For non-traditional aged student Crystal Pringle, the path to Keene State College (KSC) was filled with twists and turns, but she’s finally found her passion in the geology department. Pringle is a 41-year-old student, majoring in geology at KSC.

“I struggled in high school tremendously,” Crystal said. “I was never academically inclined. I was always horrible at math and I loved science.”

Crystal said that she went to community college directly out of high school, but did not enjoy her experience, so she dropped out.

Crystal tried college again at the age of 23. “After several years, I tried college again. I was out after a semester,” Pringle said.

Crystal’s son, MIkey Valliere, is on the [Autism] spectrum, but is high functioning according to Crystal.

“Up until he was nine years old, you wouldn’t know there was something wrong with him,” Crystal said.

With her commitment to her son, Crystal said she missed classes for various reasons and said she kept trying to make it work but kept failing.

Finally, last spring, Crystal decided to give college one more try and came to Keene State College. Crystal said that she could tell KSC was exactly where she wanted to be.

“I’m where I belong. I haven’t had a sense of that in so long, maybe forever,” Crystal said.

She continued, “I loved the vibe of Keene. When I came for my first tour and met with the geology professors, they just got me, they got my passion.”

When Crystal came to Keene, she knew she was in the right place when she got in A in one of her first classes.

“I knew that I had so much more knowledge than I gave myself credit for,” Crystal said.

Part of the reason that the adjustment was so difficult for Crystal was because of the number of students that are non-traditionally aged at KSC.

“At community college, I was definitely not the old person,” Crystal said. She continued to say that there are very few adult learners here at KSC compared to her past experiences, and that traditional students, “didn’t know how to take [her].”

Crystal said that while she may not be the same age as many of her peers, she faces the same struggles as any other college student.

“I have the same pressures that regular students go through, just a little bit different,” Crystal said. “I’m actually going through the same thing you are.”

Crystal said that, eventually, other students realized that as well and she has since formed friendships.

“People figured out that I’m not that different and I’ve gotten some really close friends at Keene,” Crystal said.

Crystal’s husband, Travis Pringle, works in the Zorn Dining Commons at KSC and has been there to support Crystal through her journey.

“I think it’s pretty profound,” Travis said. “[Crystal] was able to overcome adversities and still keep a positive mindset and go get her goals.”

Crystal said she wouldn’t be so successful at Keene if not for her husband.

“He seriously pushed me when I felt stupid. He gets me to see laughter and get through life,” Crystal said.

Travis also said that Crystal fits in well at KSC, it’s clear why she succeeds.

“It’s a perfect place for her to thrive as a successful college student,” Travis said.

Two professors who Crystal said have been influential on her since arriving at KSC were Steven Bill and Carol Leger. After several attempts to contact both Bill and Leger, both were unavailable for comment.

As far as her love for science, Crystal describes her passion for geology as something most people can’t see.

“When I look at a rock, I see a story, I see history. I see a piece of a puzzle that will tell me what happened here,” Crystal said.

Crae Messer can be contacted at

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