Currently pursuing Master of Public Administration
Ronda Baldwin-Kennedy’s path to becoming a lawyer and launching her own successful law firm was littered with seemingly insurmountable roadblocks. But with her intense determination coupled with the flexibility of the online classroom, Ronda was able to complete her degree at Ashford University while also attending law school, working, and even giving birth to triplets!
Ronda credits family for her strength in overcoming adversity. Born in Milwaukee, WI, she was raised by her grandparents in a small town just outside the city. Despite being the only African-American family in a town with limited diversity, Ronda’s grandmother successfully owned and operated a small business and her great-grandfather had fought to become the first African-American elected to the Wisconsin State Legislature.
Despite her role models at home, success was not immediate and certainly didn’t come easy for Ronda. She struggled to fit in with her classmates and eventually dropped out of school – settling instead for her GED. She went on to take classes at community college while transitioning through several roles working for the city of Milwaukee, ultimately obtaining a coveted - and historically male-dominated – position as city building inspector. Unfortunately, this became a bittersweet opportunity as, according to Ronda, she and her few female colleagues were subjected to inappropriate comments and actions from their male co-workers. Eventually, Ronda had enough and knew that she needed to stand up for herself and her colleagues. So when supervisors failed to take action, she went on to successfully bring suit against the city.
Although difficult at the time, the experience gave Ronda a newfound respect and appreciation for the law – one that would drastically alter her career interests. She chose to move out of Wisconsin and headed west, eventually settling down in California and enrolling in an online law school while working at a law firm. Practicing law would be her priority; however, with politics already in her blood, she knew that public service would remain her passion. With this new focus and a resulting relentless drive, she chose to also enroll at Ashford University in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government. But if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, midway through her degree program Ronda became pregnant... with triplets! Ronda spent 3 1⁄2 months in the hospital due to complications with her pregnancy. As she recalls, “One of the first calls I made on my way to the hospital was to my academic advisor.” She explained that she was able to take a brief break between classes when needed, which wasn’t an option with her other program. But she remained focused on her studies and graduated from Ashford in spring 2013, just a few months after giving birth to her triplets. She went on to graduate from law school later that year, pass the California bar exam in 2014, and start her own law firm in 2015.
According to Ronda, “I could not have achieved my academic goals without Ashford University.” She credits the support of Ashford and the help of her advisors for being able to manage the daunting challenges of becoming a mother, working, and completing her education.
Ronda’s remarkable story doesn’t end there. After looking into several graduate degree programs, Ronda decided to reenroll at Ashford University in pursuit of a Master of Public Administration at the University’s University was based in large part to Ashford’s flexible online programs and the individualized support she received from counselors and faculty.
Ronda’s story is a true inspiration. As of fall 2015, just six months after taking her attorney’s oath of office, Ronda accepted a partner position at a nearby law firm and continues to pursue her Master’s degree at Ashford, where she maintains a 4.0 GPA.