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When thinking of graduation, it is easy to envision the traditional 22-year-old living with four roommates in an old apartment in the center of Lexington. However, this stereotypical image of university life isn't always the case.

It certainly wasn't the case for Anji Chester.

Chester arrived in 2017 at the University of Kentucky as a 29-year-old, neurodivergent, student veteran, and single parent of two, having completed their associate degree at a community college. They relied on the resources of the veteran's center as well as academic accommodations to ensure a successful transition from community college to the university.

“There is all this thinking that university is only for people who are 18 and on their parents’ dollar but there are so many programs to support nontraditional students,” said Chester. “The resources are there. You might have to work a little to connect with them, but there are so many people at UK who want the fullness of who you are as a person and student to succeed.”

Chester’s successful transition was a significant factor in completing their degree in electrical engineering in May 2022 and being chosen for the Lexmark Technical Rotation program.

The Technical Rotation program spans two years and includes three eight-month rotations. Its purpose is to recruit and hire top, diverse, entry-level talent while exposing them to various aspects of the business to better prepare them for future leadership roles, whether technical or managerial. At the end of the program, participants are placed in a business area that aligns with their background and interests.

“It is almost like being an intern for two years but also a full-time employee,” said Chester. “The cool thing is that you get to choose your first rotation from a list given to you and then for your second and third, you get to interview managers and find out about other teams and what other’s experiences with the teams have been. This is a great opportunity for corporate internal networking.”

Chester attributes their academic success, in part, to the resources and flexibility they were provided by programs like Student Support Services at UK. When considering their career options after graduation, they realized that flexibility remained a core value. Consequently, Lexmark quickly emerged as a top contender.

Lexmark offers “Flex at Lex” allowing employees to work in the office for 2-3 days and remotely for 2-3 days. “My rotation has been very generous with allowing me to leave when I need to pick up my kids from school and to complete my tasks at home that day or over the weekend,” said Chester. 

Additionally, Lexmark fulfills Chester’s professional aspirations. “Lexmark provides so many opportunities to get involved outside their on-paper-job description with [Lexmark’s] diversity network groups and community service projects going on,” said Chester. “If you want to go to work and have it be more than just your on-paper-job or make friends who don’t work in the same department, there is the opportunity to do that.”

For students interested in Lexmark's Technical Rotation Program for new graduates or internships for current students, Chester recommends exploring available positions at the Lexmark careers website while completing their degree to get involved with Lexmark's pipeline at an early stage.

In terms of being successful both academically and professionally, Chester offers the following: “lean into your weird, you don’t have to pretend to be normal.”