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Immigrant raises family, returns to school after 40 years to earn degree at Pacific

May 13, 2019

Lucy Kaye

Born in Liberia as the youngest of five girls, Lucy Kaye was not supposed to go to school. In her rural village, most parents didn’t see the importance of educating girls and instead encouraged them to get married while they were young.

Kaye’s grandparents had a different plan for her when they stepped in to raise her. After moving to the nation’s capital, Monrovia, they enrolled her in an elementary school. That first experience with education inspired her and gave Kaye a feeling of accomplishment that she continues to crave today.

After graduating from high school in Liberia, she immigrated to the United States and started a family. She had six kids and instilled the importance of education in them just like her grandparents did for her. After her children completed their education, she decided it was time for her to pursue higher education.

“When I returned to school, I did not know what to expect, but I am working one day at a time to overcome challenges that come my way,” Kaye said.

To begin her transition back to school after 40 years, Kaye decided to enroll at San Joaquin Delta College. After earning her associate degree there, she transferred to University of the Pacific and enrolled in the organizational behavior degree completion program, now known as the organizational leadership program. The program worked extremely well for her lifestyle, because it’s designed for working adults and offers evening and online class options. Wanting to be as successful as possible, she remained focused and committed to studying hard.

In addition to pushing herself, Kaye leveraged the value of being in classes with students who came from a variety of professional backgrounds.

“During our work together, we challenged and learned from each other in group presentations, research, debates and intellectual discourse that enabled us to grow along the way,” she said.

And along the way, she knew that she could always count on the personalized support from Pacific’s faculty and staff. “At my first orientation, all of the professors said, ‘Our office doors are opened. Come in if you need to talk.’ All my time at Pacific, that promise was kept.”

With that unwavering support and her hard work and dedication, Kaye will be graduating with her bachelor’s degree this spring.

“Pacific gave me the tools I needed, satisfied my quest for education and enabled me to cross one thing off my bucket list,” she said. “Frankly, I only spent two years at Pacific and those have been the best years of my educational life.”

Kaye plans to continue her journey with an advanced degree. Although she hasn’t decided on a particular program, she’s excited to become a graduate student and to encourage others that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

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