Wednesday, September 4, 2013

“Why didn’t I do this earlier?” Working mom returns to college to earn her bachelor’s degree

FOR FAMILY: Jennifer is earning her bachelor's
degree for herself and her family
Working moms already have a lot on their plates – they often balance building their careers, providing for their families, and giving back to their communities. Adding college student to that list might feel daunting, but for working mom Jennifer Shaw, it’s a step toward a life goal she set for herself a long time ago.

Jennifer earned her associate degree in Medical Practice Management at Peirce 18 years ago and has always seen it as just the beginning of her lifelong learning journey. But between raising her son as a single mother and working her way up the career ladder with the City of Philadelphia, the timing was never right – until now. Jennifer is returning to Peirce College this year through our Readmit program to achieve her dream of earning her bachelor’s degree.

Jennifer is a Philadelphia native, and grew up with her close-knit family in the Kensington area. With her grandmother living next door and three aunts on her block, she felt very supported by her family to continue her education. She graduated from high school in 1990 and took a semester off to decide what she wanted to do.

“I knew that I wanted to go to college, but I didn’t feel that I was ready for a large university,” said Jennifer. “I heard good things about Peirce while I was in my senior year. I went to the open house and I felt extremely comfortable, so that’s why I chose it.”

Jennifer enrolled in Peirce in January 1991, and earned her associate degree in Medical Practice Management. She graduated in 1995, and began working at the Frankford Hospital Division, where she did bookkeeping in the pharmacy. She stayed there for about a year and then got the chance to work for the City of Philadelphia as a 911 dispatcher. She spent the next 15 years climbing the career ladder while working for the City.

She has spent the past three years working as the Executive Secretary to the Director of the Division of Disease Control with the Department of Public Health. It was here that Jennifer realized she had risen as far in her career as she could go without a bachelor’s degree. She decided to return to Peirce because of her great experience earning her associate degree, and began the application process last year.

When speaking with Renee Morrison from Admissions, Jennifer learned about the Mayor's Scholarship for City of Philadelphia Residents and Employees, which offers a full tuition Peirce scholarship to a city employee. She decided to go for it and recently found out that she had been chosen to win the scholarship! Now Jennifer can concentrate fully on attending her classes, working full time, and raising her 12-year-old son without the additional stress on her finances.

Jennifer begins taking classes this Session toward her bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration. Since her office is located just a few blocks from the College’s convenient Center City campus, she’s able to walk to her classes right after work. She plans to take advantage of classes offered both on-campus and online. Beyond her classes, she can’t wait to get involved in extracurricular activities. She already knows she wants to join the mentoring program and Health Programs Student Association.

Jennifer’s future is looking bright. With her bachelor’s degree in hand, she will have more opportunities for career advancement and is looking forward to seeing what doors open for her. She’d also love to continue her lifelong learning journey by pursuing a master’s degree in healthcare.

Jennifer has some advice for other working parents who want to earn their college degrees. “I just think anybody else who wants to earn a college degree should just go for it,” she said. “There’s so much flexibility nowadays, everybody’s extremely professional, and the schedules are incredibly convenient. You’re going to think to yourself, ‘Why didn’t I do this earlier?’”

Thanks for sharing your story, and good luck on earning your degree, Jennifer!