Argosy University Blog

After a Challenging 18 Months, Argosy University Organizational Leadership Graduate Jess Fink Creates Her Own Luck

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Over the past 18 months, Jess Fink has experienced her fair share of setbacks and successes.

In July of last year, she was laid off from a job she loved after seven years. Since then, she has held three other full-time jobs—including a stint as assistant manager for a retail store—all while attending college full time.

But while Fink’s career path has had its detours, she says that focusing on her education helped her maintain her balance—and her perspective.

“It hasn’t always been easy,” she says. “After I lost my job, I was depressed. Looking for work can be a full-time job, and it’s especially hard when you’re also going to school full time. I ended up having to retake a few classes because there was just too much going on.”

But Fink, a West Virginia native who now lives in Pittsburgh, persisted. While she was completing her B.S. in Business Administration (with a concentration in Marketing) from Argosy University, she was accepted into the school’s Masters Acceleration Program. In August, she completed her M.S. in Organizational Leadership—with a 3.9 GPA.

“Being an online student at Argosy gave me the flexibility I needed at a time when my work schedules were unpredictable and often out of my control,” Fink says. “As frustrating as it was to work at jobs I didn’t love, I did what I had to do to keep things going. School was my saving grace. It kept me organized and motivated, and it also reminded me that I was preparing myself for better things.”

Shortly before graduating, and right around the time Fink and her husband were moving into a home they’d just purchased, she received a call from a recruiter who had seen her LinkedIn profile. She told Fink about a project manager position at Alcoa. After two rounds of interviews, Fink was optimistic and was convinced the job would be a perfect fit.

When she received a call telling her she had not been selected, she was disappointed. But she was also determined to learn as much as she could from the experience, so she decided to send a follow-up email to the hiring manager who had interviewed her.

“I figured I had nothing to lose,” Fink says. “I just thanked her for considering me, and asked what I could do to become a better candidate in the event the position were to become available again.”

Fortunately for Fink, she didn’t have to wait long for an answer. A week later, as she and her husband were driving home to Pittsburgh from her Argosy commencement ceremony in Washington, D.C., Fink received an unexpected call from the recruiter.

“The follow-up email I sent to the Alcoa hiring manager apparently struck a chord,” says Fink. ”When the recruiter told me they had just called to offer me another project manager position, I couldn’t believe it! It was such perfect timing, and a great way to end my graduation trip.”

Fink has been at her new job as a project manager for three weeks, and says she’s never been happier.

“Working for a company I respect, in a position that allows me to use my skills and education, is such a great way to end the year,” she says. “I’ve experienced a lot of change—and a lot of personal growth—over the past 18 months. I’ve learned that you have to stay in the game if you want to win it. You also have to be willing to connect, build relationships, put yourself out there, and risk rejection. If I hadn’t sent that follow-up email, it’s very unlikely I’d have been hired for my new position. Sometimes you can create your luck without even realizing it.” ###

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Overcoming Obstacles: Argosy University’s Stephanie Mrosek Leads by Example

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Stephanie Mrosek knows what it feels like to struggle.

She also knows what it feels like to succeed.

Six years ago, Mrosek, then 22, left a bartending job in Puerto Rico to move to Florida. But things didn’t go quite as planned. Within a year, she found herself in an abusive relationship, unemployed—and pregnant.

“I knew that getting an education was my only hope for improving my life, but fear and procrastination really got in my way,” Mrosek remembers. “I was also in default on previous student loans and had very little money, so I didn’t see a way out. I kept telling myself that the time just wasn’t right. But I also knew that every day I waited to start making my life better was a day wasted. I finally decided I was willing to do whatever it took to make it happen.”

That’s exactly what she did. Mrosek moved to Pennsylvania to be closer to family and enrolled at Argosy University. With transfer credits, she completed her BA in Criminal Justice (with a concentration in management and security management) in just two years. She graduated from the online program in 2015.

“I wanted to become a probation officer so I could encourage kids to stay in school and make a better life for themselves, no matter where they come from,” says Mrosek. “I really believe we each possess the power to change our lives. No one has to become a statistic.”

As it turned out, Mrosek didn’t need to become a probation officer to encourage students to excel. While completing her degree, she became an admissions representative at Argosy.

“When I applied for the job, I didn’t even know the position was at Argosy,” she says. “After I interviewed and they told me I was hired, I remember thinking it was the perfect place for me. I could relate to the students and all the challenges they face, because I’ve been there.”

After three years in admissions, Mrosek became a financial counselor at Argosy, helping students pursue financial aid, identify scholarship opportunities, and establish financial plans that make it possible for them to earn their degrees.

When Mrosek completed her BA, she says she became “obsessed” with the idea of earning a graduate degree.

“As busy as I was with work and raising my daughter, school provided an extra challenge that really energized me,” she says. “It also gave me an added sense of power, control, and accomplishment. I wanted to see how far I could go.”

She decided to pursue an advanced degree, and in July, Mrosek earned her Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at Argosy. She hopes to use her degree in a management position at the university. In the meantime, she’ll continue counseling students—and sharing her story whenever she thinks it might help a student conquer his or her self-doubt.

“It’s easy to feel isolated and alone when we’re struggling,” says Mrosek. “I’ve learned that you can either break down or break out. Someone once told me that your life is like a vase. When it gets broken, you have a choice to either let it stay broken or glue the pieces back together and make it whole again.”

Mrosek says the past six years have taught her that life is all about growth and change.

“There was a time, not that long ago, when my future didn’t look so bright,” Mrosek says. “But in six years, I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. I have a job I love, helping people pursue their own dreams. I’m in a wonderful relationship with a supportive man and have a second child. I’m proof that where you start doesn’t have to be where you finish. You are not your past.” ###

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For Argosy University Graduate Kareema Fletcher Lewis, A Second Chance is All She Needed

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Kareema Fletcher Lewis knows just how powerful the kindness of strangers can be.

Back in 2012, Lewis—then a single mother with four children, including two with special needs—was facing challenges that would have broken the spirit of someone less resilient.

Lewis had completed her associate’s degree when her oldest son was in eighth grade, and she was determined to earn her bachelor’s degree in psychology before he graduated high school. When she enrolled at Argosy University in Atlanta to study psychology two years earlier, she was the first in her family ever to attend college. But with one daughter in remission from leukemia and a newborn with Down’s Syndrome, the obstacles were overwhelming.

“It became more than I could handle,” remembers Lewis, now 35. “I had four kids under the age of 12, including one daughter with serious medical issues and another with special needs. I failed one of my classes because I had no time to study, and I was under incredible financial pressure. Even though I was only eight classes away from graduation, something had to give—and that something was my education.”

While she knew she made the right decision under the circumstances, it was one Lewis often regretted. Three years later, in 2015, she was feeling frustrated and defeated. She was working at a community services center that provided second chances to people recovering from addiction, but she felt like her own life and career had come to a standstill.

“I was passed up for jobs because I didn’t have the educational background they required,” she explains. “I knew I needed to complete my degree in order to create the career and life I wanted for my children, but I just couldn’t see how I could make it work.”

Lewis decided it was time to try creating a second chance for herself. She picked up the phone and made a call that would change her life.

“I decided to call Argosy University Online, explain my situation, and see if anyone could or would help me,” she recalls. “I connected with an admissions representative named Richard Gerhardt. After I explained my situation, he said he’d call me back in an hour—and he did! He went so far above and beyond what he needed to do. He found a scholarship I was eligible for. He showed me how to utilize prior learning assessment in some of my classes. He connected me with John Barley, a finance counselor at Argosy who helped me apply for student loans and created a payment plan that I could manage. The encouragement and kindness Richard and John showed me gave me hope at a time when hope was hard to find.”

Her decision to return to college reaped immediate rewards. Soon after showing her employer proof that she had returned to college, she received a promotion. Eight classes later—on December 3, 2016—Lewis graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, with a concentration in Criminal Justice. It was also a big day for two other reasons. Earlier that day, she spoke by phone with her father, whom she’d never met. Later that night, her boyfriend proposed marriage.

With all of the good things happening in her busy life, Lewis was ready to exhale and slow down. But when Richard Gerhardt encouraged her to consider pursuing her master’s degree, she listened.

“At first, I just laughed,” Lewis recalls. “I had already accomplished more than I imagined was possible. But the more we talked, the more seriously I considered it. He pointed out that I’d already developed a routine, a structure and study habits that worked for me. When he showed me how I could earn my master’s degree in 13 months, I decided to go for it.”

Now just four classes away from her completing her Master of Science in Human Services, Lewis is on track to graduate in December.

“It’s amazing how the kindness of strangers can change a person’s life forever,” says Lewis, who recently started a new job as a Child Protective Officer with the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s Services. “When I called Argosy, I never expected that the person who answered would become such a powerful influence in my life. Even though I’ve never met Richard in person, I feel like he’s a friend. Every step of the way, Richard, John and so many others at Argosy have been there for me. I did the work, but they helped me believe. I’m hoping I can meet them one day to give them a hug and to say thank you in person.”

Lewis is certain that without their support, her life would have been very different.

“It hasn’t always been easy,” she says, “but it’s absolutely been worth it. The process of earning my two degrees has allowed me to be a role model to my children, to show them anything is possible. That means the world to me. I love knowing that my kids are as proud of me as I am of myself.” ###

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