Monday, July 20, 2020

Meet Robin Neary – the Class of 2020 Student Commencement Speaker

This story was originally published on Peirce College's website found here.

Robin Neary was able to work her way up the ladder in retail progressing from a sales person in the stores to an executive in corporate.

One day, she was having a conversation with a former boss, and that conversation ignited a whole new mindset.

“During one of my jobs, I was talking to my boss at the time and she told me how an applicant for a role wasn’t eligible for a promotion because they didn’t have their bachelor’s degree. My response was, ‘well I don’t have mine’ and my boss told me to keep that quiet and never tell anyone that. That felt like such a blow and made me really think about a lot of things in my life.”

A few years passed after this conversation, but Robin never forgot how it made her feel. When she was ready to transition out of retail into a new career, Robin realized that conversation had more truth to it than she could have ever imagined.

She said, “When I was attempting to move out of retail, it became obvious no one was looking at my resume. It wasn’t even making it through the algorithm into the first step because I didn’t have a bachelor’s degree.”

That is when Robin decided she was ready to enroll and change her future.

Robin partnered with Graduate! Philadelphia to find out more about adult education in the Philadelphia area. She met with Blake Scull, one of Peirce’s Enrollment Specialists, at a Graduate! Philadelphia event and the rest was history.

“I knew at the event, everyone was going to try and sell me their school, but I have been in sales a long time, so I knew what was authentic and what wasn’t. Blake was truly authentic and spoke to me like a person, listening to my story, providing his personal experience, and making me feel ready to tackle school,” explained Robin. “I had felt so competent in my career for so long, so to think of having to go back to school in my 40s felt crazy. Blake had all the right things to say, though, and the way he described Peirce made me feel like that was where I belonged.”

When it came time for Robin to select a program at Peirce, she was set on finding the one that would get her the degree as quickly as possible in the most affordable way. Luckily, Robin had earned a lot of college credits back in the 90s and was able to transfer those in to expedite her process.

Robin said, “When I first tried out college, I was an English Literature major, so I had tons of humanities credits. I knew I wanted to finish my degree as soon as possible, so Peirce worked with me to find the best path. I was able to transfer in over 60 credits and through the Organizational Leadership program, could finish in no time.”

Robin enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership program in the Fall of 2018 eager to tackle this goal. Her only hesitation was having to take a math class. She had a math phobia and feared it would, once again, hold her back from completing her degree. Fortunately, Robin discovered Peirce’s Walker Center for Academic Excellence and tackled this fear with confidence and ease.

“I no longer have a math phobia thanks to my professors and the Walker Center for Academic Excellence!” exclaimed Robin. “I spent my first year working with tutors in the Walker Center and my professors helped me every step of the way. I felt prepared and cared for the entire time. One professor in particular, Dr. Charlene Glenn, who taught at least five of my courses, was especially supportive and amazing throughout my journey. She helped me through a lot and even wrote me a scholarship recommendation letter.”

Robin added, “There is no one at Peirce College who feels as though they are above you. Everyone you meet is willing to help you succeed.”

After conquering math phobia, that wasn’t the only bump Robin ran into. During three of Robin’s sessions at Peirce, she got very sick, which caused her to run into some delays with her schoolwork. She said, “Every professor was always so accommodating and understanding at Peirce. If I needed an extension, extra help, or just some advice, they were always willing to do what they could to see me succeed. Even in my final session, when I was taking the last classes I needed to graduate, I had pneumonia and all my professors made sure I finished so I could graduate and accomplish my goal.”

And Robin did just that. She completed her bachelor’s degree in May 2020 and was eager to officially celebrate her graduation on June 23rd. Before she got to that celebration, though, she found out even more exciting news.

“I was encouraged to apply to be the Class of 2020 Student Commencement Speaker by Dr. Charlene Glenn. In previous jobs, I had to do a lot of public speaking, so I thought it would be a wonderful experience to represent my class and the school, so I applied. I knew how talented all of my classmates were, though, so I didn’t anticipate getting it. To my surprise, though, I was awarded this honor and was thrilled to speak on behalf of the Class of 2020. This honor was so impactful and meaningful for me. It made my whole journey come full circle.”

Now, as recent graduate, Robin is eager to take her accomplishments into the workplace and go into some sort of training and development role where she can combine her work experience with her new degree.

Congratulations to Robin on all of her accomplishments!