THE N ONTRADITIONAL STUDENT
classes. That semester, Petsiavas lost her
childcare when her son's grandm.other was
hospitalized. Then Petsiavas got sick, and so
did her son. As Alex heard his mom's
retelling, he backed her up, announcing in
proud crescendo, "I was throwing up really
bad, bad, bad, bad!"
Most of her professors have been
"I regret not going, maybe at a younger
age, without having responsibilities, with-
out having a child," she said, as Alex inter-
rupted her to ask whether strawberries
have skin and bones.
The time is now
Other nontraditional students find that
they returned to college at just the right
time. Roland Siverson ' 96 took the
proverbial year off after high school, travel-
ing the world, and then worked as a car-
penter for 12 years.
"The trades are great when you're
young," he said. "But you start to age out."
He took the SAT, applied to UNC and
was accepted as a freshman. He was 37 and
enjoyed being part of a conm1.Unity with
the goal, simply, to learn. "It was a rare
opportunity I wish other working people
It took him seven years to finish
because he took a semester off at one
point and attended part time at another.
But he emerged at 44, with a calling that
he hadn't imagined before college: hospice
nurse. "I could not have asked for a better
unfolding of my life," he said.
Many other nontraditional students
entered Carolina as freshmen but did so
years ago. These "readmit" students may
have been away for five years or 55 years.
Carolina assumes a commitment to stu-
dents who were admitted, no matter how
long ago. Many professional athletes fall in
this category. So do many whose illness,
accident, finances, family, poor grades or
even just wanderlust led them to step off
the college path for a time.
Milton Cooke came to UNC as a
freshman in 1953, but he lasted just two
years."My grades were always haunting
me when I was here," he remembered. He
had done well in high school without try-
ing, but this strategy didn't work at UNC.
He amassed a slew of extracurricular
accomplishments, including president of
his pledge class (though his GPA didn't
'I could not have askedfor a better urifolding if my life.'
Roland Siverson ' 96
allow him to go active) and dorm rep to
the student government. Then his dad told
him he was out of money.
"I left and said, 'I'll be back: and it took
me 47 years to get back," Cooke said.
But diploma or not, Cooke was suc-
cessful, first in the travel industry in Cali-
fornia, organizing charter tours and then
internationally, planning trade exhibitions,
Roland Siverson ' 96 was a carpenter until he entered UNC as a
freshman at 37. Today, he is a hospice nurse but hasn't given up his
former trade entirely - his house
sits behind him as evidence.