Megan Fritz credits River Valley Community College (RVCC) with restoring her self-confidence decades after an unsuccessful college experience. Following the traditional route, Megan headed straight to college after finishing high school. She didn’t know what she wanted to do and enrolled in a degree program that left her uninspired. She ended up dropping out of college in 1998, with no degree to show for her efforts.
Three children and almost 20 years later, she was at a crossroads. Megan devoted herself to educating her kids, but as they grew older, she felt she could no longer meet their educational needs. In 2016, she enrolled her children in public school, which gave her the time to consider a new path in life.
“I always had the drive to keep learning and wanted to do something important and valuable, but I was afraid of failure. As a homeschooling mom for 13 years, I had a lot of anxiety about going back to school, but I decided to at least give it a try,” she explains.
In 2018, Megan registered at River Valley Community College in Keene. She chose RVCC for many reasons, among them the flexibility and convenience that it provided for her to resume her education. “Everything is in one building; classes are small, and most people are non-traditional students like me. Going back as an older adult is an anxiety-producing, but RVCC really reduced that anxiety.”
Megan attributes the welcoming environment for non-traditional learners to the professors at RVCC, commenting that “they are there because they have a special interest in educating people who need some encouragement and extra care.”
Megan signed up for liberal arts classes but – unlike her previous college experience – this time she had a passion and a mission. After one of her children came out as transgender, Megan started to question her own gender identity. In a college composition course, she had the opportunity to explore LGBTQIA+ rights through an intersex rights-focused paper. The paper helped Megan, who identifies as queer and agender and uses the pronouns she/they, decide on an academic path forward in gender studies and healthcare rights.
In December 2020, she earned a Liberal Arts degree from RVCC and seamlessly transferred to Keene State College (KSC) to continue her education toward a bachelor’s degree. “It was a very streamlined process,” Megan says. She comments that the application fee to Keene State was waived, and acceptance was guaranteed. “I didn’t even have to write an application essay!”
All of Megan’s credits were transferred from RVCC to KSC and some of her sociology classes even counted toward upper-level course credits. In May 2023, Megan graduated from KSC with a bachelor’s degree in Women and Gender Studies and a minor in Sociology. While at Keene State, she helped establish Wise Owls, a group for non-traditional students. Wise Owls was officially recognized as a student group in fall 2022 and Megan was elected vice president of the organization. One of her first initiatives was to strengthen connections between RVCC and KSC through events that bring together potential transfer students and KSC transfer advisors. She explains that “we wanted an easy way for RVCC students to ask questions and connect with Wise Owls, which exists so non-traditional students can talk to people who understand.”
Now, Megan is pursuing a career in public health and articulately advocates for LGBTQIA+ rights. It is hard to believe that she was once incapacitated by anxiety about returning to school. She says that the support and encouragement that she received from RVCC was the secret ingredient. “Since the college is small, it is so easy to ask for help and there is a lot less red tape. I learned how to prioritize, what type of organization and planning works for me, and that I could do this. RVCC gave me my confidence back about my abilities.”
Photo courtesy of Hannah Schroeder/The Keene Sentinel