Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management, 2010
"Ashford allowed me to reach my goals and dreams with a lot of hard work, and I thoroughly believe I got out what I put in."
Anne Kelly, 49, lives in Seattle, Washington where she is the director of a not-for-profit preschool and childcare center. She was born to young parents in a small town in Wyoming, and her mother passed away before she was even a year old. She lived with her grandparents for a while, and then with various family members. “I went to six different grade schools, two middle schools, and two high schools,” she explains. After high school, she attended one quarter of college, but then withdrew. “I was not ready for the experience of living on campus and I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career.”
She was married at 21, and became a mother at 22. After the birth of her first son, she realized that her passion was early learning; she became an Assistant Teacher for Head Start in 1985. She subsequently became a preschool teacher and then a program manager before reaching her current position as director.
Anne explains that her interest in education stems in part from the fact that her mother had a tenth grade education, and her father was illiterate. “I watched my family struggle because of their lack of formal education. I lived in poverty for parts of my childhood as a result (I believe) of my father’s inability to read or write.”
While working and raising her two sons, Anne became the first in her family to earn a college degree - an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education. When she learned that the accreditation rules for her not-for-profit were changing, she decided it was time to pursue a Bachelor’s degree. “The program I run is a nationally accredited facility (by the National Association for the Education of Young Children), and part of the emerging criteria is that people in leadership positions must have a minimum of a four-year degree, regardless of experience. This was a great motivator for me to go back to school.”
Once enrolled in Ashford University’s online program, Anne found that her biggest challenges were those that most people face: time and money. When she shared her concerns with her employer, she found incredible support. “I was given the opportunity to do my coursework while on the job (as appropriate), and was allowed to take time to do homework during business hours. My work also paid for my education with the exception of about $5,000, which I am paying back in the form of a student loan.”
In the fall of 2010, Anne graduated magna cum laude with her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management, and she was also inducted into the Alpha Sigma Lambda honor society. “Ashford allowed me to reach my goals and dreams with a lot of hard work, and I thoroughly believe I got out what I put in. I discovered that I like to write, and that by having my degree I believe in myself more. Having a Bachelor’s degree adds to my credibility as a professional in my field.”