Friday, May 23, 2014

Featured Learner Series: Mother and son fulfill their academic goals together at Peirce

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Cathy Arnold will graduate on June 9;
Chris in August of 2015
In the Arnold household, it isn’t unusual for Chris to remind his mother, Cathy, to do her homework. In fact, over the past few years, this role reversal has become the norm in their family. Today, both Cathy and Chris are enrolled at Peirce College and are encouraging each other along the way.

Cathy was born in the West Oak Lane area of Philadelphia, where she finished high school early, at the age of 16. She applied to the Community College of Philadelphia shortly after, but decided instead to pursue a job opportunity with the Internal Revenue Service. Five years later, her son Chris was born and Cathy dedicated her time to motherhood and succeeding in the workforce.

 In January 2008, Cathy was sidelined for a bit while recovering from routine surgery. During her time at home, she saw a blurb for Graduate! Philadelphia flash across the screen while Action News was on. “I saw that Graduate! Philadelphia was dedicated to adults that are trying to go back to school. I saw that they will help you research which school is right for you and help with the legwork. Once I began that process, it became clear that Peirce College was the best fit for me.  They had the most focus on adult learners and support services geared specifically toward us,” she says of her experience.

In June 2011, Cathy earned her associate’s degree in the Business Administration Program with a concentration in Accounting. Today, she is preparing to graduate with the 2014 class on June 9 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

Like his mother, Chris stayed in the Philadelphia area to attend high school. After graduation, he was accepted to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he studied marketing. During that time, Chris began to notice that the academic world was changing. “During my years as an undergrad at IUP, I heard murmurs of how a bachelor’s degree was becoming the new high school diploma.  It made me seriously consider the value in pursuing graduate level education.”

When he heard about Peirce’s graduate program through his mother, Chris knew it was the opportunity he had been waiting for to build a solid educational background that would make him an asset to any organization. “I could see from my mom’s interactions with Peirce, the College’s events and her success that it would be a great opportunity for me. I feel like the program really speaks to where I am headed in the future.” Chris will graduate in August 2015 with a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management.

Cathy and Chris both experienced a transition period as they eased into becoming students again, and the support from the Peirce faculty and community is something they both agree has been instrumental in their success. For Cathy, it was having her professors spend extra time with her when it came to the more challenging course material. “I’ve always been able to have my professors work with me if that’s what I needed at the time. They’ve always been very supportive,” she says.

Chris is part of our inaugural graduate program, and describes it as being a part of something special. “It’s been a fun adventure for me. I’ve had a lot of fun going through the new program because all my classmates and professors are excited about it. Everyone has high expectations and is putting their best foot first, asking a lot of questions, and taking leadership roles in getting feedback,” he says. “Without the support of my professors and classmates, I think I might have been intimidated by the pressure and might not have been able to perform at the level I have been so far.”

Today, Chris works at Reverse Mortgage Group, and will use his degree to achieve his aspiration of becoming a CEO – he is particularly interested in becoming a leader within the Philadelphia school district. After graduation, Cathy is looking to follow in her son’s footsteps and pursue a graduate degree in Financial Planning.  

And of course, they couldn’t have done it without each other. We’ll leave you with this from Chris: “My mom being the student that she is and being successful throughout her years at Peirce, means that high expectations were certainly set for me. She achieved and maintains high standards and she looks to me to follow through on those.”

Cathy, congratulations on your upcoming graduation, and best of luck to Chris as you continue to pursue your graduate degree. We’re sure we will see great things from both of you!