Dordt College News

Mother, daughter receive diplomas together

May 9, 2009

Joy and Colleen Horstman

Twenty-two years ago Colleen Horstman and her infant daughter were at Dordt College’s commencement to see husband Allen collect his diploma.

This year it was their turn.

Colleen, 44, and daughter Joy, 22, were both part of the Dordt College Class of 2009.

Mom earned an education degree and will be student teaching at Hull Christian and Boyden-Hull’s Transitional Kindergarten program this fall. Joy earned a degree in biology and is hoping to continue her education at graduate school. She just made it home in time for graduation, flying in just hours earlier from a semester abroad in Africa.

“I think it’s really cool, and I’m really proud of my mom,” said Joy as they donned matching caps and gowns for the big event.

Joy was a traditional four-year student, but Colleen’s path was a bit longer, definitely more stressful, and she says, “Well worth the wait.”

Colleen and Allen were married a year after graduating from high school. The plan was for her to be the wage-earner while Allen got his accounting degree, after which Colleen would pursue her goal of becoming a teacher.

Colleen held a variety of jobs over the next four years, but the plan changed during Allen’s senior year: on October 17, 1986, their first child was born. Colleen became a stay-at-home mom, and says, “The kids became my teacher fix.” There were four: Joy, 22; Tyler, 21 (a junior at Dordt); Abby, 16; and Sara, 14.

The desire to become a teacher stuck with her, however, and Colleen’s new goal became to get an education degree by the age of 45. She started college six years ago, enrolling as a part-time student so she could continue work at a preschool, and cleaning homes in Sioux Center.

As the 2008-09 academic year approached, Colleen and Allen took a look at the credits remaining and decided she should become a full-time student and finish up her degree.

“My husband has been a huge support,” says Colleen.“I could not have done it without him and the support of the entire family. It was stressful, but we all had a common goal.” She adds that another key factor was the support and encouragement of Dordt’s faculty and staff.

“It takes a lot of courage as a non-traditional student to walk into a classroom the very first time.You really have to dig down deep,” recalls Colleen. But she’s quick to add it was well worth it.

“I really felt enfolded and embraced as the students and faculty here let me into their lives.”

Colleen and Joy were in different programs, so they never took classes together. Colleen was blessed, however, to get to know some of Joy’s friends enrolled in the education program.

“We got to know each other on a couple different levels, as fellow students, but also as Joy’s mom.”

It’s been an experience that’s drawn them closer as a family, and on commencement day, mother and daughter shared the joy of achieving goals and joining the ranks of Dordt alumni.

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