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Learning Center Experience
Sarah Barker graduated from Kaplan University with a Bachelor
of Science in Psychology, with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis, in
2016. Her journey towards completing her degree—and changing her life—was
filled with many challenges.
“I was in nursing
school for about a term. And I met my husband. It was kind of a whirlwind. He
was in the Air Force. And in under three months, we were married. We moved to
North Carolina because he had orders.”
Sarah wanted to
continue her college education but, like many active-duty military family
members, it was hard.
“I tried getting
in one of the local community colleges to [earn] my nursing degree, and they wouldn't
take my credits. And after talking it over, I wanted an education that I could
take with us if we got transfer orders. I wanted to be able to take my
education with me and not drop it in the middle of something and have to start
A year after
enrolling in Kaplan University, Sarah received terrifying news: her mother had
been in a near fatal semi-truck accident and had been life-flighted to a hospital
in Oklahoma City, over 1,200 miles away.
“I was starting
another term at Kaplan [University] and I just packed up my laptop and took it
with us. We were there for about a week. I was glad that I could take my laptop
and just be able to continue my education. And of course I'm six, seven months
pregnant, and that was a really long drive, but I was able to work on homework
on the road.”
When she got back
home, Sarah was faced with another challenge. Her husband, a Crew Chief on the
F-15Es, was receiving an honorable discharge from the Air Force 2-1/2 years
early due to budget cuts. The young family was soon faced with moving from
North Carolina to Illinois so they could live with family.
“We had maybe two months’
notice. I was able to take my education with me, which was good, and we moved in
with my husband's family. I'm very grateful they helped us out.”
Five weeks after
the birth of Sarah’s second son, she found a position as a direct support personal
(DSP), working with the developmentally disabled. She loved her job but was
working the third shift and the hours were difficult, especially with young
children at home. Further, there were
people who told Sarah she should give up on school and just focus on work and her
Yet Sarah was
determined not to give up the pursuit of her degree.
“I just kept
pushing and pushing. I worked third shift, getting my education. I had two
young boys. I don't know very many people going to school that can work full
time, continue to go to school, and have two young children at home. Sometimes
you have to give those things up. And thankfully, Kaplan [University] was
online, and I [could study] in my free time, and not have to drive away, or
take time from work. I could work the classes into my schedule.”
Two days after
graduating from Kaplan University, Sarah started a new job at a local nursing
home as a social service director, a position that increased her salary and doesn’t
require working the third shift.
“I'll be working
hand-in-hand as a case manager with people with developmental disabilities. I
will also be starting the process to become a qualified intellectual disabilities
professional, a QIDP. They had three positions open and I'm very grateful to
have that job. [W]hen I worked third shift, I worked with developmentally
disabled, and it was something I really, really wanted to do. I kept telling my
husband, I said, ‘That's the job I want.’ ”
Kaplan University cannot guarantee
employment, salary increase, or career advancement.
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