While some college students seek the fastest track to graduation, Kerry Hytinen of Ishpeming opted for the slow, deliberate route. She earned a bachelor’s degree in writing from Northern 20 years ago and soon re-enrolled to begin work on a master’s. After detours and delays—some intentional and others not—Hytinen will receive her degree on Saturday. She said it was rewarding to complete her requirements the same semester that her daughter first enrolled at Northern, but this is not the end of Hytinen’s education. The NMU staff member considers herself a “forever student” and lifelong learner.
Hytinen said she has always had an affinity for reading and writing, so the latter seemed the most logical choice for an academic major. Roughly a year after her 1998 graduation, she began taking master’s level courses, but financial challenges derailed her plans. The temporary interruption stretched to several years.
“In 2012, I was thrilled to get a job at NMU and especially excited about the tuition benefit,” said Hytinen, who now serves as executive secretary in Marketing and Communications. “I hoped to use it to put my daughter through NMU, but it was always in the back of my mind that maybe I would finish my degree, too. I’ve taken one or two classes per year since I began working on campus. Sometimes they applied toward a degree and sometimes they didn’t. It all depended on what was happening in my life at that moment. It was important that I graduate, not only for me, but to show my daughter [Kendra] that it’s important to complete something you’ve started.”
Some of Hytinen’s favorite English professors retired over the course of her extended journey. They included Gerald Waite, Peter Goodrich and Beverly Matherne. “It’s been sad to see them go, but I really like meeting the new faculty. Gosh, they’re young!”
Hytinen will not pause for long after earning her master’s degree in writing. She is enrolled in a graphic design class for the winter semester.
“I tell Kendra that we may be mother and daughter, but now we’re like peers, both taking classes at Northern. She doesn’t like it when I joke about that. And we both took the same course this fall, but she insisted we take different sections so we wouldn’t be together in the same classroom,” Hytinen laughed. “I love my classes and I really love the students. I get to meet a whole new group of people with every class I enroll in.”
As she continues her education for professional advantage and/or personal fulfillment at a very casual pace, Hytinen seems to be heeding the advice of, appropriately, a writer. Author Israelmore Ayivor said, “It's better to be slow and careful in the right direction than to be fast and careless on the wrong path.”