Carol Harcarik, Online Learner With A Dream

Carol Harcarik is 71-years-old and a SMLR student at Rutgers University, pursuing a degree online in Labor and Employment Relations (LER). The online program is allowing Carol to achieve her dreams.

Above: Carol Harcarik

“Only my age makes me a little different than other students. I entered the Online Program a few years back and have enjoyed being a student again even though it is hard work. I have learned so much and the professors have been outstanding." 

I left Douglas College at Rutgers, as a senior, many years ago, and realized when I was in my late 60’s that I better finish my dream before I ran out of time, so I entered Rutgers University's Online Program. I was lucky to find this incredible advisor, Betsy Feliciano-Berrios, who has helped me get through transferring all my credits and settled me into the Labor Studies major. The English Department at Rutgers has already given me a major in English, so I am just credits away from my dream.

I love going to school online; it is enabling me to get my degree from Rutgers while I live in Wisconsin. It is convenient and has been a fascinating experience. The high point was my course with Professor Paula Voos, when I was negotiating a union contract and actually became an avatar on my computer and was able to move around as someone would in reality. It was amazing and my grandchildren were so impressed they told me they thought I was 'awesome.' Another interesting part of that course was that I was able to talk with other people in my class and share some experiences with online learning.

I grew up on a farm in New Jersey with my brother and my hardworking parents. My brother was given the opportunity to go to college, and my parents thought it would be good for me to take secretarial courses and be a mom. Don't forget, that was the 50’s, and that’s how the world was.

Rights for children, women and blacks did not enter the mindset of the U.S. until the amazing 60’s, when it changed for all of us. Blacks became the focal point of the Civil Rights Movement and women became feminists fighting for their rights and the rights of children. No-fault divorce laws were passed and a new world opened up to me. By then, I was married, raising two children and was a community activist helping to fight for all those rights.

After the 60’s, when human rights began to settle into the country's psyche, I started to make adjustments in my thinking. When I turned 30 years of age, I made two big decisions: get a divorce and go to college. At college, I had to start at the very bottom and take college preparatory courses, but I was committed. I settled on an English major, worked very hard, and did well. After a few years at community colleges and a year at Ryder College in New Jersey, I decided to try to enroll in Douglas College at Rutgers. I was accepted.

I also remarried and had two more children. As they got older, I often thought of going back to school, but it was tougher now raising four children, and my husband, who was a corporate attorney, was transferred to New York and then Wisconsin. As my children finished college, got married, had my grandchildren, my dream started to re-enter my mind and now it is in sight.

During the time I was raising my children, I became established as a journalist, writing as an investigative reporter for newspapers and even writing two major books. One, with the Mayo Clinic, on post-partum depression called, Mommies Cary Too and another on Restorative Justice that is now being sold as a textbook for colleges who have criminal justice majors. Currently I am continuing my writing by publishing an online newsletter for my community in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. I now have a readership of about 500 subscribers. I love doing the online newsletter and being an online student at Rutgers.”

~Carol Harcarik

Learn more about the online program in Labor and Employment Relations.