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Online Program Leads Busy Mom from OU Fan to OU Graduate

Online Program Leads Busy Mom from OU Fan to OU Graduate

Kimberly Warner was on schedule to fulfill her dreams of becoming a special education teacher when she completed an associate degree in psychology right after high school. Although her ACT scores weren’t great, her junior college experience gave her the grade point average she needed to be admitted into a university.

Warner chose another Oklahoma university that was close to home and affordable at the time. There, she was able to begin a bachelor’s degree program and start moving closer to her goals. Although she was performing well academically, she left school after a bad experience with a professor robbed her of her confidence.

“I had a professor that deducted an entire letter grade if more than two classes were missed. I missed three being sick,” she said. “I felt like all the hard work I had done was flushed away by a professor that didn’t care about the work I was doing, but more about whether my butt was in a chair.”

Warner went on with life, getting married and having two daughters. It would be decades before Warner would give school another chance.

“I graduated high school 33 years ago and received my associate degree 30 years ago. To come back and finish what I started has shown me that I can do anything that I put my mind to."

Taking a second chance

“I had a boss who saw potential in me, so she challenged me to go back to school. At my age, then in my mid-forties, I had no desire to go sit in class with a bunch of kids that just finished high school,” Warner said. “I didn’t like school when I was there the first time, and my grades weren’t the best, but she encouraged me to just take one class and see how I did. If I didn’t do well or didn’t like it, she would stop bugging me about it.”

Warner knew if she was going to go back to school, there was only one place she would go – the University of Oklahoma. She began doing research and found OU’s online Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership program. Not only did she pass that first class with a perfect score, but she also found the confidence she needed to keep going, earning her degree in December 2022 with a 3.14 overall GPA.

In addition to completing her degree, she was selected as the Banner Carrier for the OU College of Professional and Continuing Studies. Banner Carrier is an honor given to an exemplary graduating student each semester. An important decades-long tradition, the honor signifies academic achievement and serves as a formal public recognition of accomplishment.

“I’m a very busy mom of two girls who played school sports but also competitive sports. My girls are 10 years apart in age, so I have been running kids to practices and games for two decades,” Warner said. “This program gave me the flexibility to take classes and do the work on my schedule, and it fell in line with my associate degree in psychology. It felt like a natural continuation.”

Perseverance, dedication, and determination

In addition to offering her the flexibility she needed, the OU’s online leadership program taught her the value of perseverance, dedication, and determination.

“Anything is possible,” she said. “I was not a great student my first 2 ½ years in college. But making that A in my first class in the PACS program, I realized that I might be able to do this,” she said. “I graduated high school 33 years ago and received my associate degree 30 years ago. To come back and finish what I started has shown me that I can do anything that I put my mind to. I have gone through periods of not being confident in my essays to having professors tell me that what I had written was very good and relevant to the coursework. I’m proud of myself, and if there was one thing I would change, it would be to have finished earlier so that my mother could have been here to see me graduate.”

With her degree in hand, Warner hopes to be a better employee at her job as a systems specialist with Oklahoma Natural Gas.

“I’d like to say that I aspire to be a manager or senior leader in my organization, but at my age that isn’t really in my realm of desires,” she said. “I just want to enjoy my job, not be stressed out and, should an opportunity present itself, I will be prepared for it instead of avoiding it.”

Success through support

Warner said she couldn’t have done it without the support of her family and especially her former boss, Terri Arnold, who gave her the push she needed to go back to school.

“It’s been a long road, but to finally graduate from the University of Oklahoma is a dream come true for me. I would like to thank Terri for her encouragement, belief, and friendship throughout the years. She was my boss, my mentor, and my friend. She was steadfast in her belief that I was smart enough to finish my degree, even when I wasn’t so sure myself,” she said. “Without Terri, I would not be reaching my dream of graduating from the school I love the most. I have always been an OU fan, but now I am an OU graduate.”

Interested in getting an online degree? Find out more about the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership degree and our other degrees on our website.

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.