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, 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."
After requesting information about online degree programs she received phone calls from several colleges, but it was the representative from Ashford University who got her attention. "I felt extremely welcome and wanted to know more about Ashford." Soon, 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 and was soon up to speed.
"Between raising children and working full-time, it was hard to find the 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." She 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."
After earning her Bachelor's 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.'"
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.
After we last spoke with her, Samerica moved forward with her goals and enrolled in Ashford’s online MBA program. In May 2011, at age 30, she travelled to Clinton, Iowa, and walked across the stage to receive her diploma.