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Mother and Son Graduate Together

CTU Alumni - Kathleen and Dan KieferKathleen Kiefer has worked at Lockheed Martin for 33 years and enjoys her job, but knew she needed a little extra push to keep moving up. She needed a degree.

When she enrolled in school, at first she was just “checking a box”. But after transferring into CTU’s online program, she gained confidence and realized she really wanted to keep going and earn her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a Management concentration.

So much so, that her son Daniel took note as he watched her excel in her courses.

“I knew that if I wanted to work in something other than retail, I needed to finish my degree,” Daniel said.

Daniel had pursued classes at a local university in Atlanta, but didn’t enjoy it. He found taking four classes at once, plus working his full-time retail job, was not allowing him to succeed academically.

Kathleen let him sit in on a few CTU classes with her. When he saw how much she was enjoying it and got a feel for the online classroom environment, he decided to enroll and earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration, with a Marketing concentration.

The scheduling made it easy for the two to keep up with classes. Both could listen to live chats on their own time and do homework to suit their schedule.

In time, the two found their academic programs synching up, and they ended up taking the same courses at the same time.

“If we had the same instructor too, that’s when we’d get really competitive,” Kathleen laughs. But in addition to friendly competition, the two supported each other and relied on each other’s strengths to help them succeed.

“I would never have passed the marketing classes without inspiration from Daniel’s creativity,” Kathleen said.

Kathleen emphasized the importance of a support system, and encouraged others to gather their own. One of her first instructors instilled this lesson, encouraging students not to be afraid to ask for help. Kathleen and Daniel took this advice to heart and helped each other through many challenges.

Daniel, who hopes to use his retail experience and degree to launch into a marketing career, also helped his mother with statistics. His strengths lie in mathematics and a creative approach, while Kathleen’s corporate experience proved valuable in many of the duo’s management courses.

When they were enrolled in the same class, both Daniel and Kathleen deepened their understanding of the topic by discussing the course material together, and occasionally even listening in on each other’s live chats.

The two supported each other through trials big and small, motivating each other to keep going. There were trips to Starbucks when the Internet went out at home, and there was coaching each other through moments of anxiety as they faced challenging courses.

The pair were each other’s support network, and even better, they had another source of support at home.  Kathleen’s husband – and Daniel’s father - Bob picked up the slack around the house, cooking meals, cleaning, and doing everything he could to ensure the two could focus on their schoolwork.

“We could not have done this without his support,” Kathleen says.

The two celebrated their achievements at a graduation ceremony in Kansas City in May.

“This went from checking a box to a strength that I could do this,” Kathleen says. “I didn’t think I was smart enough but it gave me the confidence to complete this and go for the next level.”