Kristen Rowe likes to joke she did everything backward.

In the normal course of life, “you grow up, go to school, get married, buy a house and have children,” she said.

But Rowe is anything but normal, and everything inspirational.

Rowe will graduate with her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, at the young age of 49. Her normal is anything but.

Rowe married young, went to college but didn’t finish, had children and eventually settled into the role of stay-at-home mom. Her then husband was a very successful businessman in Green Bay, Wisconsin — where Packers games and travel were the norm for the family.

“I lived a pretty spoiled life,” she said.

But in 2004 her husband got sick with an autoimmune disease. She spent the next six years taking care of him before his death in 2011.

Prior to his death, Rowe knew she had to do something. She finished her undergraduate degree in 2010, and started thinking about what was next.

“It came down to what I wanted to do for me,” she said. “I could have lived very frugally off a life insurance policy. But I chose a different path.”

That path, inevitably led her to Regis. While she was her husband’s caretaker, she became intimately familiar with the health care system. She knew she didn’t want to be a doctor or a nurse.

“When I sat down and thought about it, pharmacists were the ones that took the time to explain the most of what was happening,” she said. “The big thing was they always took the time to talk with me and see how I was doing. They knew how important that was.”

She applied and interviewed at several schools, but it was the personal touch that set Regis apart. Her interview day, blew her away. But it was the team-based learning environment—  a classroom experience is focused on the real-life application of course content — that sold her.

“Regis, to me, is such a wonderful environment,” she said. “It’s a great place to learn and study. Here you don’t sit and zone out in a lecture.”

Now with her degree, Rowe plans to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma to be closer to family. She is applying for jobs and pursuing a career for the first time in her life.

Despite a backward approach, Rowe said at each corner she realized there was a something to learn.  

“I’ve been a lifelong learner,” she said. “The day you stop learning is the day you start dying.”

Discover how Regis’ School of Pharmacy can help you find your path in life.