Melissa Jensen grew up in Boise, Idaho but has spent most of her adult life living in either Juneau or Hawaii. She is part of a Coast Guard family currently living in Hawaii, though they plan to retire in Juneau in about six years.
“We own a house there and love everything about Juneau,” Jensen said.
“I didn’t attend college right after high school, mostly because I really wasn’t ready, but I always had the desire to eventually attend and earn a degree. I chose to be a full-time parent while my children were small. Once our children were all in school, I felt ready to dedicate all my free time — and some of my not-so-free time — to gaining an education.” she said.
Jensen loved being in the classroom, having spent the first four semesters of her degree attending classes on campus. She took the final three semesters online due to an unexpected move.
“Although I am very grateful for the tremendous availability of online classes, I found that I really missed the interaction of being on campus and in the classroom. I love the smaller class sizes UAS offers. I always felt if I had questions or needed help the professor would know who I was and would be able to help me. I enjoyed the friendship of many of my classmates as well.” said Jensen.
Jensen intends to take “a short breather from school” as her family will be moving again next summer. She hopes to continue her education, working toward a bachelor’s degree, once she is back in Juneau and can attend classes in person, she said.
“I have been slowly building my own business and hope to expand my options in the future. For now, I am filling much of my free time volunteering as the president of a children’s organization near my home in Mililani, Hawaii. Eventually, when my husband retires from the Coast Guard, we would love to run a bed and breakfast in Juneau,” said Jensen of her plans for the future.
Currently, Jensen is working as a freelance photographer and also designs, creates and sells photography and handmade items. In her free time she enjoys reading, hiking, going to the beach, sewing, and being a “cross country/track mom.”
Being a parent and a student is tough and it takes more than the student to make it happen.
“I would like to thank my husband, Darwin, for being so supportive of me and my desire to earn a college degree. He stepped up to help in every way while I was submersed in textbooks, essays, deadlines and general craziness. He did laundry, vacuumed, helped kids with homework, and cheered me on when I was having a hard time. My four children were also an immense support to me. They were understanding when I couldn’t be or do everything they were used to and gave me “knuckles” and high fives whenever I got good grades.”