me."
Determined to make the third time the charm, Deckelmann took free GED preparation courses at VC's Continuing Education Building at night after working 10 hours a day. She enrolled in college-level courses in Fall 2022.
"It feels so good," she said. "When I got the email that I was accepted to Victoria College, I went to the bathroom and bawled my eyes out."
Last December, Deckelmann was one of 24 VC students inducted into the National Adult Education Honor Society for her work in the adult education courses.
"That was so cool," she said. "I didn't do high school, so there was no National Junior Honor Society. The fact I got to experience the National Adult Education Honor Society was really cool for me. It made me want to keep going."
Deckelmann was recently one of four winners of the "What's Your Story?" essay contest.
"I didn't realize that my story is beneficial to other people," she said. "Ever since I submitted my story, people who reviewed it contacted me to say that it's inspiring. That essay was the start of me being more open about my story to anyone who asked."
After starting her foray into higher education with a business focus, Deckelmann switched to psychology after going to work for VC. She plans to see it through until she has a master's degree, and possibly a doctoral degree, in hand.
"Being at the college, you get to research more things and have more opportunities," she said. "I realized I like doing work with the college. I like the higher education aspect of it, so I wanted to switch to psychology and have a wider range of options.
"My goal for any job I've had is to keep climbing the ladder until I can't climb it anymore. I like the Victoria College environment, from the professors to the custodians to the staff, I like everybody. I would like to see how far I can go here."