My Road Enriched by EducationRudene Thomas | Special Needs Assistance Program Specialist, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Education has always been at the forefront of my life. This began by admiring my sixth grade elementary teacher Mrs. Williams and our family doctor Dr. Williams who are African Americans. I remember when folks ask me what I want to be as I grow up and I responded by saying “A doctor”. As I journey through life, I got distracted and had lost my mother and uncle at the age of twenty one. My life changed and took me into another direction. My late aunt was a mentor to me by offering guidance and stressing the importance of having a college degree because her children attended college and were successful in pursuing good teaching jobs.
As I continued to journey through life I was driven to going back to school. I really enjoyed education but had thought it best to work and putting my energies into my job at the Fidelity Bank in Philadelphia. The initiative I had at the time was to get promoted in banking from administrative secretary to an executive secretary. The bank offered college courses for employees and I attended a course with a co-worker. I learned a valuable lesson that there are some things that you need to do by yourself to be successful—my friend lost enthusiasm by dropping the course and I didn’t do well because of her downward spiral but managed to get a C. After working in the banking industry for 9 years, I pursued the opportunity of getting a federal job. I was successful in obtaining a federal job at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
What attracted me to the federal government was that it offered tuition assistance and this was an important caveat. I began working for the federal government in December 2007. I talked to my first manager at the NIH about taking a course and she was delighted and signed off on the approval form. I started school at the Montgomery College; studied hard and received excellent grades and then gave thought to pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business. I later met a representative of DeVry University and he recommended that I could transfer my credits and get the BS in a lesser timeframe. So I attended DeVry University 2004 and did very well. After 3 months of attending DeVry, I decided that I should go farther and that was to get a Masters degree. I talked to the Dean of the Bethesda Campus and inquired about the Masters program. While talking to the Dean, I asked about doing a dual degree and he said that I could get two Masters and a Masters certificate. So I pursued the degrees and graduated in 2009 with a MBA in Project Management, MPA in Government Management and Masters Certificate in Business Administration.
I’m the first one in my family to receive 2 degrees. The degrees did help me into getting a higher salary grade in the federal government that lead me to working in Washington, D.C. at a headquarter agency. I later gave thought to seeking a doctorial degree and began to reshape my career and life. I realized that I needed to be in an educational environment in order to seek the rewards and to continue to learn and be around like minded people. I enjoy learning, sharing and receiving new information.
So now I will be ending my federal career in a few short years by having 20 years of service to pursue opportunities in academia. This journey will be the final and most rewarding.