From Hawaii, With Love

It is always admirable to finish what you started, even if life intervenes for a long time. But it is even more admirable when, once you resume what you started, you realize there’s so much more to accomplish above and beyond what you had originally begun. Such is the story of Erika Cedillos, MBA student and Texas native, who lives on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Cedillos had begun her undergraduate degree years ago, but then started a family. It would be many years before she could contemplate returning to academia, but once she did, she found that a Bachelor’s degree wasn’t enough. That’s when she set her sights on the MBA. She plans to graduate next May, and this year was awarded the Stanley Schaeffer Excellence in Business Scholarship

As a single Mom putting her three children through college as well, the $3600 scholarship was very helpful. Cedillos works in the business office of a small hospital, where she has been for four years. She had been laid off at a previous job, and decided at that time to resume her education. Having children to raise at home made it impossible for her to attend a school face-to-face, so she completed her undergraduate degree online at a school in Oahu.

Setting an example for her kids was also a high priority. “I needed to do it, to show them that hard work pays off,” she said. “Being a first-generation born of Mexican immigrants, I didn’t have that role model. Somehow I pulled it off.”

It was about that time her current job opened up, so she wound up juggling career, studies, and family. But it was the prospect of earning her degree that motivated her most. “I wanted to go back to school to do something that I could be proud of.”

Once she earned that honor, she faced a new reality. “Today, a bachelor’s degree is like a high school diploma. It’s not until you have a master’s degree that will help you stand out.”

Cedillos was accepted at the University of Hawaii for their MBA program, but found the cost to be prohibitive, especially while supporting her children with their academic endeavors. She then started searching online, and found WTAMU to offer affordability along with quality.

“I’m glad I discovered WT, because I didn’t have to give up my job, and could keep helping my kids,” she added. “I am very thankful for the opportunity WT has given me.”

Upon graduation, Cedillos is open to changing careers, and possibly even returning to Texas. Meanwhile, she is grateful for the support WT has given her, as well as the convenience of studying online. Life may have intervened years ago, but now she is taking life by the horns.