Alumni Answers Her Calling to Help At-risk Youth
Bernadene Fielder didn't let her struggles as a teenage mom keep her from obtaining a college degree. In fact, that's probably what helped her most in her desire to become a human services professional.
Bernadene knows first hand the hardships that low-income families face. She comes from a similar background and struggled a lot while she was growing up. At 16 years old, she became a single mother. “I found my solace in writing. I actually have a self-published memoir [available on Amazon] that is a shadow of my life including how I overcame all of my obstacles. It’s why I felt a calling to help others, and chose a career in human services.”
Focusing on Human Services
Bernadene has worked in human services for 20 years. She is employed at Crosswinds Youth Services, a non-profit organization that helps at-risk youth. Crosswinds provides suicide prevention help, specialized assessments, personal assistance, and operates a hotline for rape and incest victims. In addition to her job, Bernadene also volunteers at a prison ministry, a women’s ministry, and at-risk youth ministries.
Armed with her Bachelor of Science in Human Services with an emphasis in Child and Family Welfare, Bernadene now feels better equipped with the right words to say and the right steps to take in helping others. “My experience at Kaplan University gave me a new confidence that I didn't have before. The portfolio classes made me realize that I really do have the credentials to be a human service professional,” she said. “I really needed that for my spirit. I felt like a second-class citizen sometimes because I never got my degree. This class really opened my eyes to what I had learned. I don't think I realized how much work experience I had gained. By analyzing this part of my career, I gained more self-esteem and confidence!”
With her newfound confidence, Bernadene was determined to excel at Kaplan University. “My professors challenged me to not settle for mediocre. They gave me a lot of feedback and were readily available for questions and discussions,” she said. “One professor told us that no one gets a 100 score in her class—and that challenged and motivated me to do more than my best. I ended up with a 98! In the end, I graduated with a 4.0 GPA.”
Bernadene has been using her knowledge helping the at-risk youth she serves, and is determined and excited to open up her own agency in the future. She’s working on her business plan now, and has been seeking advice from her former Kaplan University professors.
Views and opinions stated herein are the individual’s and not necessarily those of Kaplan University. Individual student schedules and experiences may vary. Kaplan University’s degree and certificate programs are not endorsed by Crosswinds Youth Services.