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AIU Alumna Christine Jenkins’ Story: Earning a Degree Against the Odds

Image: AIU Alumna Christine Jenkins Pursues a Trio of Business Degrees

AIU alumna Christine Jenkins is on her way to a trio of business degrees: She earned an AABA in 2011, a BBA with a specialization in healthcare management in 2013 and is currently pursuing her MBA in human resources management. Yet as a single mom raising a son on her own, Christine’s path to higher education was never assured. It took finding reserves of drive and determination she didn’t know she had to set her own goals and expectations for herself despite the negativity around her. After she posted on AIU’s Facebook page about her excitement in pursuing her goals, we asked her to share her inspiring story. Read it in her own words below.

Hello, my name is Christine Jenkins. I am a single parent raising an active 8-year-old boy whom I love and adore by the name of Isaiah. I knew coming back to school would be a great thing for myself and my son. With the ambition and drive came a lot of negativity. I had my son at the age of 20 and the only thing I could offer him was tears. I felt broken and so confused. I was able to work from job to job, but in the process I was feeling incomplete.

The option of going back to school always played as a thought in the back of my mind. I was often told to stick with the 9-5 because that's all I could really offer. I was also told that going back to school was a total waste of time because it would never amount to anything. It would only take away the bond I am supposed to build with my son. For a long time I believed it.

After a while I knew I had to step up and take that chance. For the longest time I had the hardest time getting enrolled in school. I tried everything — you name it, I pretty much tried it. One day I was on my laptop and I came across AIU. I decided to give it a try and it worked! I started out with my associate degree and I never looked back. I am currently enrolled in my master's program holding a 4.0.

I feel amazing. The fight inside of me was greater than the opinions that so many people formed. The fight inside of me allowed me to push for what I want to go after. If it's something you really want in life, if you want it bad enough, you will go after it full force no matter what. I am glad that I've made the choice to come back to school, it really has been such a blessing on so many levels, and I get to share it all with my son. He watches everything I do, he watches my every move and because he sees that I enjoy school, he is doing amazing himself.

I am doing what they said I couldn't! Some said I would be a fool to waste my time because being a single parent has no way out. Most said I wouldn't set an example for my son. Well, I am here to say what didn't kill me made me stronger. My vision is clear and I want it all. I didn't make excuses; I simply made it happen.

As I posted those lines on AIU’s Facebook page, I lit up. All of the beautiful comments and sayings from fellow students and alumni were priceless. I get joy at seeing people being moved and inspired by the things I say and do. It really meant a lot to me.

I plan to graduate next year, in July 2015, and plan to move forward with a Ph.D. I am the first of all of my siblings to go to college and finish. My mom stopped at her bachelor's; I knew I had to be different. I knew I had to set a new trend along with a strong foundation for my son and family members to follow.

I am now transitioning into the medical field. I’m working as a student intern at the Department of Health, which has allowed me to network with some powerful people in the medical field. I am also currently gathering information on how to obtain my own business. My journey with AIU wasn't easy, but I plan to make it worth it. I am so blessed and I am so thankful that I kept fighting and wanting more out of life. After hearing so many no's, I've turned it into a yes with AIU. This is only the beginning, there's no way but up from here. I am excited about my future and the many different doors that will open for me. I am on my way!

The advice I would give to others on coming back to school would be follow your heart! Stick with all you have desired because those dreams will turn into realities. Always put your best foot forward and invest in yourself. In the long run it will pay off, but it has to start with a purpose. Find that purpose and serve that purpose. Think outside the box and march to the beat of your own drum. Your dreams belong to you, so go after them with pride. Know what you want, go after it and own it! Don't be afraid to be different, because you never know who you can inspire.