Army Veteran Kathleen Cashaw will celebrate her 62nd birthday this summer. She is also celebrating this summer for another reason – earning her college degree. With the support from Butler VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program, Cashaw has achieved her goal of completing her Associates of Arts Degree as a medical assistant at Butler Community College.

“The Vocational Rehabilitation staff at Butler VA always gave me encouragement. I had doubts about completing the degree, but the VA staff always directed me to the positive of completing the program rather than the negative thoughts that I was having. Like being too old. I knew I had potential. I knew that it was in myself.”

Vocational Rehabilitation at Butler VA assists Veterans to prepare for, find, and maintain suitable jobs. Employment services such as job training, employment-seeking skills, resume development, and other work-readiness assistance is available for Veterans to achieve their employment goals.

“I cannot thank the staff in Vocational Rehabilitation enough. They were instrumental in my success and I have been given confidence to continue my education for a Bachelor of Science degree, my ultimate ‘Bucket List.”

“Messed” up but moved on

Middle child of a hard-working illiterate father and a strict mother who instilled the importance of education, Cashaw did what neither her parents nor her two siblings ever did: Enroll in college. But her degree pursuits at Tuskegee University and Howard University began and ended within a year.

“I messed up in college.”

She enlisted in the Army and in 1986 joined the Mississippi National Guard. She also took jobs in customer service and in making ice cream machines in one factory and automotive parts in another.

“My father didn’t think I would ever go back to college,” Cashaw said. A disabled Veteran, she volunteered at Butler VA while making the dean’s list and the president’s list at Butler Community College. “For my age, I completed it. Finally.”

Vocational Rehabilitation: “If you want to succeed, you will.”

Kathleen encourages other Veterans to reach out to Vocational Rehabilitation for support and assistance. Her other advice: “You are never too old to pursue your dreams. If you really want to succeed you will. It takes hard work, but never succumb to the negative, look for the positive.”

Her education has changed her life. “It has made me more confident. “Now, there are things that I can do.”


Amanda Kurtz is a public affairs specialist with the Butler VA Healthcare System.

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15 Comments

  1. Michael J Contos July 3, 2020 at 8:12 am

    As a Vietnam veteran, I salute you!
    I never knew if I was “college material” until I returned from the war as a combat infantry platoon leader and got into a community college where I was required to take remedial math and English classes. I got my AA, my BA and then an MA within the four years the GI Bill allocated to servicemen back then.

    I would not have done it if I didn’t have the help and support from the VA and the veterans who formed a Vets organization at the community college. I was the first in my family to go to college and feel a kinship with all veterans of all ages who go to school after completing their tour of duty!

  2. Shantealle Ray July 1, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    This story is so encouraging. I’m 48 and thanks to Voc-Rehab, I just started my journey to earn my masters in social work. I’m grateful to see someone who has achieved the same goal I am working towards.

  3. Angela L Thomas June 30, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    You Go Girl !!!!!!!!
    So proud of you.

  4. bsk June 27, 2020 at 5:24 am

    Congratulations fro the Degree at 62, even motivational for all of us.

  5. Kathy B June 26, 2020 at 10:34 am

    I’ve been going to college on and off for 40 years so I know how hard it is….but YOU DID IT! congrats on a great accomplishment….I’m still working on my BS degree so your story encourages me to keep going forward!

  6. Cesar Anino June 25, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    Congratulations!

  7. R. Smith June 25, 2020 at 1:02 am

    Congratulations Kathleen! I am a 59 year-old Air Force veteran. I earned an Associate degree in in 2017 and Bachelor‘s degree in 2019! Going back to school moved my life forward in leaps and bounds. I was hired by my Alma Mater 3 months after graduating! I for your Bachelor’s degree, you’re already halfway there. I found a small college of about 1200 students, so I didn’t feel like I was swimming in an ocean.

  8. Noel Weathers June 24, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    Great job. I will be graduating September from the Art Institute – Dallas with my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree (BFA) in Digital Photography at the age of 61.

  9. MARLON L. MAXEY June 24, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    I am a Veteran that went back to college and got my Bachelor Degree after 30 years. The achievement is rewarding, but unfortunately, I’m stuck with educational loans because my VA benefits expired after 10 years. There are pluses and minuses with higher education. We all must press on to achieve our better self no matter the cost.

  10. Charitina Gibbons June 24, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Congrats! Great to know I’m not the only ”constant student” of a certain age! Be proud as I am certain you and yours are!

  11. Sharon Green June 24, 2020 at 12:26 am

    Hello! I opened my laptop and THIS story was up. At first I thought it was talking about me. Except, I am not being allowed to graduate because the six credits that I was promised are being denied me. ( Due to the fact I can not get a respond to my request for a JST.) I will turn 62 this summer as well. And, I too was supposed to be celebrating my graduation with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business. However, instead, I have been given the run-around while trying to obtain the necessary military form that grants me credits for my time spent in the ARMY and for my MOS. I have worked very hard, struggled and sacrificed to receive my degree. Now, I have run into a brick wall. PLEASE help me with this matter. I am praying that this reaches someone that will assist me with this issue. CONRADULATIONS to the ladies listed above! Hopefully, I will join them in this major accomplishment.

    Thank you,
    Sincerely

  12. Terry Gilliam June 24, 2020 at 12:11 am

    GOD IS GOOD !!!We are so VERY proud of you congratulation Miss Lady !!!

  13. Steven Collier Everson June 23, 2020 at 11:11 pm

    Outstanding, Soldier!

  14. Matthew H Cox II June 23, 2020 at 11:04 pm

    Way to go soldier!!!

  15. keke June 23, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    That great I am a veteran also and I’m 43 I too just graduated from Liberty University and I got my associates degree in paralegal

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