When we spoke to Ashford alumnae Sylwia Stetz, she worked as a pre-arrivals coordinator at the Hilton Hotel Bayfront in San Diego. Her husband Andre, who is in the US Navy, was deployed to Afghanistan. They are both originally from Poland and have two children, Camila and Hugo. She shared her story with us just a few months prior to her commencement day.
After relocating to the United States in 2001 with Andre and baby Hugo, Sylwia learned that the degree she’d earned in her homeland wasn’t applicable here. Not one to become easily discouraged, she earned an Associate’s degree in Sport Management at a community college in New York. After moving to San Diego, where Andre was transferred, she enrolled at Ashford to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management online.
Despite a hectic work schedule along with parental and household responsibilities that increased during the many times Andre was deployed – not to mention her active role in the community as Navy ombudsman – Sylwia managed to meet all of her deadlines and didn’t miss one assignment. She also relished the opportunity to improve her written English skills. “I found a passion in writing posts on the discussion boards.”
In January 2012, at age 37, Sylwia graduated magna cum laude. She traveled to Clinton, IA for the commencement ceremony a few months later, telling us, “Only 18 months ago, I started, and today I celebrate my commencement. To anyone who has doubts about enrolling, I would like to show them the discussion boards and explain the way the system works. Every five weeks, a student is three credits closer to his or her goal. That is amazing!”
So how did it feel to be handed that diploma? “I feel fulfilled, successful, accomplished, and more confident. Nobody can tell me that I am only another immigrant without basic knowledge. I feel like I came far, and I know that people listen to what I have to say.” And, now that she has been nationally honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her volunteer work and featured in the Military Press, there is even less doubt that this accomplished Ashford graduate’s words will ever fall on empty ears.
For even more on Sylwia, view the above video filmed in her home just a few months prior to her graduation. Also, check out the Spring 2012 edition of Ashford Connections, on which she made the cover for being part of the “Ashford Around the World” feature story.