What do you consider your greatest academic achievement - earning a degree, passing a challenging class, getting high marks on a test or project, reading War and Peace?
|Iowa State 2014|
I didn't have to think too long for this question. While I am proud of my undergraduate degree from Iowa State University of Science and Technology, I wasn't given a choice regarding my post-high school education. My dad told me I was going to go to college, and further that I would attend Iowa State where my older brother was enrolled. I wasn't interested in science or technology, nor did I have the skill set for either. I wanted to go to the University of Iowa, which had (and still has) an excellent writing program. But dad was adamant and you just didn't argue with him, so off to Iowa State I went.
It became abundantly clear following graduation, marriage and a move to St. Louis that an undergraduate degree in Family Services was not going to open employment doors. While my degree was highly recognized and respected in Iowa, St. Louis employers had no idea what it was since my diploma did not say "Social Work" on it. I've always felt that Iowa State was ahead of its time with the program because when an individual has a problem, it's not just their problem - it impacts the whole family. So we treated the whole family. It makes so much sense.
At any rate, with an unknown degree and the distressed job market that existed in 1978, I found myself employed as a teller in a bank. While it was not the worst job in the world, it was a far cry from what I was trained to do. It was clear that an undergraduate degree alone was not going to allow me to work in the field of helping families. And so, at the ripe old age of 23, I enrolled in graduate school full time at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. But this time I picked the curriculum and I picked the college.
The program could be completed in 12 months, including a three month internship. What I didn't realize until I went to enroll in my courses was that the classes were at night to accommodate folks who were working full time. (This was way before the time where you could check everything out online.) That schedule would put a crimp into the time I would be able to spend with my fairly new husband as he was working full time during the days. But we decided that for a year, we could make it work. It may have been for the best as I drove to campus early every day to avoid the traffic, which gave me lots of time in the library before my classes began.
My electives provided me with an opportunity to take daytime classes, and I took business classes for all of those. I believe my business minor contributed to the fact that I was hired by Ralston Purina for my internship in 1980. Those classes also paid off down the road when we started our own businesses.
My Master of Education Degree in Counseling was awarded following completion of the internship in August of 1980. I was the first person in my family to receive an advanced degree, and I graduated with a 3.9 GPA. This degree, unlike my bachelor's, opened the door to jobs that required a masters in order to even be considered. To date, that is my greatest academic achievement.