Jan Mares puts her education to work every day as a customer service representative in the Nebraska Child Support Payment Center. Soon to graduate with a BA degree in human resources, Jan said she befriends the people who call the center and offers them kindness. A co-worker once told her should “put out a shingle and open a counseling service.”
Jan is closer to fulfilling her own dreams as she prepares for her graduation May 15 at Doane College in Crete. To top off the excitement, she has been invited to speak at the baccalaureate service May 14. She also is receiving the National Honor Society Pinnacle Award for a non-traditional student. “I turned in my speech last week, and they loved it,” she said. Her speech is about reinventing one’s self, overcoming obstacles, and setting goals or “dreams with deadlines,” as she calls them.
"My daughter was graduating and I was so proud. I was moved and inspired that day by life’s possibilities. And especially by the 80-year-old gentleman who graduated with her - he had originally attended Doane over 50 years ago with my mother-in-law, Elva Mares. His story and his commitment motivated me that day."
She confesses she is a bit nervous, hoping her speech inspires others as she was inspired at her daughter’s 2008 graduation, also from Doane. One of the graduates that year was an 80-year-old man who had started college decades earlier. Jan, too, had started college years ago, back in the 1970s. She went back in 2008 as she picked up the pieces after the death of her husband, David. She was supported in her journey by her daughter, Natalie, and her son, Nate, who graduated from UNL in 2010.