On July 11, Excelsior College will host its annual Commencement ceremony at the Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany, New York. With ‘Commencement Stories’, Excelsior Life explores the personal and educational journeys of a few of this year’s outstanding graduates. Follow #ExcelsiorGrad2014 for all Commencement-related updates and activities.
From an early age, Nicole Ford, a project manager at Albany (New York) Medical Center, knew what she wanted out of life, just not how she would eventually achieve it. Born in upstate, N.Y. Nicole, the daughter of a minister, relocated often growing up.
After earning an undergraduate degree in psychology from Nyack College, she put her roots down in a suburb just outside of Albany, N.Y. She took a job as a project coordinator at a private pre-school. Soon she moved onto a corporately-owned school, where she took on teaching and management responsibilities. After the school downsized, Nicole searched the local region for an opportunity that would allow her to use her skills, professionally, to push for positive social change.
“I wanted to be in a profession that helped people,” says Nicole. “I chose Albany Medical Center because of its reputation.”
Eventually, Nicole realized to grow professionally, she would need an advanced academic credential. Considering her employer, a health care degree was a natural fit. Her research led to Excelsior College and its MBA program, which introduced a Health Care Management concentration during her first semester.
“Many higher level management positions require a graduate degree,” said Nicole. “I have a background in finance, Human Resources, and management. With a degree, I knew I would have a strong foundational base.”
Balancing her studies with home and work life was difficult at times, but Nicole had experience with time management. “I’m a project manager, so I’m used to juggling,” she says.
Excelsior was Nicole’s first foray into online learning. Despite initial trepidation, she found Excelsior’s staff and professors helpful and the experience rewarding.
“The online courses gave me the chance to collaborate with peers from across the globe, each with different points of view,” said Nicole. “It really enriched my learning; as was the chance to apply what I was learning to my day-to-day responsibilities.”
Nicole was supported along the way by her family, many of whom will join her at Commencement to cheer her on, including her husband, parents, brothers, nieces and nephews.
Even with an MBA in hand, however, Nicole plans to continue her educational pursuits. She’s exploring Albany Medical Center’s “Grow Your Own” nursing recruitment program.
“To have that clinical background will help me have the greatest impact,” said Nicole.
As for her advice to others whom may be thinking about a return to school?
“Think about what you are passionate about. Earning a degree is hard work. You need that passion to ensure you remain motivated enough to finish the journey.”