Cathy Zagar

Cathy Zagar

Cathy Zagar
Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management, 2011
Purchasing and Subcontracting Administrator

“I feel like I have just achieved climbing Mount Everest.”


A single mom of a 3-year-old, Cathy Zagar, 43, works as a full-time Purchasing and Subcontracting Administrator at a company that provides offshore survey services. A self-described “soccer and competitive dance mom,” she also counts bunco, hiking, and scrapbooking as regular activities. And now, amongst her achievements, she can finally include having earned her Bachelor’s degree.

Cathy had started college right out of high school, but dropped out after being hired as a clothing buyer. She worked in the apparel field for the next 20 years before landing her current job, but the desire to finish her degree never left her. After mentioning this fact to her sister’s friend, who happened to be a Student Advisor at Ashford, Cathy began to look into enrolling. “I found that the online program fit my schedule. Ashford offers a great selection of classes.”

Admittedly, fitting school into her already full schedule was a challenge at first. “I learned the art of time management in a big way!” She also confesses that she had always been more focused on the social rather than the academic aspect of school, and that effective goal-setting was never a strength of hers. “But by going to Ashford, I have forced myself to set a goal, find a way to get there, and execute.”

And she did so with flying colors. Cathy graduated with honors in October 2011 and was inducted into the Alpha Sigma Lambda honor society. “I never thought that I could achieve honors!” she exclaims proudly. Cathy’s mother, sister, and daughter accompanied her to Clinton, IA for the commencement ceremony. “It felt great. I’ll never forget them calling my name and handing me my diploma. You can even tell by the picture, as I was grinning from ear to ear. Then I heard my family cheering from the crowd, and I knew that they were proud of me and of what I have accomplished.”

Since then, Cathy has enjoyed applying her degree to many aspects of her personal and professional life. “I have been more productive in my workplace and have been able to contribute what I learned into my daily life.”

Now, Cathy sometimes finds herself at the receiving end of the sentiment she had expressed to her sister’s friend that day. “I hear the same excuses I used myself for years: too old, not enough time, not disciplined enough to do homework, not enough money. But if a person wants it badly enough, they will overcome these obstacles and make it to the end – I am a testament of this determination!”

Cathy cites Ashford’s online class format for making it possible. “Once in the groove, it becomes second nature. The classes are all formatted the same, so there are no surprises. There’s no excuse as to why someone can’t go back to school and succeed. There are people that will support you and help you along the way to achieve those goals.”

Cathy hopes her story will inspire someone, if only one person, to go back to school and see it to the end. “When I started this journey, I never thought that the end would feel this way. I feel like I have just achieved climbing Mount Everest. It’s a feeling that I’ve never had before. If I can do it, anyone can do it. I want everyone to feel this feeling. I’m looking forward to the next step, which very well might be pursuing my Master’s at Ashford!”