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.