Friday, November 3, 2017

Beating the Odds One Degree at a Time

“I wanted to prove to those family members who did not believe in me that I could become somebody. I wanted to prove to society that I was not just another teenage parent statistic. Most of all I wanted to show my children that although we face challenges in our lives and may get knocked down at times, we can still press on and use those challenges as fuel to succeed.” – Sondra Allen

A working mom, a dedicated student and an inspiration to the community: Sondra Allen first became a Peirce College student in 1984.

Upon graduating high school, Sondra knew being a young mom would add some challenges as she made the decision to further her education. She already had overcome most peoples’ expectations after having her first child in 10th grade and still choosing to pursue her high school diploma. Sondra knew attending college would certainly defy some odds and cause some controversy. But, that didn’t stop Sondra; it inspired her.

After working with her high school counselor and doing some personal reflection, Sondra found Peirce to be the college she needed to succeed. For Sondra, it was the “perfect fit” for where she was in her life. “[Peirce] would be a perfect fit for me and my situation. It had a great reputation, it was local and not too far from where I was working,” explains Sondra of why she decided to join the Peirce community.

In 1986, Sondra conquered her first goal and graduated with an Associate in Science for Administrative Office Assistance. This accomplishment was what she needed to continue moving forward with her career and life. But, in the back of Sondra’s mind, she knew she had always wanted that four-year degree, and she wasn’t fully done yet.

But as it happens to most, after completing her first degree, life got in the way. “I, like many other adult learners, had life situations impede me from pursuing a four-year college or for some, continuing an education right out of high school,” says Sondra. “Years get behind us, and before we know it, life experiences have placed us in situations where we come to realize, a change is needed. We feel stuck.”

She knew it was time to return to school, despite how long she’d been away from it. She was ready for more.

So after twenty-eight years, Sondra returned to Peirce!

In 2014, Sondra started classes again, and before she knew it was graduating with that bachelor’s degree she had always dreamed of. But, once again, Sondra had the desire to do more.

This time – there was no waiting. In 2016, the same year she graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Management, Sondra enrolled in Peirce’s Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management (MSOLM) program.

“I chose the [MSOLM] program because it was in my field of work, and it would give me the opportunity to further my career,” says Sondra. “The course work in the Graduate Studies Program is directly connected to my professional life, as I believed it would give me a better understanding of the ‘behind the scenes’ of management that I was not familiar with. Learning about the different types of management styles, strategic planning, human resources, finances/budgeting and research methods, to name a few, allows me the exposure of the detailed work it takes to manage an office.”

As Sondra continues beating the odds as a former teen mom chasing her master’s degree, she still finds time to connect with students on how they, too, can accomplish their goals no matter who they are or where they come from. Sondra is currently in the Vice President position of the Graduate Student Association where she also has served as a Student Senator in 2016. This has allowed her the opportunity to share her story while also gaining leadership experience.

As of June 2018, Sondra will walk across the commencement stage for the third time. She’ll be surrounded by the Peirce community who has watched her grow over the past 34 years chasing the dream she has had since she was a little girl. We are all so proud of Sondra and cannot wait to watch her continue to grow in her career and motivate others with her enthusiasm, dedication and inspirational story.

If you or someone you know is interested in returning to school, like Sondra did, contact an Enrollment Specialist today at 215.670.9000 or