Kim and John Querl of Lilburn, business and accounting majors, are pursuing degrees at Georgia Gwinnett College after higher education wasn’t available to them in their native Zambia and Zimbabwe. (Special Photo)
LAWRENCEVILLE — After his son graduated from college, and he learned his wife was going back to school, Ken Klemm figured he might as well tag along, too.
“I had no thought of getting a college degree,” he said, “but found that the way for me to deal with my spouse returning to school was to join her.”
Klemm, 46, and his wife Lynne 51, of Snellville are each majoring in information technology with a concentration in enterprise systems. They’re part of a group of non-traditional students — married couples — at Georgia Gwinnett College that have enrolled during or after at least one phase in their life, according to a recent news release.
Another couple is Kim and John Querl of Lilburn, in their mid-50s, who are natives of Zambia and Zimbabwe, but moved to the United States in 1994. An opportunity for higher education that’s offered at places like GGC is not available in Africa, Kim said.
The Querls have taken some classes together, which is also true for Zahra and Momin Ali of Lawrenceville, who are each majoring, at least partially, in biology.
“We found it to be helpful in that we not only saved money on gas and books, but have motivated one another as well,” Zahra said. “And a side benefit was that we always had a lab partner.”
John Querl said taking classes with his wife has revealed a competitive spirit, which benefits them.
“Kim has strengths that I am able to draw on when I need help and vice-versa,” he said. “The courses that we took together always ended in great success, and we pose a formidable front when participating in group projects.”
As new parents, the Alis enrolled at GGC because they wanted to be better citizens and create a better life for their family. Momin Ali said GGC professors understand the complex life they lead as students and young parents.
Douglas Johnson, an associate professor of management, called the couples role models.
“They are proof that you can balance it all if you are willing to put forth the necessary effort,” he said. “Once they got into their classes, they found they were capable of doing this and far more.”
Lynne Klemm has earned a 3.88 grade-point average while her husband Ken has a 3.65, but Lynne credited professors who recognized non-traditional students’ schedules.
“The professors who teach at night and on the weekends realize that their students are different than those who attend during the day,” she said. “They know we have just worked eight hours before having to sit in class for another three before going home and doing homework.”
Planning to graduate soon with business and accounting degrees, the Querls said the long journey was worth it.
“I tell others thinking of seeking a degree to never let age be a question,” John Querl said. “We are proof that age and togetherness can’t be beaten.”