Librarian finds unique way to earn degree


Most students take the same route on their journey to a college education, going straight from high school to college or university. Carol Krabbenhoft has taken a different course.

Krabbenhoft graduated from Concordia at age 51,with a Bachelor’s degree in December of 2006, majoring in Office Administration, and was in the last class of the major. She started taking classes at Concordia with the help of an employee benefit provided by Concordia and encouragement from her peers.

Krabbenhoft started working at Concordia as a Library Administrative Assistant in 1999, at age 44. At the time, Krabbenhoft had never attended college. She married young, at age 19, right after high school, and never had the opportunity to go. But her supervisor at the time, Betty Raum, library director, motivated her to start looking at attending college as a real possibility.

“She really pushed me to start, and gave me the opportunity to attend classes,” Krabbenhoft said.

After auditing one course per semester for a couple years, as specified by the Concordia Employee Continuing Education benefit, Krabbenhoft decided to take time off of work to pursue being a full-time student. This decision was supported by her two daughters, both of whom were also starting college at the time, though not at Concordia.

“They were so supportive, as well as my husband,” Krabbenhoft said.

Krabbenhoft chose Concordia because of her personal connection to the college, as well as the ease of access it gave her to pursue her degree.

“Concordia is a pillar of the community,” Krabbenhoft said. “I wanted to be part of something bigger. And it was basically in my backyard.”

During her time as a student here Krabbenhoft was also able to take part in a number of the same Concordia opportunities offered to the typical Concordia student – such as going on a May Seminar.

Krabbenhoft went to China on an Environmental Studies trip with Dr. Stewart Herman, formerly an associate professor of religion, where they studied the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam and the impact they had on the environment, as well as the impact the dam was having on the culture and way of life in the area.

Krabbenhoft says she went on the trip with another adult student from Concordia.

“I encouraged her to go so I wouldn’t be the only adult on the trip with a bunch of young people,” Krabbenhoft said, laughing.

Krabbenhoft believes that Concordia not only gave her the chance to go on trips like that, but also the confidence to do so. She believes the ability to interact with people of another culture in an attempt to understand their worldview, and then restructure one’s own worldview based on the new-found knowledge is something special she took from her time as a Concordia student.

After graduation Krabbenhoft worked outside of Concordia for a couple of years, but came back to Concordia in 2010 as the Library’s Serials Coordinator. She applied to the Serials position knowing that she would not have been able to do so a couple of years ago, as the position needed someone with a Bachelor’s degree.

“I missed the people, missed the library,” Krabbenhoft said. “I knew it was a good place to work, Christian-based.”

Theresa Borchert, electronic resources librarian, was on Krabbenhoft’s search committee back in 2010.

“[Krabbenhoft’s] attention to detail and willingness to learn set her apart,” Borchert said. “In life you need to be a continuous learner, and she has proven this with her desire to get a degree.”

Krabbenhoft and Borchert are now coworkers who work on the library’s online collection of materials. Borchert says that it is Krabbenhoft’s ability to get along with everyone that has helped their relationship flourish. The two of them even meet up to meditate during their work breaks.

Due to her education at Concordia, Krabbenhoft was able to apply for the job. Ericka Peterson, registrar employee, gives insight into what this program offers.

Employees who take classes at Concordia are divided into two categories, “Degree Seeking” or “NonDegree Seeking,” which only affects how much financial aid is available to them. There are currently five people at Concordia who are taking advantage of the benefit, three of whom are “Degree Seeking” and two of whom are “Non-Degree Seeking.”

“I believe it is a huge benefit,” Peterson said about the ability for adults to continue broadening their knowledge. “It is a huge perk of working for Concordia.”

Margo Rowland, human resources assistant, said the benefit is available to all workers at Concordia, as long as the employee works with their supervisor on managing a work and student schedule. This benefit is also available to spouses and children of Concordia employees, as well as tuition help to attend May Seminars, the Concordia Language Villages and Oak Grove Lutheran School in Fargo.

Krabbenhoft believes that this benefit is one that really sets Concordia apart. While Concordia employees may not receive the same salary as government workers, for example, this benefit is a huge perk. Krabbenhoft believes that Concordia’s commitment to helping employees continue their education is a crucial part of her continued success.

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