Non-traditional student, Kimberly "Kim" Bauer-Hillison, is single and without children, but is still considered different from the 800 other non-traditional students at UW-Whitewater. At the age of 25, she isn't exempt from the challenges her older demographic faces. She is working toward a degree in finance with an emphasis in financial planning.
While living in Janesville, Kim started her college education at UW-Rock County. Like other students, it took time to figure out what she wanted to do for a living. She took classes that focused on nursing and anesthesiology.
"These classes really did not hold my attention," Bauer-Hillison said. "I decided I wasn't going to waste any more time or money until I could be passionate about what I wanted to do."
Bauer-Hillison, who was paying for her own education, said she wasn't ready for college, and decided to move to Wisconsin Dells where she worked as a bartender.
"I knew what I didn't want to be when I looked into my future," Bauer-Hillison said.
Through a friend, Bauer-Hillison took a job as a receptionist at Creative Finance while living in Wisconsin Dells, and worked her way up to a finance specialist.
It was through this job that Bauer-Hillison said she finally discovered what her passion was: helping build investment portfolios and guide people with their financial needs.
"I want to be able to benefit people in a positive way and educate them about money," Bauer-Hillison said.
The fact that many younger students go to school because it's what their parents want and not what they themselves want, is something Bauer-Hillison said is very common.
"I decided to go back to school for me, not for anyone else," Bauer-Hillison said. "I could not get enough of finance."
She enrolled at UW-Baraboo, where she received an associate's degree in the summer of 2010.
She transferred to UW-Whitewater in the fall of 2010. This semester, she is taking 16 credits plus working 30 hours a week at Hhffrrrggh's Restaurant in Janesville.
In between class and work breaks, Bauer-Hillison said she spends her time studying.
"With this hectic schedule, it leaves very little time to cultivate a social life," Bauer-Hillison said. "So the friendships created while at school are very important to me. I feel that when you are older and know what you want to do, you have a better mentality to do better, and you actually have an interest in your classes."
UW-Whitewater Professor Dr. David Porter said he agrees with Bauer-Hillison, who is one of his finance students.
"Kim not only works hard, but she also performs exceptionally well," Porter said. "When she doesn't immediately understand something, she asks questions until she does."
If Bauer-Hillison could go back in time to talk with her 'younger self,' she said she would say, "Never stop going to school. Education is an ongoing process and knowledge is one thing that no one can take away from you."
She also said she would tell herself to remain positive and that you have to work to get anything worth having in life.
"Success may be 99 percent hard work, but only about one percent of the people have that level of motivation," Porter said. "Kim falls in that category."
Bauer-Hillison is putting into practice what she is learning. She says her greatest accomplishment will be to finish school without loans. This drive and determination keeps Bauer- Hillison focused on the goal of graduating from UW-Whitewater in December 2012.