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An interview with recent Dix Scholar Karen Mackenzie


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After a string of family tragedies, Karen made the decision to move on with her life and to invest in herself. "I had the option," she recalls, "to wallow in the pain or choose to do something positive about it."

When her daughter attained her college degree, it made it more important than ever for Karen to do so herself--as she had always intended. Finding Simmons was a breakthrough; she realized the Dix Scholars program could offer her a true college experience.

In January of 2008, Karen began Simmons, nervous that she might not completely fit in. She laughs remembering her initial reaction, "I couldn't believe it; some of my professors were younger than me!" What Karen ended up finding at Simmons was a community of amazing individuals -- "incredibly dedicated" professors and passionate, intellectually-curious students that made her even more excited about her classes. "Any one can excel here!" she exclaims.

Karen was able to accelerate her bachelor's degree by gaining 24 credits through the Credit for Prior Learning seminar -- a course that teaches students how to create a portfolio to showcase the skills and knowledge they have gained from personal and professional experiences.

Karen has enjoyed her time both inside and outside of the classroom. Her success in the classroom has led to Karen's induction this September into the Academy, the prestigious honors society at Simmons that recognizes students who have demonstrated superior academic achievement. Only about ten percent of the senior class is recognized with this honor! Outside of the classroom, Karen has made many new friends -- traditional students and Dix Scholars alike! She loves the diversity at Simmons, and how she has been afforded the opportunity to learn with so many different women.

Last May, Karen graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology, but she was not ready to leave Simmons yet! She applied and was accepted to the Simmons School of Social Work, and this fall she began working towards earning her Masters of Social Work.

"My Simmons experience," Karen says, "has been life changing and life saving. While it may sound dramatic to some, it is absolutely the truth."