Ever since high school graduation, Kathy Haworth wanted a college degree. Life, as it happens, got in the way – that is until May 14, 2011, when the University of Idaho team cleaning specialist earned her bachelor of science in office administration.
“It’s been very challenging and a lot of fun,” says Haworth, a first-generation college graduate. “I’m really happy to have graduated. I’ve been so close for so long, it’s nice to finish up.”
Hired by the University 24 years ago, with a good entry-level job with health benefits, Haworth never imagined it would lead to a college degree. In 2003, she made the decision to fulfill her dream after a conversation with a lecturer on campus, who asked her why she didn’t have a degree when she was just as smart as the lecturer.
“It really got me to thinking about returning to school,” says Haworth. “It’s been a lifelong dream, but that was the conversation that set me into motion.”
Once she made the decision to go back to school, Haworth needed to figure out what she wanted to do. For that, she took a career decision-making class where she leaned toward office administration work. From there, she began taking one or two classes a semester.
With her goal to graduate this spring in sight, she opted to reduce her working hours last fall and take a full course load. She says that without the support and encouragement of her co-workers, supervisors and family, it would have been a much harder road to travel.
“I don’t think I could have done this without all the support I received,” says Haworth. “Probably the hardest thing was juggling everything – work, school and family.”
And while it takes a village to raise a child, Haworth says it took the University community to help her graduate. As a student, she was able to use Student Support Services from Tutoring and Academic Assistance Programs. Haworth learned how to study for exams, to get the most out of her textbooks, and to manage her study time. After being away from school for as long as she had been, she says those services were invaluable.
She was so successful in her program that she earned the Student Support Services’ Spirit of TRiO Award and the Certificate of Academic Achievement for having a cumulative GPA above 3.5. In addition, she made the Fall 2010 College of Education Dean’s List with a 4.0 GPA. She also belongs to two honor societies: Alpha Sigma Lambda and Sigma Alpha Pi, which is the National Society of Leadership and Success.
As a student, Haworth was also exposed to a taste of her future career during an internship in the Worklife Office, spending time shadowing and performing the work of an office professional – like setting up for workshops and learning the ins and outs of administrative duties.
“It was fantastic, such a wonderful experience,” says Haworth. “It was great to be able to get that experience as a student.”
As the first person in her family to graduate from college, Haworth was able to share her special day with friends and four generations of her family: her mother, daughters, sisters and grandchildren all attended graduation to mark the special day.
“It was such a long time coming for me, and such an important day,” says Haworth. “I was thrilled to see my family there.”
As far as her future, Haworth is a Vandal through and through; she will be looking to expand her opportunities at the University of Idaho where she can use her recently acquired skills and degree.