Leader aims to leave Highline a better place

By Dylan You - Staff Reporter

Returning to school after a long career can be an arduous task, but for one student the experience has not only been liberating, it's been downright inspirational.

"I decided to come to Highline to finish getting my degree after working in the warehouse industry for 26 years," 47-year-old Julie Bradbury said. "I enjoyed the physical nature of the work, however I realized that I could not continue to do this type of work for much longer."

The decision to return to school was not an easy one. Because she was financially independent, over the age of 40, and hadn't been a student in 26 years, she doubted that she would fit in and keep up academically with the students who came straight from high school.

Despite her concerns, Bradbury found lots of help. Not only did she receive aid from resources such as the Access Services, TriO and the Center for Leadership and Services, she noticed the open-minded environment stimulated her personal growth.

"The acceptance I experienced here has allowed me to be myself and to establish connections to like-minded people I otherwise may have never met," she said. "It has given me the self confidence to be a successful student. Highline has provided me with opportunities to grow as a person and gain leadership skills. It has also opened doors to new career paths and provided networking opportunities that are useful both now and after I graduate."

Despite her busy life as a student, Bradbury wanted to give back to the Highline community. That's when she became the president of the Non-Traditional Students Club. The club finds ways to support students who are financially independent, have children or are older than the age of 30.

"I was hesitant at first, because I thought clubs were in the way," she said. "People think clubs are a distraction, but it's a way to stay in school, socialize, get together and help each other out."During meetings, members give each other advice such as how one should raise their children properly, how one can succeed academically, which classes one should choose to take and how one can ace a job interview.

They also discuss an array of topics such as upcoming events the club has planned, world news and updates on their personal lives.

"Any topic goes," Vice President Vanessa Primer said. "Whether it's club stuff, school stuff or politics."

Another way members help each other out is by sharing resources and connections that provide support in their academic or personal lives.

For example, one member told the other members how they could sign up for the TRiO Student Support Service program. The program helps low-income, first-generation students and people with disabilities succeed in college.

"As non-traditional students, we know there's more in the world than college," Bradbury said. "We build connections to help you when you leave here, we can get new connections to help Highline as well."

Although its members tend to be older, the club is seldom stale or sedentary. The members engage in a variety of activities.

The club organized a self-defense workshop, arranged a Halloween party and members attended the Vagina Monologues. Members have also found ways to volunteer for events that assist the underprivileged.

"We've volunteered for Habitat for Humanity," Bradbury said. "It was the first habitat build by a group of Highline students."

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that specializes in bringing families, volunteers and resources together in order to help build simple, decent, and affordable houses in low-income areas.

"We put in drainage pipes, removed trees and we put shovel after shovel of gravel around the house," she said.

The sense of joy and purpose from helping those in need was all the payment the members needed.

"It's weird. The amount you get back is so much more than what you gave," Bradbury said.

Their altruism doesn't end there. The members plan finding ways to minimize waste and helping financially struggling students at Highline by building a food compost and food bank; a few of the many steps the members intend to take in order to succeed in their mission of leaving Highline a better place.

"For me as a non-traditional student, my life experience influences my priorities and how I view the world around me," Bradbury said. "The time I have here on this earth is finite and I want to make the most out of it. To me, leaving a place or person in better circumstances than I found it is a way to give back to this world. Highline has given so much to me and others like me. My way of showing how much I appreciate this place is to help Highline continue to improve for the next generation of students."

Meetings will start again at Winter Quarter. For more information, students may contact Bradbury at lippazanna@students.highline.edu and Primer at vanessaprimer@students.highline.edu

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