Michelle Kelenske

  • Undergraduate Institution: Baker College
  • Undergraduate Major(s) & Degree(s) Achieved:
    Business Administration Concentration Human Resources Management Bachelor’s Degree
  • Graduate Major(s) & Degree(s) Achieved: 
    Career and Technical Education concentration Post-Secondary Administration Master of Science, Advanced Quality Certificate in Education
  • Graduate Institution: Ferris State University


Why did you decide to attend college? 

Originally, I attended because I was expected to by my parents.  I failed miserably, not once but twice.  After working in three different factories for 10 years and a head on collision with a drunk driver it was time to go back to school for me. 

How did you learn that you were a first generation college student?

I learned this because nobody in my family had college degree at the time.   As a matter fact when I went back to school in my late twenties, my Mom and her sisters were also in college trying to get their education. 

What support system or mentors did you have in college?

In my undergraduate none.  During my graduate program, I had one.  There were not many programs to help first generation students back then.  I had originally qualified for a financial aid program called TIP the first time I went to school right out of high school.

What were your personal, family or community strengths that motivated you to persist to graduation?

I had two daughters so college was never out of the picture for me.  I knew I had to complete to get where I wanted to be for employment.  

What surprised you most about your college experience?

How much I cared about my grades the when I came back and was truly ready for college.  In addition, the rigor and relevance required from the associates level to the bachelors completion.  It was far more work than the master’s degree.

Related to your achievement, what are you most proud of when you look back today?

Surviving, no seriously, it would be completely with honors, while raising two teenage daughters as a single Mom, and working 32 hours a week.  

What advice do you have to a first generation college student pursuing a degree at Ferris?

If you fail, start over, find a different path, it can and will happen if you want it badly enough.