Each semester, an exemplary graduating student is chosen to lead the CLS processional in both the college convocation and university commencement ceremonies. The CLS Banner Carrier honor is an important decades-long tradition that not only signifies great academic achievement but is a formal public recognition of accomplishment. Kimberly Mahoney accepted the honor in spring of 2015.
Was there a specific event or person that made you decide to apply for admission to CLS?
I was motivated by a coworker who was also a student at CLS and raved about the quality of the education and flexible schedule. As an active duty Airman and an aspiring full-time student, I knew I needed an online program that reasonably accommodated my commitment to the Air Force. I found that at CLS.
Is there anyone who was instrumental in your success?
Friends and family are instrumental in every successful life endeavor, but I owe a huge thank you to my coworkers who provided me the help and the space I needed to complete some assignments at work and an immense thank you to the CLS staff!
James Morrison, my fall 2014 Nonprofit Management professor, supported my exploration of an environmentally driven nonprofit organization designed to improve the ecological health of the greater Puget Sound region in Washington. His open-mindedness and challenging assignment introduced me to just how passionate I was about environmental improvement and led me to applying for and accepting an offer of attendance to the University of Illinois’ Master of Arts in Environmental Studies program! Thank you, Professor Morrison!
What surprised you most about your time with CLS?
I was surprised most by the interdisciplinary nature of my program. I expected the program to offer a wide range of management- and leadership-related courses, but instead my program combined courses related to physical sciences, social sciences and humanities in addition to courses that developed my leadership skills. I feel that I have a broader, more inclusive education than other programs may have offered me.
What did you find most interesting during your studies?
I took a course on cultural diversity and learned a lot about how different each culture is, yet how connected the cultures really are to each other. There is an extreme amount of value and humility in becoming familiar with the world’s various cultures, and in doing so, you truly experience the relevance and dependence we all have on each other.
How has what you learned benefitted you so far?
I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Administrative Leadership and was able to use the leadership qualities I learned at OU to accept a job offer as a supervisor when I finished my military commitment. Often, people discuss the increasing unemployment rate prevalent in America, but my education at CLS was fundamental in gaining the employment I have today!
How do you see finishing your degree benefitting you in the near future?
I am most excited for the opportunity my education has provided me to pursue even higher education. I was able to gain admittance to a master’s program in a field that is largely unrelated to my bachelor’s degree, and because of that, I know that other schools nationwide recognize the quality education provided at OU. I foresee a lifetime of professional fulfillment upon completing my graduate program, and that is due largely to the education I received through CLS.
If you could offer some advice to your younger self, what would it be?
It took me a couple of semesters at OU to realize the expansive programs they offered to satisfy the different course requirements of my program, and I wish I would have taken advantage of more of those interesting courses. I think I may have learned a little more about myself sooner if I would have taken courses in environmental studies or marine biology, rather than just taking introductory-level biology and chemistry courses.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is ever-developing. 10 months ago, I would have said it was being able to represent CLS as the Outstanding Senior. A few months later, I would have said it was completing my bachelor’s program at OU after years of hard work, and in May, I would have said it was being able to lead my class of high-achievers and aspirants as the 2015 Convocation Banner Carrier! But today, I know that all of those great achievements have led to what I now see as my greatest achievement, which is admittance to the Master of Arts in Environmental Studies program at the University of Illinois.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
After finishing my master’s program, I would love to work for an environmental organization intent on improving the ecological health of the world we live in. I am most interested in applying my passion for the environment toward energy conservation and resource protection.
Update: The College of Liberal Studies was renamed the College of Professional and Continuing Studies in 2017.