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'Believe in Yourself,' says Single Mom Honors Graduate

May 30, 2008

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE-"Where there's a will, there's a way."

That's the motto of Noel C. Kurtz, 36, of Villas, who began her first-ever pursuit of a higher education three years ago and is about to graduate from Atlantic Cape Community College-with honors.

Noel Kurtz

Kurtz, who earned a degree in liberal arts/general studies with a science option, had many obstacles to overcome when she first embarked on her college career. She had never been in a college setting, was newly divorced (from her high school sweetheart) with three kids who were 7, 9 and 11 at the time, and had spent her entire adult life as a homemaker.

But her indomitable spirit spurred her onward.

"My husband and I had split right around the time of my first semester," said Kurtz, who attended classes at the Cape May County Campus. "I had no family here; my parents and sister all live in Pennsylvania, and my grandparents live in Camden County. I was lucky to have the support of friends."

But, as the old adage goes, you make your own luck. As such, Kurtz's will is what secured her success.

"It was sheer determination," she said. "I willed myself to do this."

Not surprisingly, Kurtz worked very hard during her college days. In addition to keeping up with her studies, she worked part time at the school's Information Commons and picked up tutoring jobs in anatomy and physiology and CISM.

Her main goal is to enter the nursing program and get her RN degree.

"I was always interested in the health care field," she said. "When you have kids, you have to make informed choices about their care, and your own. I thought, ‘Hmm...I could be a nurse.' Plus, I love working with people. I got a 4.0 [grade point average] after my first two semesters, so I knew I could do it."

No matter what she decides to do, it's a safe bet that Kurtz will succeed on the strength of her intelligence, will and dogged determination.

Her main motto and advice to others in similar situations is: "Believe in yourself, because there's nothing you can't do."