Jeanette Bova

Portrait of Jeanette Bova
Jeanette Bova

Working as a waitress at a diner gives Jeanette Bova many opportunities to interact with the public, but she’d like to be serving up learning, not breakfast. A lifetime spent devouring books led her to believe that she might just have what it takes to be a teacher, so she found her way to University College. “Academia has really evolved into a more satisfying learning process since the days I had to go to school,” she says. For now, waitressing pays the bills, but her ultimate goal is to “attain a more satisfying career—preferably one where I couldn’t care less about how you want your eggs,” she quips.

As a single mother of two, Jeanette tries to teach by example, and enrolling in college as an adult became a satisfying kind of role modeling. “The experience so far has been exhausting, overwhelming, rewarding, daunting, confusing, and incredibly fulfilling,” she says. “I would suggest it to those who can rise up to challenge and take pride in the learning process—higher education can genuinely be the path to a different life.”

Jeanette credits former University College advisor Emileen Butler with keeping her educational journey on track. “She has been the face of constant helpfulness throughout my time at UC,” Jeanette reflects, while expressing her dismay at hearing of Emileen’s retirement in July. “Without her advice, I likely would have given up. Emileen is the friendly voice who genuinely wants to help and not only offers advice, but humanizes the experience beautifully and effectively. She has been my anchor.”

At 42, new and evolving technology has been a hurdle for Jeanette, but she’s determined to persevere—at least to a master’s degree and possibly as far as a Ph.D. “I’d love to be able to say to a customer, ‘that’s DoctorMiss to you!’”

A University College Achiever Scholarship has cut Jeanette’s tuition costs almost in half, and she will continue to receive it as long as she keeps her grades up. So far, she’s maintaining a GPA that fluctuates between a 3.8 and a 3.9, with no grade below an A-minus. “No doubt about financial aid being the great white hope in this story,” she muses. “Without that, along with other supplemental grants, I’d still be reading for curiosity, not toward academic achievement.”

Jeanette has a demanding 6-day-a-week work schedule, but is determined to finish her bachelor’s degree as soon as possible. In addition to fall and spring semester classes, she squeezed in two summer classes this year, and hopes to graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in English by 2019. In the meantime, the gratification of moving toward a deeply held goal sustains her. “The greatest reward I am receiving is an incredible sense of being able to do anything I want,” she says. “I take an “A” home in each class and I have to work at it and sacrifice time and activities to do it, but by golly, I own that one piece of myself. The hard work pays off with complete satisfaction.”