Being a single mom with two teenaged sons and dealing with health problems might slow most people down, but not AIU Online business program alumna Patti Kowalski. “There are always struggles in life. It all comes down to how determined you are,” she says.
Patti earned her Associate of Arts in Business Administration in 2010 and her Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in Healthcare Management in 2012 from AIU. Now, she’s tackling her MBA, also with a specialization in Healthcare Management.
“I have always had a passion for helping others, coming from a large family and my health being up and down,” Patti says of her choice of degree program. “I believe it helps others find the strength to stand back up after a surgery, or get healthy when a heart attack comes in to play.” She’s also seen too many situations where “doctors and staff treat people like a number. I would love to see a change, and I want to be the one to change that.”
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It was when her eldest son started looking at colleges that she decided to get her degree. “I chose to do this not only for me, but for my sons. If I can [get my degree] with all my struggles, they’ll see they can do it too.”
Determination to forge ahead despite obstacles is in the family lineage. “My mom went back to school while she was raising four teenagers and working two jobs after my dad passed away. If my mom can do it, I can do it. … No matter how hectic your life can be, there is always time for education. It can only improve your situation,” she says.
While health issues currently prevent her from working, Patti says her degrees have helped her in everyday life. “It really helped me with time management. When you are under pressure, the small lessons you learned from your courses and instructors will help you focus and stay more organized. I’ve put those skills into real life. I have many pills I need to take every week—I make a spreadsheet. I can’t work so I won’t get a paycheck—I need to budget.”
Patti finds the courage to push on from the Rascal Flatts’ song “Stand” and this Rocky Balboa quote from the movie “Rocky”: “It ain’t about how hard you’re hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.”
“My health knocks me down. I don’t pity myself, I stay focused,” Patti says. “There’s so much negativity out there. Prove that you won’t let others lower your self-esteem. Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back. Strive forward and conquer.”
And Patti has done just that—all the way from her associate degree to soon, her online MBA. “You have to change with the times; you have to stay current. I’ve been out of work a few years, so I need to keep up with updates and the technology. I would love to be able to return to work and run either a nursing home or a clinic where doctors and staff have a passion for helping others and not treating [patients] as a number.”
Patti is excited to be pursuing her master’s degree. “With an associate, you got a degree. With your bachelor’s, you found a passion. But with your master’s, you’re saying ‘I love this field.’ If you really want to excel, get that master’s. … Don’t focus on ‘It’s too hard, I can’t do this.’ It’s five to 10 weeks. Do it for yourself. Determine what you want out of life and push forward.”