Within each of our Bay Path community members is an inspirational story of perseverance and strength, and we are honored to share them. This narrative originally appeared as part of Bay Path's #MyPath on social media.
"I'm from Shrewsbury, central Mass, born and raised. It was always expected that I would go to college. My mom is from South America. She didn't have that opportunity. My dad is American—he's Mass College of Pharmacy, top of his class. When I graduated high school, I was so young that I didn't have it in me to say no.
"So, I went to music school. But I wasn't ready, and I was not successful. Then, I found myself expecting my first child. We got married and committed to raising our kids. Within four years, we had three kids, and we struggled. I took whatever odd jobs I could get. As the kids got older, I opened my own business teaching early childhood music education. But it didn't feel right.
"During the course of my music business, one of my clients was putting together a cohort. I could earn my early childhood bachelor's degree. I jumped into the cohort and found I loved it. I was finally ready for college. Unfortunately, the program didn't last, and again, everything came to a stop. I continued to work. And it just constantly bothered me that I didn't finish. I needed that to validate me.
"I moved into working for the church as a children's pastor. I loved that. But it still wasn't enough. So here I am, a very older grownup (I will have my 60th birthday after graduation), looking for something. My friend asked if I had looked at Bay Path? I looked it up.
"It was a Saturday afternoon. A Bay Path advisor, Cindy Mapel, called me back within an hour. She asked me a whole lot of questions and told me I should do organizational leadership. It took all the pieces of everything I had done working for the municipalities and the big cities. Took the organization and running of these children's ministry programs. It took all the things that I loved and put them in a space that made sense to me. She said, "We can do this." I thought if somebody I'd never met before invested that much time on a day off to talk with me, then there's got to be something special about the school. She's been my counselor all the way through, and she has been fantastic.
"I joined Bay Path in 2018. The online courses have been fabulous! A lot of work, but I made it through. I've had so many great professors that were so invested in us, accessible, and understanding. Things that seemed hard, they built you up so that you recognize that you could do them.
"During the pandemic, I lost my job of 17 years working in the church. Even though I was not finished with my degree at Bay Path, it still put me head and shoulders above other candidates. I landed my dream job at Grace Chapel five weeks later during a pandemic.
"The Women as Empowered Learners and Leaders (WELL) program at Bay Path stands out as far as learning things about myself and building my self-confidence. I was in WELL when I was interviewing for my new job. We were studying how to take an interview, fix your resume, write cover letters, and deliver your elevator speech. It was amazing to take those skills and immediately put them to good use.
"Right now, I lead a children's ministry that has about 200 kids. Finishing this degree has made me feel capable of doing what I'm called to do. It's taught me the ins and outs of an organization, how it works, how to lead well, and how to lead better. That's an extremely important skill set to have in a large organization.
"I recently received the Carpe Diem Award. My whole life, I've thought 'not good enough.' To receive that award was incredible. President Doran is amazing. She held my hand through most of that because I was getting teary. I disappointed my parents deeply, my first try at college. So, they are prouder than you could imagine. I dedicate this award and this degree to my family, my parents, my husband, my grandkids, my kids, all of them who have stepped up, and stepped in and helped me.
"My advice for older women considering going back to school is 'do it.' We need to find our voices. We need to use our voices. The college experience gives us the confidence to do that. We need to forget the mistakes we've made in the past and move forward." - Patricia Lake '22 #MyPath