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AVON PARK, Fla. – April 6, 2017 – Kimberley Wasdin, a single working mom with two children in school, didn’t let a hectic schedule get in the way of her education. Wasdin graduated from South Florida State College in 2015 with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management (BAS-SM) degree nearly 15 years after she finished high school.
Now, almost two years after graduating from SFSC, Wasdin has earned her master’s degree in business and scored a promotion at work.
With wages stagnant for many working Americans, returning to college for a degree or certificate is one surefire avenue to career advancement.
“I decided to go to SFSC to finish college not only to smooth the way toward career advancement,” Wasdin said. “But I also wanted to show my two girls that education is so important their mother was willing to pull out all the stops to get her degree.”
For Wasdin, pulling out all the stops meant finding time for classes at SFSC while working two jobs and caring for her children.
“I’m not going to say it was easy,” Wasdin recalled. “Thankfully, I have a supportive family in the area who were around to pitch in.”
Wasdin, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., graduated from Frostproof High School in 2002. She started college part time at Polk State College but, unsure of her career path, she stopped taking classes.
Wasdin said she worked in retail for several years and was fortunate to land a job at Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center in Sebring. She started out as a unit clerk and scored a promotion as an assistant working the PACS, or picture archiving and communication system.
Realizing that not having a degree limited her opportunities to climb the career ladder, in 2010 Wasdin decided to enroll in SFSC to earn her associate degree.
“With an eye on managing my time and my long-term goal, I wrapped up my associate degree within two years,” Wasdin said. “I accomplished that while working and looking after my kids.”
Just as Wasdin was earning her associate degree, SFSC launched its first baccalaureate program. The BAS-SM program gave associate-degree holders an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in business without traveling to Lakeland, Tampa, or Orlando. SFSC structured the program to accommodate working adults by offering night, weekend, and online courses.
“I told myself ‘I’m not going to stop now’ and opted to apply for the BAS-SM program as soon as I finished my associate degree,” Wasdin said.
With the SFSC BAS-SM program, Wasdin said she found the career path she had searched for when she tried her hand at college years ago in Polk County.
She immersed herself in her studies at SFSC. She joined Phi Beta Lambda (PBL), the premier postsecondary student business organization in the United States, competing in its statewide competitions on behalf of SFSC.
Wasdin excelled in her classes, earning the distinction of membership in the International Society of Baccalaureate Scholars, a scholarly society for top-ranked students who pursue baccalaureate degrees at community and state colleges.
“Kim was an exceptional student who not only wanted to achieve the best grade but truly wanted to understand the material so that she could grow professionally and personally,” said Adam Martin, professor of business administration, who taught Wasdin and also advises SFSC’s PBL chapter.
Wasdin’s desire to grow professionally didn’t stop with her BAS-SM degree from SFSC. Immediately after graduation, she started the online master’s degrees in business administration at Lynn University. What’s more, she coaxed her mother to start classes with her.
“My mom is a career nurse who has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and we agreed to work on our graduate degrees together,” Wasdin said. “We completed the program in just one year and both walked across the stage during the same ceremony to claim our degrees.”
Wasdin heaped praise on SFSC’s faculty. “The faculty at SFSC, Adam Martin, Dr. Tina Cardenas, and William Nielander, did a fantastic job preparing us not only for careers in business but taught us how to handle rigorous expectations, which prepared me well for my graduate studies.”
Last year saw Wasdin earn not only her master’s degree but a promotion at Florida Hospital, where she remained employed throughout her studies at SFSC. Wasdin now serves as the practice manager for the hospital’s interventional cardiac care physicians’ practice.
Sitting in her office with her SFSC degree hanging above her desk, Wasdin said working adults shouldn’t tell themselves they don’t have the time to earn a degree. “SFSC offers evening classes and an increasing number of online classes that let one study at a time of the day when one has time.”
Wasdin noted now that she has finished her degree programs, the central role education plays in a person’s future hit home for her.
“I’ve already told my two girls there’s one new rule in the house,” Wasdin said. “They’re not dating any boys until they have their college degrees.”