Skip to main contentSkip to main navigationSkip to footer content

Julianna Kilpatrick


Julianna Kilpatrick

Grad Stories (2014)

Julianna Kilpatrick had a good life, holding down an executive position with Viacom in product placement.

And then it hit.

Not the recession - cancer.

Kilpatrick, 39, beat the cancer, but lost her career.

“The doctors told me I couldn’t continue in my present career due to the workload,” Kilpatrick said. Attempting to salvage her future, she began re-examining her life, reviewing her goals coming out of high school in 1990.

“I wanted to get into sports medicine. At that time, it was impossible for women to have a career in the field, but now women have broken into the sports industry as reporters, athletic trainers, and sports medicine (professionals). I felt my dream could be achieved now.”

With renewed passion, Kilpatrick, a single mother at the time, dove right in, enrolling at Norco College 21 years after graduating from high school. She and her classmates will celebrate their accomplishments at the commencement ceremony on June 12.

For Kilpatrick the journey has been intimidating, yet fulfilling.

“I’d tell single mothers to just do it (return to school),” she said. “The sooner you start, the sooner you are on the journey to a better life. It's incredibly intimidating to risk failure, wonder how out of place you will feel sitting in a classroom, and if you have the ability to handle the schoolwork. I had the same fears. By engaging and becoming involved on campus I found the inspiration to continue on when times got tough.”

Kilpatrick will leave Norco College with a 4.0 grade point average and two associate of arts degrees. She will continue her education at the University of Texas, working toward a degree in Pre-Med Exercise Science, ATEP (Athletic Training Exercise Program), before beginning the Physician's Assistant in Sports Medicine program.

“It was a lot of hard work,” she said on maintaining a 4.0 GPA. “Essentially it's about time management and organization. I created study buddies/groups in each class, used an application called iStudies Pro, inputting important dates with alerts. I also used study groups before major tests. Sharing information with others is a great way to find mastery in a subject.”

Kilpatrick also leaned heavily on her family, including children Brenna and Jack, and boyfriend, Robert Tollett, who attends Norco College. Together they created a workflow chart for daily chores and cooking, giving Kilpatrick time to study. She also credited the staff of Norco College, saying the College is like “family.”

She says she’ll cherish one thing above all else – knowledge.

“The knowledge of myself and my abilities. The knowledge of academia and how all subjects combine, allowing me to grow, become educated. The knowledge of empowerment in achieving my goals despite those who said I could not, and pursuing those goals I have not yet reached.”