Ginger Banke married and had children at a young age, putting higher education and career plans on hold. “My frame of mind was, I had kids to raise,” she said, so motherhood and family came first.
As the three children, now in middle- and high school, got older, Banke began working in a variety of dead-end retail jobs. “I told myself, ‘I know I’m smarter than this. I know I can do better,’” she recalled.
So she began taking classes at Chemeketa Community College. A contact there led her to Linfield College. In December, Banke was finishing her degree, doing her full-time student teaching at McNary High School in Keizer.
It has been a struggle at times, meeting everyone’s demands, she said: “There have been days when I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, and I’d go home crying.” But in a quiet moment, she reflected on the value of pursuing a college degree as an adult. “It has rounded me out,” she said. “It’s given me a broader perspective on life, on the world, on humanity.”
Financially, the family has struggled, she added. Banke has had to take out some student loans, she said, but the Oregon Opportunity Grant and other grants have helped tremendously. Without financial assistance, she said, “There’s no way I could have gone to Linfield.”
She said her husband, Eric, a musician who also works with insurance full-time and coaches a club swim team, is “super stressed. But I keep telling him we’re almost there.” After graduation, Banke will be substitute-teaching while looking for a position in a middle school or high school. She is also considering other possibilities, such as health promotion programs.