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Holly Waddell - The Journey Together

Holly Waddell came to Columbus State after a series of financial setbacks, but graduated this spring with an associate degree in Marketing and a 4.0. She was inducted to the first class of the Society of the Compass. Here, she tells her Columbus State story in her own words.

When I think of a journey my mind instinctively takes me back to incredible childhood stories like The Wizard of Oz, Treasure Island, or Alice in Wonderland—all stories that demonstrate bravery, goodness, and strength. I would like to think that my journey at Columbus State has afforded many of these qualities to me. It has led me to where I am now, a better place with a more promising future ahead.

My journey originates with a life-changing event in February of 2008, when I suddenly found myself jobless after 10 loyal years of service at same company. My husband and I were in the process of building a home and our daughter was only 1 year old. I was caught completely off-guard by the layoff. Unaware of deteriorating market conditions and the burst of the housing bubble that would leave me jobless in my area of expertise for many years, I was devastated. I learned that age-old lesson to not “put all your eggs into one basket.”

Thankfully, it wasn’t too late to cancel our house contract, although it broke my heart to do so. With some careful budgeting I was able to work part-time and stay at home with our daughter.

In October of 2010, life was again turned upside down. My husband suddenly found himself jobless due to the ongoing recession. I was pregnant with our second child and this time no amount of strategic budgeting could bail us out. We were in a true family crisis!

Together, we searched frantically for work—discovering that even with our high levels of experience in the workforce we lacked the college degrees that made many others more appealing to potential employers. It was then that we made a HUGE decision. My husband and I both decided to enroll in college full-time—at THE SAME TIME!

Together, we’ve worked diligently to obtain degrees. I’ve maintained a 4.0 GPA in the Marketing associate degree program—always striving for excellence in all I do. I’m very privileged to be a part of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, where I feel I’ve demonstrated leadership by my example. In addition, I’m currently working my internship as a volunteer at the American Red Cross where I’m helping to engage new and existing donors.

I come from humble beginnings, being the first in my family to attend college. I feel that I have given greatly of myself to this journey. I want to be an example to my children and a hero for myself. My journey with Columbus State has been tough at times, but ultimately I know it will lead me to success.