Student Success Stories - Sandra Koberlein
As a wife and mother, Woodstown resident Sandra Koberlein was a little anxious about going back to college to begin a new career path. So rather than step onto the large campus of Rowan University right away, Sandra decided to enroll locally at Salem Community College.
She considers it one of the smartest decisions she’s made about her education.
“Without SCC, I would not have my degree,” Sandra said. “I'm not certain I would have felt comfortable starting back to college at Rowan or a large institution like that. SCC made my start back very comfortable.”
At SCC, Sandra decided to pursue a career as an art teacher and began taking courses to put her on that track. She took a variety of classes including digital image editing and glass art as well as some of her general requirements such as English, math, environmental science and psychology. From SCC, Sandra transferred to Rowan University where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in art education with a minor in art history.
Sandra is currently an artist, working as an art teacher at Clearview Regional School District.
While at SCC, Sandra said her teachers and counselors were really helpful, especially in assisting her when choosing courses. Knowing she was going to transfer to Rowan, Sandra counted on the staff at SCC to guide her in the right direction.
“The community atmosphere was very comforting for me as a non-traditional student,” she said.
In 2007, Sandra decided to combine education with travel and attended a semester abroad in Florence, Italy from January through April. The semester, provided by a scholarship she was awarded while earning her bachelor’s degree, gave Sandra a different perspective on her work as an artist and as a teacher. In Florence, she took courses such as fresco painting, early renaissance art history and a master’s level course on art aesthetics.
“The experience of living and going to school in Florence was life changing,” Sandra said. “Living in a new country where the language and cultures are different than what I know was a new experience for me. It’s one that I will never forget.”
Today, Sandra says she enjoys being an artist. Because she likes to experiment with art, her favorite medium changes as well. As art is how she expresses herself, her medium will reflect the currents of her life or an influence recently had. This is what works for her.
Sandra gives much credit to her family for her work as an artist.
“My family has been so proud of me and supportive,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been about to do it without them.”
Sandra believes each artist has to find their own path. While education can aid an artist, she believes exploring and experimenting are important too.
“Find out what you enjoy doing and keep doing it,” she advised. “Follow your inner artist and be creative.
“Making art makes me happy,” Sandra said. “It is through my art that I hope to inspire others and to share the magic of creative exploration.”
Sandra said her experience at Salem Community College helped her on her path as an artist and a teacher. And she is happy to pass on her opinion to her students.
“Now as a New Jersey teacher,” she said, “I tell my high school students about the opportunity that I had at SCC and remind them that community colleges have a lot to offer.”