Kristie Weil, an Office Administration major at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC), is on the verge of a significant personal accomplishment. After finishing an internship and three last classes this spring, she will complete an associate’s degree and graduate with honors. Such an achievement was never a foregone conclusion, especially considering the challenges faced along the way.
Her greatest challenge came with the sudden death of her mother from ovarian cancer only a few months before her high school graduation in January 1997.
“We didn’t know that she had [cancer] until after she passed. She had flu like symptoms for a few days, and we took her to the hospital thinking she was dehydrated, but that wasn’t the case,” she said.
Kristie not only lost her mother, she also lost her own personal cheerleader.
“My mom was always the one pushing me in school and encouraging me to go to college,” Kristie said. “I was never the best student, but she was always there to get me through. She always joked that at my high school graduation she was going to run down and steal the diploma from me because she had earned it too.”
Kristie took a year off after high school, no doubt still reeling from the loss of her mother.
“I worked two jobs,” she said. “That was the deal I made with my Dad for not going to school.” Attending Bucks County Community College a year later, she failed every class in her first semester. Over the next few years, Kristie made several attempts to return to college, but the timing never seemed right.
After working at a daycare for several years, Kristie decided to pursue work as a nanny.
“I wanted more one on one interaction with the children, and the money was also a bit better, “she said.
Working with Perfect Nanny in Lansdale, Kristie soon found a full-time position.
“It was the first interview I went on,” Kristie said, “and I was the first Nanny [the family] interviewed. It was a perfect fit and meant to be!” Eleven years later, Kristie is still with the same family.
But a nanny role is inherently temporary. As the children (two girls) grew, Kristie’s role shifted somewhat from that of nanny to personal assistant. Encouraged by the family, she considered returning to school. She enrolled at MCCC in 2009 “because I could get the Office Administration degree in two years and entirely online.” The flexibility of the online program was the best option for Kristie, who also works at Home Depot on the weekends.
Kristie received a lot of support from Theresa Sullivan, coordinator of the Office Administration program at MCCC.
“She’s just been incredible,” Kristie said. “She helped arrange the internship at Home Depot, the substitution of one class for another, and made sure I could graduate this spring.”
With her nanny role ending in the fall of 2012, Kristie’s primary wish is to find a job after graduation. More specifically, “my dream is to be a personal assistant, but there is a certification you need for that,” Kristie said. “I would love to work in the city, but I don’t know exactly what I want to do.”
For now, she continues to press toward her goal of completing her degree with the best grades possible.
“I have worked really hard to get all A’s since I came back, not just for myself, but for my Mom too,” Kristie said. “I feel like it is a way to honor her and make her proud. Even though she is gone, she is still pushing me to do my best. It just took me a while to get there.”
~ by Tamara A. Measler