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The American Women's College
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Kimberly Sykes ‘17

Bachelor of Science in Health Service Administration

“If you don’t like something, change it.”

A WELL professor who taught one of my first courses at Bay Path shared that quote with the class. It has been my motto ever since. It’s exactly that sentiment that inspired me to get a college education years after starting my career and having a family.

In 2013, I had been working at a local hospital for three years. I was given the responsibility of raising money for and building up the surgical department, and under my leadership, the department saw a lot of growth. When a supervisory position opened up, I thought I was a shoo-in. But I got passed over because I didn’t have one of the key qualifications--a bachelor’s degree. I was disappointed, but it pushed me to make a positive change in my life. A friend of mine from Western MA had just finished her degree at Bay Path, and shared her positive experience with me. I said to myself, “I’m not going to get passed over for a promotion again because I don’t have a four-year degree. I’m going to Bay Path.”

Since I work full time and have a son who plays sports, online classes are ideal for me. The course work isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. My third class in, I called my advisor in tears, feeling that I couldn’t do it and wanted to quit. She listened to me, suggested I lighten my course load, and shared helpful encouragement with me that pushed me to keep going. Had it not been for her support, I might have quit early on without giving myself the chance to succeed.

A lot of knowledge is packed into each course, and they’re just six weeks long. For me, that’s meant quickly building skills in the healthcare field. Being able to demonstrate and articulate what I’m learning helped me get a promotion after only nine months on the job at UNC Healthcare with a new title and monetary increase of above 15 percent. And I know when I finish this degree, there will be even more opportunities that I’m qualified for. I’m ready and excited to take on bigger challenges and contribute even more to my organization.

I’ll be the first one in my immediate family to graduate from college and I’m proud that I get to break that chain. As soon as commencement activities for graduating seniors begin on campus, my son and I are coming to Massachusetts to participate and celebrate. And after that, I’m going straight into a graduate program in public health. Until recently, I’d never considered getting a master’s degree, but if working towards my bachelor’s degree can take me as far as it has already, I can only imagine what’s next.

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