A passion for animals and education: A lifetime learner's story

Combining a love of teaching and helping animals, this adult learner found her ideal career

At 64 years old, Lesli Overstreet is more than an adult learner – she is a lifetime learner. Overstreet considers herself to be a "professional student," and with good reason. She has earned a bachelor's degree in sociology, a master's degree in social work and a Juris Doctor, among other credentials. However, there is more to Overstreet than a passion for education, as she also cares about animals. In fact, Overstreet's passion for animals has driven her to go back to college and pursue a veterinary technician associate's degree over the Internet.

Making a dream come true

Overstreet's decision to return to school was fueled by tragedy and hope. After she had to put her black lab to sleep, and her son had to euthanize his pit bull, Overstreet developed a dream of pet hospice, modeled after the form of care that exists for humans at the end of their lives. "I realized the need for a pet hospice, so that people could have the support they need from the time their beloved pet is diagnosed, through the grief and bereavement periods," Overstreet said. "Animals have become a huge part of people's lives, and often substitute for and/or fill the gap of lost or distant loved ones." However, to make her dream a reality, Overstreet realized she needed to know more about caring for domestic animals, which led her to the online degree program she is currently enrolled in.

A good fit

While Overstreet enjoys the types of interactions that can only be found in a physical classroom, she admits that online learning suits her needs at this time in her life. Overstreet works full time as a medical social worker, has two grown sons and two rescue dogs. Online education makes balancing her responsibilities to her career and loved ones much easier. "I would definitely recommend online studies for those whose life is full and want to further their academic studies, as it allows students to work at their own pace, any time of day or night," Overstreet said. The adult learner admits her memory is not as sharp as it was when she was younger, but that does not stop her from learning. "I crave knowledge and learning," Overstreet said. "For me, school has always been a safe haven, a place to grow intellectually, and I've always had a thirst to have goals that require going to school, and proving to myself that I can achieve academically."