Two members of this year’s graduating class are also College employees—Executive Assistant for Mission Kimberly Cordeiro and Sgt. Rochelle Ryan, a member of the Stonehill College Police Department.
While balancing career and family responsibilities, they found time, energy and discipline for their studies. Cordeiro has spent seven years earning a degree in accounting while Ryan has devoted nine years to earning a criminology degree. Despite the long haul and many sacrifices along the way, they both say their educational journey was rewarding.
“Numbers fascinate me and I went for accounting to satisfy my own interests. Going back to school has kept me young and being in class with the students was lots of fun,” says Cordeiro who holds an associate’s degree in civil engineering from Bristol Community College and has worked at Stonehill since 2008.
“Our tax laws are complex if not confusing, but thanks to Professor Debra Salvucci’s Tax Accounting class, I now have a strong understanding of how the taxation system works, a skill that is helpful when filing my own taxes. Her class, which I really enjoyed, was just one of many that tested me and expanded my skill set,” adds Cordeiro who notes that she had the pleasure of being taught by Professor Virginia Cortijo for her first and last classes at Stonehill.
“The opportunity to grow professionally by earning a degree in criminology was too good to miss. In class, however, I never wore my uniform and not being identified as a sergeant allowed me to be a regular student, which was important to me,” says Ryan, who has worked at the College since 2002.
“Whether I took classes in my major, such as Statistical Analysis or Research Methods with Professor Pamela Kelly, which were rigorous, or something unrelated like the Introduction to Water Color class with Professor Shane Savage-Rumbaugh, I was challenged intellectually but also mentored. Professor Savage-Rumbaugh’s class introduced me to the power of art to invoke feelings, which was unexpected but so rewarding. That willingness to explore and help was amazing and was always there,” explains Ryan, who is keen to further her career in law enforcement and take a master’s degree down the road.
Having understanding families proved critical to both Cordeiro and Ryan as they stayed on track with their studies.
“As I juggled things, my husband and our three boys were behind me all the way and their encouragement freed me up to concentrate on my course work and enjoy it,” says Cordeiro.
“I had a lot of people praying for me and giving me support—not just my immediate family who were by my side helping me with technology or taking care of dinner but also my church family at Full Gospel Tabernacle in Brockton and my Stonehill College Police Department colleagues, especially Chief Peter Carnes and Lt. Cathy Farrington,” says Ryan.
Keys to Success
In addition to having a reliable support system, both Cordeiro and Ryan say that what really helped them as they studied part-time was solid organization and preparation and getting to know their professors.
“With so much going on between work, home and classes, I had to use time effectively, which meant really concentrating on what needed to be done in terms of class preparation, research and homework. It is hard work but it also pays off,” says Cordeiro.
“I’m old school and believe that if you fail to prepare then you better prepare to fail. I’m the oldest of 11 children and our father insisted that we not to let circumstances define us. Instead, he expected us to take things into our own hands,” explains Ryan.
Free Time Again
Without classes and homework after Commencement, the new graduates will be making up for missed opportunities.
For Cordeiro, that means spending more time hiking with her husband David and a trip to the White Mountains is already on their agenda.
Ryan is looking forward to enjoying peace and quiet during the summer and catching up on Bible study nights again at Full Gospel Tabernacle.
“In earning their degrees over such extended time periods and doing so with such clarity, commitment and focus, Kim and Rochelle have set a great example to all students as to what is required to succeed academically and professionally. Their stories are inspirational to all of us who work or study at the College,” says Dean of Arts & Science Peter Ubertaccio.