Kelli Crawford-Smith, MBA in Leadership Student

Current occupation: Director of Neighborhood Excellence, Communications and Community Outreach – City of Cuyahoga Falls

What made you decide to pursue your degree as an adult?

I decided to pursue my degree as an adult because I felt like it was the right time. I felt ready to reinvest in myself and my career development. As a working mom with additional commitments to my community, I knew that there would be sacrifices that would need to be made so that I could be successful. I felt that those sacrifices were worth making in the short term to help move my career forward in the long term for myself and my family.

Why did you choose to study at Tiffin University?

I appreciate that Tiffin University offers completely online programs with no seated requirements. My job requires me to work many evening and weekends during community events, and the online program provides me with the ability to balance both.

What has been your experience with the program so far?

My experience with Tiffin has been incredibly positive. The teaching staff and my graduate advisor have largely been engaged in not only my learning experience but also my success in the program. Many have been incredibly encouraging which has been appreciated on numerous occasions, especially during some of the more challenging courses.

What keeps you motivated to stay in the program?

Very early on in the program, I had a professor that coached us through the course by reminding us that we were making short-term sacrifices to reach our long-term goals. I have carried that with me throughout the program and have been grateful for the impact those words have made on my persistence and success.

I keep motivated to stay in the program by thinking about setting an example for my 5-year-old son. In the end, I will be the proud owner of a photo of him and me at graduation. He will always understand the importance of education, hard work, and perseverance.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about going back to school?

To a prospective student who is thinking about going back to school, I would say to know that you are worth the investment in yourself. It is not easy to go back. I was terrified when I started and did not think I was smart enough or tech savvy enough to make it through. But, you dig in and do the work, and you feel an indescribable feeling of encouragement and accomplishment as you start to excel through the program. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can accomplish your end goal.

TU’s motto is: Without risk there is no gain. Can you tell us about a time when you took a risk and what you gained from it?

I took a risk by coming to graduate school because I was afraid. I had been out of school for a long time and did not know the newer technology that is available to students. I was afraid that I would not be able to allocate the time necessary to be successful in the program. I was afraid because I have spent the majority of my career in the public sector and knew little about the private sector. I knew I would be working outside of my comfort zone as I have not worked in business and that I had a lot to learn. Numbers are out of my element, and I knew I would have to push through and learn and do a lot of them.

It was not easy, and there were times that I wanted to quit. By pushing through, I have gained a better understanding and appreciation of my determination to achieve. In May of 2019, I will be gaining a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Leadership.

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