Sherice Rivas ’18 G’20
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, The American Women's College; Master of Science in Leadership & Negotiation
Since the age of 15, I have worked and gone to school. It has been difficult, but for the first time, the challenges felt manageable, thanks to Bay Path University.
When I applied to The American Women’s College (TAWC) at Bay Path University in 2014, I was at a place mentally where I was afraid that even at my young age, I had reached my glass ceiling. I wanted more for myself in my career, but I wasn't confident in my abilities to achieve it. As a soon-to-be mother at that time, I knew it wasn't too late to further my education and knowledge, and it would be possible thanks to the flexibility of studying online at Bay Path.
TAWC is an educational experience that caters to working women and strives for excellence in doing so. The courses are the real deal--pushing you out of your comfort zone while connecting you to a network of women and professors you can learn valuable skills from, not just in your field of study, but that you can use in everyday life. The Women as Empowered Learners and Leaders (WELL) courses and the faculty here empower students, even if you’re out of state like I am. I completed my first semester with the confidence to push my career forward and see a vision for myself that I hadn't seen before, and I didn’t stop there. In May 2018, I earned my undergraduate degree in psychology. TAWC was a great pathway for me, as an adult learner, to obtain my degree in a supportive online environment. I am now pursuing a graduate degree in Leadership and Negotiation at Bay Path for the same reason.
I’ve already applied the knowledge I learned in this program to negotiating for myself for the first time ever at work, and even to negotiate for a new job entirely for the first time in 11 years. I finally felt empowered enough to branch out. In my position as a Risk Management Specialist, I have to regularly negotiate initiatives with department leaders based on my findings. I also hope to expand my role as I grow in the field to a program director, and the leadership skills I’m learning will be invaluable to helping me to manage and motivate people around me. I’m learning that when you walk into a negotiation with an open mind and heart, you are more likely to walk away with more than you intended, and you get to learn something by listening to the other person, or people, at the table. Through classroom roleplay, I’ve been practicing these skills and actively learn from them by writing reflections on the experience.
While studying at TAWC, I had the opportunity to enroll in a mentorship program called Pass the Torch. I was paired with mentor Linda Hicks, an executive at ECC Horizon and former acting president of her local Girls, Inc. chapter. Going into the program, I struggled greatly at work when it came to asserting myself and seeing value in my ideas without the validation of others. I was afraid to truly speak my mind and would shut down at times when I couldn't gain buy-in. Linda told me three things that will stay with me forever and guide many of my decisions: 1) If you want to break into senior leadership, you cannot be afraid to hear the “b-word" (bossy)--meaning that as women, asserting ourselves can sometimes deem us controlling and bossy--don’t be discouraged by this; 2) Depending on the path you take, remember that growing out can be as important as growing up--this was in regards to my desire to climb the corporate ladder and realizing I needed to leave my job of 11 years; 3) Identify what really makes you happy--Linda encouraged me to rekindle joy in myself and take time to really be happy in life.
Pass the Torch’s modules introduced concepts like negotiation, strategic networking, and conflict-resolution styles. These are areas that have really made a difference and best of all were immediately applicable. This has been the best part of my Bay Path experience so far. With that, I am focusing on expanding my own knowledge, and have signed up to become a mentor for an organization called Many Mentors, Inc. Once I complete Pass the Torch, I plan to use my experience as an alumnus to help other women, too.