Kaycie Bolin thought she was destined for a life of applying facials and chemical peels working as an esthetician when one evening she experienced a startling moment of clarity.
As a result, Bolin graduated from Wright State University in December with a bachelor’s degree in French and a bachelor’s degree in English, achieving a 4.0 grade point average while working full-time as a nontraditional student.
With neither parent graduating college, Bolin appeared to be following suit and bounced from job to job after graduating from Springboro High School. She eventually attended beauty school to become an esthetician and assumed that would be the highest level of education she would obtain.
Then lightning struck.
“One fateful night, I realized I did not want the rest of my life to look like the life I had known so far,” Bolin said. “Without pausing, I grabbed my laptop and applied to Wright State. The rest, as they say, is history.”
At the age of 26, she embarked on her collegiate journey. She chose Wright State because it was close to home and the most affordable option. The decision turned out to be wise as she graduated in under 2½ years with two degrees and no student debt.
“My education at Wright State has given me the sense of purpose and fulfillment that I’ve always longed for,” she said. “Furthermore, I have benefitted immensely from the professors in the French and English departments. Their kindness, guidance and enthusiasm have helped me grow as a writer, a lover of literature and a Francophile.”
It was happenstance that led Bolin to major in both English and French after discovering that she would be required to take a foreign language to graduate.
“I panicked. At first, I thought, ‘Well, my college career has been fun, but there’s no way I’m going to graduate now,’” she said. “I can’t learn another language, I’m simply not capable.”
Despite her anxiety, she signed up for an intensive beginning French sequence under the tutelage of Jean-Michel Lamoine, instructor of French, and after working arduously, felt confident enough in her ability to master another language that she declared a second major.
And she excelled. Among her many accolades, she was named the French program’s outstanding senior in 2023. She also was president of the French Club and a member of the French National Honor Society, volunteered for Language Immersion Day 2022 and French Immersion Day 2023, and completed her French honor project on ultra-contemporary French novels.
Twice she participated in the French Ambassador Program to satiate her wanderlust. During her first trip to France, she spent a week teaching French students English and American culture. During her second excursion, she researched the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and led her fellow undergraduate students on a historical tour of the cemetery.
“While overseas, I fell in love with France in a way that is almost indescribable,” Bolin said. “Even though I’d never been to Paris, it felt like home.”
“Kaycie is a phenomenon,” said Kirsten Halling, Ph.D., professor of French at Wright State. “As a nontraditional student, she has maintained a full load of classes while continuing her work as an esthetician and caregiving for her mother. Despite her extremely full schedule, she has excelled in her studies and has found the time to participate in extracurricular activities, student teaching and two study-abroad programs. As her professor, I always look forward to her essays and research papers because I know they will be thorough, creative and insightful.”
Bolin has sacrificed a lot in the past couple of years. Determined to succeed she has some words of advice for those who might be in a similar circumstance.
“Going back to school is one of the most terrifying and rewarding things you can do,” said Bolin. “But when it gets to be too much — and there will be times when the pressure feels unbearable — don’t be afraid to ask for a helping hand. The people in your life want to see you succeed.”
Bolin will continue her education at the University of Kentucky, where she earned a full scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in French. She will also receive a paid stipend while teaching undergraduate elementary and intermediate French courses.
Following that, her future remains undetermined.
“I would love to earn my Ph.D.,” she said “After that, who knows? Maybe I’ll teach at the university level in the United States, maybe I’ll relocate to France or a Francophone country.”
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