Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Congratulations to the 2018 Student Commencement Speaker: Sondra Allen!

Back in November 2017, Peirce was honored to share Sondra Allen’s heartfelt story with the community showing her perseverance, determination and tenacity. Today, Peirce is thrilled to announce that Sondra Allen, Class of 1986, 2016, and now 2018, will be the Student Commencement Speaker at the 153rd Commencement Ceremony!

In addition to being the student speaker and receiving her Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management, Sondra is also the 2018 Recipient of the Alumni Association Raymond L. Palzer '52 Leadership Award and the Patricia A. Rucker Graduate Studies Award for Academic Excellence. Sondra has certainly left her mark with Peirce College! Before she crosses the stage and becomes an official alumna for the last time, we asked Sondra a few questions as she reflects back on the past 32 years of her Peirce experience.

How does it feel to be receiving your third degree from Peirce? I am proud, humbled and, of course, excited! My goal was always to achieve two degrees, but once Peirce developed the master’s program, the third degree entered the equation. I originally was comparing a few schools when looking into my graduate degree, but once my husband and I came back to visit, it was a no-brainer. Peirce is home for me and I knew I wanted to stay home.

How was your time with Peirce College? Going to Peirce has been such a great experience for me. I had the privilege to study under the tutelage of great professors. I had the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of fellow students and build networks. I was able to form and develop life-long friendships. The Lord knew what He was doing when He sent me here. Everything happens according to His plan. I first attended Peirce right out of high school back in 1984. At that time I felt it was a necessity. My focus was earning a degree to allow the opportunity for a permanent position and set a positive example for other teenage parents. When I returned to Peirce in 2014, I was here because I wanted to be. I wanted to learn and grow. This was not a forced decision; it was for personal growth, development and self-achievement.

What are some of your favorite memories from Peirce? There are so many! Joining the Graduate Student Association (GSA) board allowed me the opportunity to participate in many Peirce events, network and dine on delicious food Peirce provides at these events. My fellow GSA board members and I had some great times hanging out after class and building bonds. I enjoyed participating in Peirce Open House events where my fellow GSA Board members and I had the opportunity to interact, encourage and share our Peirce stories with potential graduate students. Participating in those events, allowed peer-to-peer networking that I hope in some way helped increase student enrollment. Also, I enjoyed participating in Capstone Boot Camp events; it provided a great foundation and overview of what’s expected in the OLM 590 Capstone Course. It provided a wealth of information, tips and steps needed for a strong preparation for the final course of the program. Further, it allowed for an opportunity to ask questions of faculty and other students who have been through and completed their capstone. I encourage ALL graduate students to participant in Capstone Boot Camp. Another fond memory was working on the many team projects throughout the graduate program. It was so much fun creating and developing processes and sharing ideas. Working in teams is a great opportunity to enhance your skills, share your strengths, and learn from others.

What are some of your most influential moments from Peirce? Witnessing the strength of my fellow classmates. Even when my classmates were going through personal hardships, I saw them press on and complete all their assignments; that was very encouraging and inspiring for me. Also the pure passion for success of each student from my professors was influential for me. The professors believed in me, saw my potential and motivated me beyond my comfort zone. Whether it was through learning APA or how to write a purpose statement or even just workplace skills and experiences, they helped my development. With the influence of fellow classmates and professors, I got through this journey. I appreciate and value every single one of them.

What advice would you offer to other working adults who are considering going back to school? If furthering your education is one of your top goals then please go for it! It is never too late. If it continues to be in the back of your mind then you need to reflect on why it’s there and why you’ve been pushing it aside. Develop a list of pros and cons and create a plan. Furthering your education will be so rewarding in the end whether it is personally, professionally or a combination of both. I am so glad I did it and I don’t have a single regret.

What advice would you offer to fellow students who are not quite at graduation yet, but are chasing their educational dreams? I am proud of you. I know not many of us hear that enough, so I am proud of you. You are here. You are pursuing your educational dreams and that is so wonderful. I encourage you to allow time for studying, work, family and personal activities - work-life balance is important. We all have a journey and will experience difficulties along the way; but we will also experience achievements and success. Don’t give up, stay focused, work hard and remember the reason why YOU are chasing your educational dreams. One day soon you will get to look back and say, “I did it” and that feeling makes it all worth it.

Congratulations to Sondra Allen and the entire Class of 2018!

Check back in throughout the summer as we continue to feature and share some of the Class of 2018’s inspirational stories.