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Closing The Loop: Carol Childers

Warren Miller

Carol Childers was born in raised in Houston.

"After high school, I went to college for a few years, and then got a job in newspaper production."

She met Dave Childers in her home town.

"We had been dating for seven years. When we finally decided that we were meant for each other, I said yes, we got married and I quit college. I wasn't ready for school."

Dave was a history major who had taken ROTC, and the new couple moved to San Diego for his Navy tour. After his enlistment, Dave Childers went to medical school, and returned to the Navy as a pediatrician. That was the start of a move every three years or so, for several decades.

"Each move was an adventure. If you didn't like something about where you were, well ... in three years, you were going somewhere else. I was luck that almost everywhere, I found a job, usually in newspaper production. Once I was working for a weekly newspaper, and the editor left, so they moved me up."

While her husband's career thrived, Carol Childers began to realize that in her field, the fact that she was not ready for school many years earlier was coming back to haunt her.

"The higher up you went, the more likely you weren't going to be looked at for a job if you didn't have a college degree ... and I didn't."

By 2008, the Childers family had moved permanently to Jacksonville, and Carol's son was going to college.

"We always emphasized that college was the key to getting a good job. That made me realize that I needed to go back to school."

Carol got a job doing print and digital communications for a church ... and went back to college to learn her job.

"I started working full-time, and taking one or two classes a semester."

She also realized that like her children, she was ADHD.

"When my kids were diagnosed with the disorder, I realized, hey, I was just like that in school -- distracted, couldn't sit still. I got help, and I'm good now. I do things like make sure I put things away in the same spot each time. It's helped a lot."

A much bigger issue was being an older student, learning to work in a digital world.

"I'm 58 years old now. I thought, I'm going back to school with kids, and in digital media, at that. I can't do this!' But I'm doing it, one course at a time. I get to apply everything I learn to my job, which I'm pretty excited about."

Carol Childers has learned a lot about the process of learning itself. College has been a graduate program in something she's dealt with her whole life.

"One thing about Navy wives is, you learn to be flexible, 'cause everything changes. A friend told me once, blessed are the flexible because they will not break."

Warren Miller is a writer and financial executive who lives near St. Augustine, Florida.