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Former Curry County resident enters graduate school at 62

Kathy Jarchow
Kathy Jarchow with her family; from left to right is grandson Tyler, daughter in-law Gina, son Matt and granddaughter Heather.

Former Gold Beach resident and Southwestern Oregon Community College graduate Kathy Jarchow received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Augusta State University in Augusta, GA, in May.  

Days later she was back in the classroom as a graduate student in Special Education. This fall when she enters the classroom, Jarchow will be a first-year teacher for the Richmond County School District in Augusta. One could say that Jarchow took the long route to becoming a college graduate and fulfilling her lifelong ambition of becoming a teacher.

Jarchow graduated from Brookings-Harbor High School in 1963, and then attended Oregon Technical Institute for a term before transferring to Southern Oregon College in search of  “culture.”  There she discovered boys and alcohol, was put on academic probation and quit. Next she tried business school in Portland, again dropping out and taking her first job at an insurance company earning $275 per month.

I recommend furthering your education to everyone – no matter how old you are. Education is so important these day...

In 1978, Jarchow moved back to Brookings from southern California. After 22 years as a secretary she found herself working for half her previous salary and rethinking what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.  

“Think back to when you were five years old; what did you want to be when you grew up?” she recalls someone asked her.

“A movie star, hairdresser, secretary or teacher,” she replied.

After driving to North Bend five days a week for 17 months, Jarchow graduated from beauty school in 1985 and opened KJ’s Hair House in Gold Beach a month later.  

In 2000, looking ahead to a future move to South Carolina to be closer to her husband’s children, Jarchow again found herself pondering what she wanted to be when she “grew up.”

Twenty-five years after saying she would never go back to school, Jarchow decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a teacher. That fall she enrolled in her first classes at the Southwestern Gold Beach Center. Jarchow remembers being scared to death and being so discouraged after missing 17 questions on her first math test.  

But she also remembers her teacher, Larry Vincent, upping her grade on that first test to boost her confidence, as well as the thrill of earning an A on her second test. Jarchow persevered, juggling her business and clients with a three-quarter-time class load until her graduation from Southwestern in 2004. By the end of summer, KJ’s Hair House was closed, her possessions boxed up or given to friends and she and her husband Jim were off to South Carolina for the next chapter of their lives.

“It has been a long haul but well worth it,” she said. “I recommend furthering your education to everyone – no matter how old you are. Education is so important these days and the young must realize that they will get nowhere without it. Times have changed. The oldest student at Augusta State is in their 80s and is in graduate school. I am 62 years old and have found a profession that I absolutely love! It is never too late to go back to school.”