Outstanding grad overcomes challenges to complete her master’s degree after 10 year break

Anne Welch smiling while outside hiking.
Anne Welch outside kneeling next to a bear.
Anne Welch next to a bear during field studies.

Anne Welch grew up in Colorado with a passion for animals and the outdoors. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in zoology. After a long journey and a 10-year hiatus, Welch is now graduating from CSU’s School of Education with a master’s in education and human resource studies with a concentration in adult education and training.

Welch grew up with a love for science and animals. While working on her undergraduate degree at CSU, she did field research for a genetics laboratory working with prairie dogs in Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota. After graduating, she continued field research in Texas, Arizona and Alaska.

When she returned to Colorado, Welch worked as an educational park ranger at Bear Creek Lake Park. But she missed learning. She enrolled in school to become a certified veterinary technician to continue with her love of animals. During her time as a CVT, Welch realized that she wanted to learn how to be a more effective teacher and enrolled in CSU’s adult education and training program in 2009.

A bump in the road

Anne Welch kneeling next to two hound dogs in blue scrubs.
Anne Welch as a certified veterinary technician.

After starting and almost finishing her master’s degree, Welch had to put her education on pause when she encountered a battle with depression. This battle with her mental health began during the final semester of her program. During this time, she left her corporate job as a CVT and decided to not complete her degree with one class left.

“I ended up putting everything on indefinite hold and walking away to figure it all out,” Welch said. “It took a lot of hard work and the help of others, but I did eventually come out of that time to work at a private veterinary practice and use what I’d learned during my time working on my master’s as a CVT again and the lead trainer.”

Finishing her degree

While she was working at the private vet clinic, Welch made the decision to finish her master’s degree. The AET program told Welch she could finish her degree, but would have to do so by the end of the year so she wouldn’t lose her credits. In August, she enrolled to finish her degree online.

“Something in me made me check in with my graduate program to see if I could still finish my master’s degree,” Welch said.

Anne and her husband smiling in selfie.
Anne and her husband.

During her journey, Welch got married in 2018, and she and her husband are now expecting a baby boy.

The week that Welch started back in school, her husband encountered a health scare and spent two nights in the ICU.

“It has been a rough ride, trying to juggle all of those factors while trying to graduate, but I am happy to say that as of now, everyone is happy and healthy and I am on track to be both a new mother and graduate in a span of a few weeks!” she said.

Welch credits the AET faculty for their support and encouragement of her enrolling back to school which gave her the chance to complete her degree.

“Being able to reflect on the last 10 years, during my final semester with CSU and with the support and guidance of my professors and fellow students, has allowed me to really synthesize it all into my own teaching practice going forward,” she said.

After graduating this December, Welch is anticipating the delivery of her baby boy and wants to work to advocate for the mental health of veterinary workers and students overall. She is also planning to look into online teaching opportunities.

The School of Education is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

Read about more of the outstanding graduates in the College of Health and Human Sciences.