On July 10, hundreds of graduates from across the world will convene in Albany, New York for Excelsior College’s 2015 Commencement, to be held at the Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany, New York. “Commencement Stories” explores the stories of a few of this year’s notable graduates.
Follow #ExcelsiorGrad2015 for all Commencement-related updates and activities.
Jenn Buyce’s decision to return to school for her degree and enroll in Excelsior College in 2011 was twenty years in the making. Now a project manager at Albany Medical Center (Albany, New York), the mother of three had put off college following high school graduation to raise her first born son. At the time, she anticipated a quick return to school.
Life, as it often does however, had other plans.
“I told myself when my son started school I would also head back for my degree,” said Buyce. “Then I had another son…and then another. I had to prioritize and my family came first.”
The time constraints of raising three sons as a single parent meant traditional schooling was out of the question. Buyce went to work as a medical secretary at Albany Medical Center, quickly working her way up to project manager, where she currently focuses on training providers on using electronic medical records in a meaningful way.
While her dreams of earning a degree were momentarily cast aside, they were not forgotten.
After learning about Excelsior College in 2010 through the Medical Center, an Excelsior partner organization, Buyce realized that her educational dreams were in reach. “I realized I didn’t have to sit in class, I could do the work on my own time, and still spend time with my family,” she says.
Buyce anticipated there would be challenges transitioning back to the classroom, especially since she had never taken an online course before. But Buyce used her project management skills and experience to carve out a study plan that balanced her home and work responsibilities with enough time to succeed with her studies.
“My boys knew that 9 pm was ‘mom time’,” she half-jokes. “Being boys they don’t always show it, but I know they are proud of me and what I’ve been able to accomplish. And they are definitely excited that I’ll have more time to spend with them.”
Buyce graduates with a 3.9 GPA and a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degree, a program she chose to pursue to leverage her experience in the health care field. Her favorite courses focused on conflict and stress management.
“My degree has helped me communicate better and take a broader look at issues,” said Buyce. “I now take a look at the big picture and explore the potential impact of every decision. It’s made me a better employee.”
There were obstacles along the way for sure, and without a support system at home, Buyce often felt extra pressure. Yet, in difficult times, she looked to her mother for inspiration.
“My mother passed away in 2011, right when I started,” said Buyce. “I did this for her.”