This is the third in the “Pathway Series” of stories on Jeremiah Espersen, a retired Army sergeant pursuing a teaching degree at Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville. Read Part 2 here, which chronicled Espersen’s readjustment to student life after 21 years away from the classroom. In Part 3, we check in about halfway through his spring semester at Trinity Baptist.
Following a 21-year break from pursuing his studies, Jeremiah Espersen dove into the deep end during his first semester at Trinity Baptist College by signing up for 18 credits.
The 40-year-old retired Army sergeant hoped to take on a less demanding spring schedule after concluding his fall term.
“Honestly, going into the (spring) semester, I really didn’t want to take the same amount of credits,” Espersen said.
Technically, he succeeded: Espersen has taken on 17 credit hours (six classes) this spring.
“Turns out this curriculum is pretty straightfoward with the classes I need to take to finish in four years,” said Espersen, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in secondary education at Trinity Baptist.
But even with only a semester of college under his belt, Espersen feels more comfortable managing the heavy course load this time around.
“I’m better able to anticipate the amount of time and effort my classwork will take,” he said. “A couple of my courses now are more predictable than the ones in the fall, at least in terms of what I can expect with some of the quizzes.”
Espersen has also figured out ways of spending extra time with his kids, the oldest of whom is 7 years old.
“With some of my classes now, I can make adjustments like going in earlier while my kids are getting ready for school, so we get some extra time in the morning,” Espersen said. He previously expressed disappointment over not being able to regularly help his kids with their homework during the fall because he had to contend with his own schoolwork.
Among Espersen’s six classes this spring, the one that has intrigued him the most is his only elective: Cults II (BIB 207).
“I’ve always been really fascinated by different religions, especially with some of the traveling around the world I’ve done,” said Espersen, who was deployed to Afghanistan twice during his military career. “It’s interesting looking at all the different cults there’ve been through the lens of my faith and learning what’s considered a cult and why.”
On the other hand, his English Composition II class has created some unexpected challenges.
“I thought I’d be really good at writing my research paper for that class, but it’s not the same writing style that I was used to (in the Army),” Espersen said. “I’m not used to having to prove the credibility of my sources in this way.
“It was much more manageable wading through my sources as an intelligence analyst versus thousands of leads on the internet and other places where it seems like everything but 5% is garbage.”
Espersen also said he is interested in exploring volunteer opportunities in Jacksonville. Still, as the spring semester comes to a close, he finds himself getting more acclimated to college life.
“It certainly has been a challenge again, but I’ve been learning the personalities of the teachers,” he said. “It has been less difficult figuring out what they’re looking for.”
This story is part of Florida College Access Network’s “Pathway Series,” a year-long project that seeks to highlight the diversity of experiences students face as they pursue postsecondary degrees. Each student will be profiled at the start of the school year, during the fall, in the spring, and during the summer following the conclusion of their first year.
Aspiring teacher Jeremiah Espersen learned a few lessons during fall semester at Trinity Baptist College
Jeremiah Espersen: The Army sergeant goes back to school
Introducing “The Pathway Series: Stories of Florida Students and Their Journey Through College”