Samerica McNealy

Samerica McNealy

Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management, 2009
Master of Business Administration (MBA), 2011

"My professionalism has grown, and now I feel much more equipped, having learned so much about organizations and how they run."

On January 26, 2009, Samerica McNealy accomplished her life's goal of earning a Bachelor's degree. McNealy, 28, born and raised in Milledgeville, GA, is a working mother of four children. After high school, as much as she yearned to pursue higher education, she says being a young mother meant "going off to college was not an option for me." So instead she went to work to support her family. But she held on to her dream and waited patiently. It took a full year after the birth of her fourth child before she was ready. Then, as soon as her first three children were safely enrolled in school, she decided it was time to put herself back in school, too. 

"Times were getting hard, financially," she remembers. "I had to make life better for my family. Completing college was my best option, so I went for it." 

First, she signed up online for information about online degree programs. She received phone calls from several colleges, but it was Marja Warren of Ashford University who got her attention. "Marja called me within twenty four hours," McNealy says. "She called with so much enthusiasm, she made me feel extremely welcome. Her eagerness made me want to know more about Ashford." Marja walked her through the entire process, and within a matter of days, she began her first course and was on her way toward her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management. 

"My biggest surprise was that I adjusted so quickly!" She remembers her initial struggle with adapting to Ashford's online learning environment. "In the beginning, I did not like or understand it, but I made it my mission not to quit and continue trying until I mastered it." With the support of her instructors and fellow students, McNealy got the hang of her online courses quickly and was soon up to speed.

"Between raising children and working full-time, I did not have much time to complete homework," says McNealy. "While my girls were completing their homework, I used to study and do my discussion posts at our desk with them, so that they could see me studying, too." This allowed her to set a good example, and her children enjoyed doing their homework with Mom right there. Even still, McNealy says, "sometimes I had to do my research papers late at night when they were asleep." Through it all, she discovered more patience and willpower than she knew she had. "Many times I decided to quit school, because I was exhausted, but I pressed on."

Today, McNealy enjoys her responsibilities as a supervisor for a children's center that places juveniles in foster homes until they are ready to return to their families. Now that she is a proud graduate with her well-deserved Bachelor's degree, McNealy is taking some much-needed personal time off while considering her long-term career options. "I plan to continue my education and get a Master's degree with Ashford University. I am not sure exactly which degree program I'll pursue, but I will definitely begin within the next six months." As for her ultimate career goals, McNealy says, "I really want to pursue opening my very own group home for juveniles." She can see how her new degree in Organizational Management has given her an understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur and own her own business. And with her degree in hand, she has the confidence to do it. 

Meanwhile, she is telling everyone about her success with Ashford. "I often speak to young women in my community," she reports, "about continuing their education, because I know how difficult it is to work, especially when they are young parents." Already her sister has decided to continue her education, and so have her sister-in-law and two cousins. 

Since earning her degree, McNealy's life has changed. "I now have a strong sense of responsibility for my decisions and life goals. My professionalism has grown, and now I feel much more equipped, having learned so much about organizations and how they run. When I am at my job and in a room full of people who all have degrees, I know that I can say, 'I do, too.'" 

Update:

Samerica moved forward with her goals and enrolled in Ashford’s online MBA program, which she completed in May 2011. She was able to travel to Clinton, Iowa, and walk across the stage to receive her diploma. Since enrolling in the MBA, Samerica has started a new job, and is hoping for a promotion now that she’s graduated. Congratulations, Samerica!