Graduate Success Stories: Samantha Smith

2016, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Human Resources Concentration

Samantha Smith found herself at a disadvantage.

“I've been an office manager, but it kind of held me back because I did not have my degree. I had the experience, but without a degree it kind of limited the positions or the opportunities that I had,” she admitted.

She knew that to maximize her opportunities she needed to earn a college degree. 

“I knew I needed to go to school once I got to that point in my career where it was kind of like, ‘I'm at a dead-end job.’ My money was limited and my opportunities were limited. I just felt like, ‘I deserve more. I'm entitled to more.’ I knew once I got my degree and pushed myself, I would have high expectations for myself.”

Although having more opportunities in the work field was a big motivation for Samantha to earn a degree, her kids were an even bigger one. Samantha is a mom of four kids, including a daughter who is on the autism spectrum and one set of twins.

“My main point to earn a degree was, how can I tell my children, ‘You need a college degree,’ if I don't have one? And when I obtained that, my kids were right there.” 

While studying at Kaplan University, Samantha was able to attend school, work a full-time job, and take care of her family. She admits that, sometimes, family time included doing homework together. 

“I knew from day one, coming into Kaplan University, I was not going to get a certificate, it was actually for earning a degree.”

Samantha credits her professors for helping her succeed. “I had some amazing professors. A lot of my professors actually went the extra mile, and I could say that they made my experience easier.”

She further explained, “If there was something I did not understand, they would let us call them. And I found that to be very helpful because there are some times life gets in the way, and sometimes you need a little bit more help when you don't understand something.”

Additionally, Samantha had an internship with Kap Consulting, a student-run consulting company through the University that provides virtual internships while servicing nonprofits and businesses with project work and consulting services. It helped her to hone both her soft skills and business acumen. “Learning what a vice president does within an organization and learning how to be a team player and a leader, not just a boss, gave me the experience I needed to excel in my personal life, within my work ethics, and just be an all-around leader,” she describes.

Samantha graduated with an associate’s degree in business administration in 2016 from Kaplan University. Just 3 weeks after graduating, Samantha started a job as an inventory specialist. She obtained the interview with the help of the University’s Career Services. 

“As soon as I got my degree, it opened a lot of doors. With business administration, as a broad spectrum, the sky's the limit once you have your degree. I just started, and the discussion is already up on the board to move to the corporate office for human resources.”

The company Samantha works for recognizes Kaplan University as an accredited institution and provides employees with tuition reimbursement. 

With this benefit in place, Samantha plans to continue with her education at Kaplan University. She started in July 2016 working toward a bachelor’s degree in business management with a concentration in human resources.

“Now that I have my associate's degree, it’s kind of an addiction. I loved Kaplan University. I loved attending school. I loved my peers. The teachers were great. It was just a great, all-around experience."