Sometimes it’s the lowest points in life that lead to something amazing
WINONA LAKE – In 1995, eighteen-year-old Susanna Metzger eagerly began her second semester of college at IPFW, planning to study accounting. But when she received the news that she was pregnant, her college education was put on hold. Although unexpected, she loved being a mother to her daughter. Three years later, she had another child, a son. Susanna worked part-time for her dad’s trucking company. There, she was given a host of responsibilities like payroll, event planning, and accounting. This job and her family kept her busy for the next 20 years: responding to the demands of a family business, keeping things running smoothly from the back end, being a wife, and being a mother to her two children.
Fast forward to 2010, Susanna was riding her bike on the Winona Lake trails when she flipped over her handlebars after hitting a fallen tree. Her clavicle was dislocated, and she had severe neck pain. She went to see her doctor who ordered an MRI. When the doctor called with the results, he said, “Your shoulder pain will have to wait. We found something that needs your attention. There is an unusual growth on your thyroid.” After a biopsy, they found out that Susanna had thyroid cancer.
Surgery and radiation followed. As a result of her radiation treatment, Susanna spent an entire week isolated in her home – no visitors allowed. It was in that week that she had plenty of time to think, and ask herself, do I have any regrets? What decisions have been left unmade? At that moment one thought flooded her mind: “When I get better, I need to make some changes in my life.”
In the name of setting a good example for her children and furthering her career, Susanna resolved to go back to school.
When it came to choosing a program, Susanna at least knew where to start. Her older brother, Matt, had been enthusiastic about his experience at Grace’s GOAL program: a degree completion program for adults. However, with two young children at home and recently divorced, she didn’t see how it would work. Reluctantly, Susanna called Grace’s admissions and was thrilled to find out the GOAL program met once a week on the very night her children went to dinner at their father’s house. As Susanna put it, “It just seemed like it was meant to be!”
Going into the program, Susanna imagined herself, a 37-year-old single mother, in a room full of 20-somethings. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Susanna’s cohort was a diverse group, ages 20-65, of all different backgrounds and fields.
Together, they learned, they challenged, they bonded. “The courses that we took as a cohort were useful in everyday life,” said Susanna. “I especially found the HR class beneficial. I was able to use the principles of hiring, firing, and writing employee handbooks in my job at the trucking company right away.”
As Susanna honed her skills, she broadened her scope of expertise, earned an MBA, and took the title, Manager and CFO of Metzger Trucking Co. While bringing a new vision to her family business was valuable, that is not the end of her story.
The latest news: in less than a month, Susanna is moving to New Zealand! She and her husband started their own company in the rolling, green hills of Matamata where The Hobbit was filmed.
Packing her bags and preparing for the 8,000-mile move is not easy, but Susanna does so with a hopeful heart, “It’s scary, but it’s also exciting. What I learned at GOAL was so helpful for starting a business and many of the principles will directly transfer to my next role.” With 25 years of experience in the industry, Susanna is well equipped for the feat. But this time, her title will include the letters CEO.
“Recently, I read a quote that asks: ‘tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ As for me, I choose to use my education to do something wild. Hopefully, we will be successful, but regardless of the outcome, I am thankful for the experience of living in two incredible countries!”
For more information about Grace College’s GOAL program, visit www.grace.edu/academics/school-of-professional-online-education/ or contact Shirley Hunter Smith, at [email protected] or by phone at 888-995-1551. You too, can finish your degree and step into opportunities you never knew possible.