Finding the right college at just the right time proved to be the catalyst for a major career change for Kimberly David.
She attended college for two years after she graduated from high school, but wasn’t really ready to make the most of it. David worked as an administrative assistant, but it never felt like a career path. In 2011, a friend told her about a job opening as a paraprofessional at B.E.S.T. Academy High School at Benjamin S. Carson in Atlanta, and she was hired.
“I’m a very patient person and creative. It’s often challenging to engage these kids, so I suggested what I call a 'bob-and-weave’ approach to subjects,” said David, 30.
She uses videos, games and other activities to reinforce lessons. Approaching it from different ways keeps it interesting and addresses different learning styles.
“Sometimes you have to use unconventional ways to meet conventional needs,” she said.
Working in education got David thinking about her own desire to learn more. A friend had gone back to school and encouraged her to do the same.
“When I found out that she was at Point University in Atlanta, I couldn’t believe it. That’s where I had gone for two years when it was called Atlanta Christian College,” she said.
David talked to an admissions counselor and discovered that she could continue working as a paraprofessional, attend class one night a week and earn a bachelor’s degree at the same time. Each of her classes is five weeks long.
“I hadn’t been in a classroom in 10 years when I came here, but I am totally sold on this university,” David said. “Being in the right kind of environment was important to me. It’s cozy, yet challenging.
“My teachers encourage me to be myself and to learn ways to meet my goals. And I’m developing relationships with my classmates.”
Before David began taking classes, she took a StrengthsQuest assessment to help identify her personal strengths and talents. That way she could focus on classes that would develop her strengths.
“It turns out (that) I’m a very strategic thinker. While many people only look about 10 feet ahead down the road, I can see 50 feet and the different paths available,” she said.
David also discovered that she has aptitudes for accepting responsibility, developing strategies and people, and an interest in restoring things and situations to a better condition.
Because of her administrative background and interest in helping others, David chose to major in human relations.
“I thought that major would give me the skills to be an awesome support person,” David said.
Then she took a class on entrepreneurship.
“During that class, I got several ideas for a consulting business. It was a major 'ah-ha’ moment when I realized that I’m an entrepreneur,” she said. “It never would have crossed my mind without this kind of education, but when it happened it felt like a divine destiny moment.”
David realized that she had a passion for organizational leadership, so she switched to a bachelor’s degree in that field. Her new, long-term career path is to start a consulting business to help for-profit and nonprofit organizations identify strategies for developing leaders, targeting markets and meeting their goals. Classes such as conflict management and marketing management are helping David hone her business plan.
“I had no idea that there was so much involved in marketing management,” she said. “I’ve been looking at businesses and brands from a consumer aspect. Now I’m learning to think differently, more strategically, about marketing.”
David has already put some of her conflict management knowledge to work in the classroom.
“I never thought I had the capability to do that before, but now I think, 'Why not me’ ?” she said.
David, who plans to graduate in December 2014, hopes to be part of Point University’s first cohort of organizational leadership master’s degree students.
“Ultimately, I want to have my own consulting business, but I need a lot more education first,” she said.
David has discovered that working 30 hours a week while going to school takes time management and adaptability. She was hesitant to enroll in college after 10 years away, but she has learned that it’s never too late to pursue a dream.
“Finding the right environment was vital to my going back and staying in school. You need to be surrounded by people who will encourage you,” she said. “I couldn’t help but grow to be my best in this soil.”