San Jacinto College alumnus Betty Hechler and her granddaughter Lauren Lowe share many similarities. They both possess a great sense of humor, natural artistic talent, and were non-traditional students at the College.
Hechler started taking courses at San Jacinto College North Campus in 1976 as a hobby, enrolling in classes that piqued her interest, like botany and art.
"I loved taking different classes at the college and just learning about new subjects. I took all of the fun courses," Hechler said. "Once I had taken a few jobs that were looking for computer skills, I thought about seriously pursuing my degree."
As a student, Hechler was a member of Phi Theta Kappa and the Spanish club.
"My Spanish teacher, Jane Strange, made learning fun," said Hechler. "We tried authentic Mexican foods, and she exposed us to so much culture."
After earning her associate degree, Hechler went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in history from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
"If you are thinking of returning to school for a degree, don't wait. Do it now," said Hechler. "Don't worry about whether or not you are capable of doing it, because you are."
Hechler's granddaughter took this advice to heart in 2018 as she returned to school to upskill in the field of art and design. Originally earning her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas, she saw a hole in her skill set when it came to video and graphic design.
"About two years of working part time as a copy editor, I realized my degree was more or less obsolete. That was a painful realization," said Lowe. "I could either change directions and focus on writing, or I could go back to school."
Lowe shortly after found herself immersed in the College's art and design technical program at the South Campus and as the president of the campus' Creative Collective.
"As I started the program, I realized that graphic design and marketing were my passions," said Lowe. "The instructors were encouraging and even urged me to apply for an internship with the College."
Lowe secured the internship in early 2019, and by fall of that year, she was working full time as a digital media coordinator on the College's external relations team.
Both Lowe and Hechler saw an opportunity to reskill and upskill to make themselves more marketable in a world that values technical prowess. As for their similarities?
"I am not surprised at all that we are so similar," Lowe said. "We've always been close, and I'm so proud of her for paving the way for those who came behind her."