A Force to Be Reckoned With

When I met Dale Ward in 2009 I was immediately impressed by her positive attitude and her belief that earning her bachelor's degree was a key to her success.  I was Dale's academic adviser and I had the opportunity to learn about her journey from Barbados to Manhattanville College.

When Dale was a young girl, her grandmother left their home in Barbados and came to the United States.  This was 1979, and her grandmother had someone sponsor her for a visa, and she received her green card 10 years later.

Her grandmother then applied for a green card for Dale’s mom in the early 1990s, which came through in the mid  1990s. Dale’s mother joined her grandmother in the U.S. Finally, Dale’s mother was able to apply as a sponsor for Dale, and in 2003 Dale finally arrived in the United States, twenty-four years after her grandmother had left Barbados.

In Barbados, Dale was a successful 30-year-old businesswoman, working as a loan officer at a bank. Dale owned her own home, had many friends and was in a relationship, but she came to the United States because of the opportunity for a better life.  She realized very quickly that having a college degree was going to be critical to her success.  She had started college in her home country of Barbados but her job was so demanding that she had to quit college to devote herself to her job.   In 2007 Dale was working in the mortgage industry in the United States and when that industry slowed, she realized that she needed to go back to school so that she could get a better job and start a new career.

Her sister, her aunt and uncle, and many other friends and family had either a baccalaureate or master’s degree, and she knew higher education was key for her success.

“If I wanted to be a force to be reckoned with, I needed an education,” Dale recalls.  “I had a ton of experience but I needed the education.”

She transferred 12 credits from the college she attended in Barbados to a local community college, where she received her associate’s degree in May of 2009. That July, Dale entered an accelerated bachelor’s degree program that had seven-week terms, with classes in the evenings and on weekends.  This allowed Dale to work full time and still take more than 30 credits a year.  Dale completed her Undergraduate degree in Behavioral Studies in two years.  In May, she received her Master’s Degree in Organizational Management and Human Resource Development.   

Dale said that a key to her success was having a plan before she started.  “Given how much work is involved, you need to have a plan. A working individual needs to assess how much time they have and to examine all the facets of your life.”  

Dale made many personal and financial sacrifices while she went to school.  She missed family celebrations, trips, and other functions. Through it all, Dale had the support of her family, friends, and the people she worked with. She had a career plan, found a program that allowed her to complete her degree quickly, and worked hard to accomplish her goals.

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