Undefeated: Why Cynthia Jackson Never Gave up on Her Degree

CTU Graduate - Cynthia JacksonTaking the scenic route often provides a much richer experience. When pursuing higher education, the “scenic route” proved to be just that for Cynthia Jackson. Cynthia is a two-time Colorado Technical University (CTU) student who will earn her MBA with a Human Resource Management concentration this June, and will do so despite multiple moves, serious health complications and a past that could’ve held her back.

Slow Start

When Jackson was 17, the world seemed full of possibilities. With all the options laid out in front of her, Cynthia simply chose one. She began pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Computer Information System Science at the University of the District of Columbia, but ultimately did not finish.

Jackson moved on from college, but not for long. She attempted to complete her college degree three times, and through the years also got married, and had a son. Along the way, she watched her brother earn two degrees and her husband earn three. When her own attempts did not result in a completed degree program, she felt disjointed and dissatisfied, despite having a son whom she adored and a stable marriage. “It was then that I realized I was afraid of failing,” Jackson recalls. And that simply didn’t fit into her life plan. Suddenly she knew it was time to go back to school and earn her bachelor’s degree, both for her personal satisfaction and for her son’s benefit. “Watching him grow,” she says, “I realized I wanted to do better for him. I want him to see his mother as a person who accomplishes what she sets out to do.”

Road Block (x3)

Even Jackson, however, couldn’t have predicted what accomplishing that goal would entail. As she began to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management at CTU in 2005, she envisioned a successful 18-month program. In reality, it took her seven years.

Emergency surgery was the first challenge to derail Jackson’s timeline. With just 10 months to go before completing her bachelor’s degree, she landed on the operating table and then developed two serious complications that forced her to stop school.

Once she began to convalesce, however, her husband had to relocate to Korea to fulfill a military commitment. This left Jackson at home with a toddler while working full time and continuing to heal from surgery. By 2011, Jackson was back pursuing her education, but she developed severe migraine headaches. These left her sensitive to light and unable to eat or sleep adequately for several weeks.

Still, Jackson persevered. “My class work never suffered as a result,” she says. “Never once was quitting an option for me. I had to keep going!”

And keep going she did, even after her husband’s job meant moving to a different state. Her husband relocated ahead of her, leaving Jackson to manage the move by herself while completing her bachelor’s degree and coping with ongoing migraines. The online program options  allowed her to keep  up despite changing locations.

Detours Pay Off

Yet, somehow, someway, Jackson did earn her bachelor’s degree in July 2012 with high honors. And then she decided to pursue her MBA.

“There were a lot of challenges and obstacles that I had to overcome while earning my degree at CTU,” Jackson says, “but I am the better for each one. I learned how strong I really am and that obstacles come to [reveal] what we are really made of.”

They can also inspire those nearest and dearest to a person. Jackson’s 11-year-old son had once been failing two classes but, after watching his mother get up at 5 a.m. to study, is now in advanced-placement courses. “When he came to me and said, ‘Mom, you encourage me to do my best in school,’ my heart melted,” Jackson recounts.

And her son isn’t the only one to benefit from Jackson’s academic tenacity. As Jackson prepares to complete her MBA (also with high honors) on June 21, 2014, she is weighing her professional options. The reason that she wanted to earn her MBA in the first place was to teach other adults who were going back to school. She wants to help them overcome their fears. “Failure doesn’t come when you hit a wall,” Jackson counsels, “but rather when you stop hitting walls and give up. Therefore, do not give up!”

Image Credit: Cynthia Jackson