No one is an island.
It’s a sentiment Kate Nuernberger, of Berwyn, took to heart when she found herself in her fifties and a freshman again at Temple University Ambler.
“I was working in marketing and research as an independent consultant,” said Nuernberger, who graduated with a B.S. in Horticulture. “I was called in for another job and as I sat down to listen to the job description, the more I listened the more I thought, ‘I never want to do this type of work again.’”
A conversation with her husband Jerry and her new career path was set. He urged her to find something that she did love “and do it,” she said.
“I told him I’d love to study horticulture,” Nuernberger said. “We had two children in college, but he told me I should do it.”
Nuernberger spent her first year at Temple University Ambler as a part-time student, then enrolled full-time, taking courses with many students that had entered college directly from high school.
For Nuernberger, the key was connecting with her younger classmates.
“My degree was in communications, and suddenly I found myself taking chemistry for the first time in 30 years,” she said. “Some of the traditional students had just had sciences like chemistry and they were absolutely marvelous. They would sit down and work through it with me one-on-one. The professors were more than willing to sit down and work with me as well.”
Nuernberger’s 3.87 GPA is a testament to how ably she met these new challenges.
“I never felt like an outsider. I felt completely accepted and I think that makes a great deal of difference. If you have life experiences to share, you have to be willing to give back as well,” she said. “You have to make contacts with the people sitting next to you, even if they are just 18; don’t isolate yourself. You’d be surprised at how much you can exchange with one another.”
When Nuernberger first entered Ambler’s horticulture program, she thought she knew what her next step would be upon graduation — develop a nursery with her husband for when they retired.
“But that’s still a long way off and my eyes have really been opened to a world of possibilities. I want to share what I have learned, so teaching is a possibility and I’ve done some consulting, which I enjoyed,” she said. “I’d still like to write and I love to work with plants so I’d like to continue that. It’s wonderful to have such a range of new opportunities.”
For other individuals at a crossroads in their life, Nuernberger suggests exploring how other options might be pursued.
Many individuals often enroll in the five-course credit certificate programs in floral design, horticultural therapy, and landscape plants available at Ambler as a gateway into a full degree program.
“Go back and take a course, see what your passion is and test the waters. If you have a passion for it, it will happen,” she said. “The program at Ambler was in a convenient location and was affordable and, without a doubt, the staff at Temple bent over backward to help make it possible.