Melissa Euler has spent nearly 20 years working in the financial industry — first as a teller with several banking institutions, and now as a consumer loan specialist for Community State Bank in Union Grove, Wisconsin.
She loves the industry and her job, but something was missing. She wanted her bachelor’s degree.
“I knew I wanted a business degree, because it leads to new opportunities,” she explains. She had taken a few college courses after graduating from high school back in 1998, but she soon realized she needed a full-time job for the benefits and paycheck. “After many years of feeling like something was missing, I chose to go back to school.”
Melissa graduated from Carthage in 2016 with a bachelor of arts degree in management and marketing — a double major worth every late night studying.
“The best day was Commencement Day,” she says. “After 3-1/2 years, I finally made it. All the hard work, the late nights studying, and juggling work and school finally paid off.
“Would I do anything differently? No,” she says now. “Would I do it again? Absolutely. The price one pays for an education is never too much. Life is short, and all of us should follow our dreams, no matter how big or small some may think they are. What matters is that you decide what you do with your life. Getting your education is your first step, and Carthage is a great school to have your dreams made.”
What made you choose to study at Carthage?
“I chose Carthage because of its reputation and curriculum for adult students. Carthage is an amazing school, from the advisors, to the professors, and to your fellow students. The courses offered by the adult ed program fit my life. Being able to see myself and my fellow students grow along the way made it all worth it.”
What campus resources were most helpful to you?
“The Writing Center and Career Services were most helpful to me. Use the Writing Center for all of your papers; this will help you in the long term to become a better writer. They assist you from your draft all the way to your final paper, giving you great insight on why you should make changes.”
“Career Services is another very useful tool available to students,” Melissa continues. Career Services will help you perfect your resume, find career opportunities, and prepare for interviews with tips and mock interviews. “Those are great tools both during and after school.”
What is your favorite spot on campus?
“My favorite spot on campus is anywhere I can sit and look out at Lake Michigan. This was mostly by Kissing Rock or outside of the David A. Straz, Jr. Center, sitting on a bench when I made the time between classes. For some reason, I have always loved water. It has always been a calming source for me, whether it’s a lake, a river, a waterfall, an ocean, or rain falling. All of these sounds — from the calming waves of a lake or river, to the sounds of crashing ocean waves against the shore, to the sound of a hard rain fall — make me calm and relaxed. Being calm and relaxed got me through some long days and nights of studying.”
With all the online degree programs available today, why did you choose Carthage?
“Before I transferred to Carthage, I was used to taking several online courses. However, as wonderful as those are, it is always great to have a face-to-face course so you can interact with peers, professors, and other students. When you are taking online classes, you miss out on some great interaction, different ways to do and think about things, and how each person brings their own unique skills to class.”
How did you juggle course work with your other responsibilities?
“When it comes to juggling school, work, and outside activities, you just need to prioritize your schedule and assignments,” Melissa says.
She used her lunch hours to study, take tests, or grab a quick nap for a boost of energy. “I also used that time to reflect on what I had completed so far, and what still needed to be done. If there was a paper due, I worked extra hard on that and had to put my outside life on hold for the time being. Finishing my degree was my priority. If that meant putting my friends second and school first, that is what I needed to do during that time.
“I always say, ‘Work hard to play hard’ in order to achieve what you want in life,” she continues. “Even on my travels while I was attending classes, I used my time on the airplane or beach time to complete assignments and contact colleagues. If you put your heart in all you do, you will have the feeling of achievement and relief that you made it, and you can move forward to your next course or assignment. Before you know it, graduation day has arrived!”
“My goal is to complete my MBA with an emphasis on human resource management. I have always loved working with and helping people achieve their work goals. The HR emphasis will guide me to helping others in an organizational setting, and give me the tools and confidence to be a great role model and mentor to colleagues.
“I am thrilled, nervous, and overwhelmed, but I know achieving my MBA will make me a better leader and mentor for others. I look forward to this new challenge.”
“My favorite professor was Mr. Gillespie. Not only is he a great teacher, he is a great man. He is kind, and he really cares that his students do the best they can. He works with you on a personal level to make sure you understand a topic. He is genuinely concerned with all of his students’ learning, so you get the most bang for your buck in your Carthage education.”
“My favorite classes were the human resources courses. I love helping and working with people. I love to teach people new things and guide them into what they feel best suits them. I like to get people out of their comfort zones and trying new things.
“I try to tell others to not be afraid to fail at something. At least you can say that you tried it and you don’t like it. It is a learning tool to see you want to do and what you can do.”
“The toughest classes for me were the religion courses. I was not raised in a family that attended church, unless it was for a wedding or a funeral, so it was hard to understand some of the verses and books of the Bible and other discussions in those courses.”
She got through it by asking questions in class, talking to friends to get a better perspective, and asking questions of her professors and tutors after class.
Biggest surprise so far?
“The biggest surprise is seeing yourself develop and grow into this person who can do anything, as long as you put your heart and mind into it.”
Advice for other students considering your major
“My advice is to GO! Never feel or think that you are too young or too old to achieve your dream of getting a college degree. If you feel it is something you want to pursue, do it. Life is way too short for any of us in this world to not shoot for the stars. Your journey will most definitely be what seems like a long and difficult process, but it really is worth it. It really is easy to do — as long as you put your heart and mind into it.”
You might need to take a break at some point, and that’s OK, she says.
“I was one who had to take a couple of breaks between sessions. For me, I knew my mind and heart just needed a break. I told myself, ‘It’s OK,’ and then went full-force until the end. I was working full time and had a full-time course load. You just need to take time to breathe.”
Before you know it, it will be your turn to cross the stage and receive your diploma, she said. “You realize that you will be graduating, and you know that memories were created and more will follow. The day I got to walk across that stage at graduation was a day I will cherish forever, and you will, too. Cherish everything you do in your days at Carthage. Have fun and good luck!”