This is a woman who earned her associate degree and then her bachelor’s degree without hesitation. Who worked as a coach and consultant for major companies so she could be home to raise her two sons. Whose “passion and prayer” led her to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), where she’d once been treated for clubfoot and where she now works as a talent acquisition diversity and inclusion consultant. Fear might be the last motivator you’d ascribe to Weaver.
Weaver grew up in Cincinnati, where her mother worked as a licensed practical nurse. “Education was important for my family, but my mom didn’t have all the tools,” Weaver reflects.
Nor did Weaver have enough perspective to pursue her bachelor’s degree right after high school. Eager to join the workforce and make her way in the world, she instead completed her associate degree and got a job.
“As you mature, you learn that you need to get a little bit more education for [career enhancement],” she says ruefully.
So, while her husband’s own pursuit of a master’s degree took them to Boston for a time, Weaver seized the opportunity to complete her bachelor’s degree. By the time they returned to Ohio, diplomas in hand, Weaver was pregnant with the second of the couple’s two sons.
Thus began a period when Weaver consulted and coached from home so she could raise her children. Her husband, a pastor, completed his doctoral degree. She returned to full-time work when her kids were in middle school, and she made sure they got those bachelor’s degrees after they graduated high school.
When the pandemic hit, Weaver started reevaluating what should come next for her. She joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, where she encountered many successful Black women whose example inspired her to attend to the gaps in her own education. Not long after joining the sorority, she enrolled in University of Phoenix’s MBA program.
This is about the time when fear gripped Weaver. She’d chosen University of Phoenix based on word-of-mouth recommendations and the fact that her employer offered tuition assistance. And while a lot of schools were heading online in the midst of lockdowns, Weaver had some serious reservations about how she could succeed in the virtual classroom.
As it turned out, the self-described extrovert didn’t have to worry. She used the same interpersonal skills that made her successful in HR to build an online community at school. Like her team at work, her go-to peer group was diverse, passionate and committed to helping each other succeed. One woman, for example, was from Australia but living in Idaho and missing her family during the lockdown. Another lived closer to Weaver in Cleveland but who navigated the degree program while pregnant and then with a newborn.
“It became personal for me,” Weaver says. “It was important that I connect with people.”
This is how Weaver approaches work as well. Weaver’s direct supervisor at CCHMC, Viki Kerek, has worked with Weaver for more than a decade, noting, “Chantal is a caring colleague, and this has only grown over the last 13 years. She often reaches out to other talent acquisition staff who might be struggling to lend whatever help she can — sometimes just an ear, other times jumping right in.”
Weaver’s MBA was personal in another way too. Six months after she started the program, Weaver’s son began his own master’s program.
“Their dad has his doctorate,” Weaver says. “They’ve been watching Dad. He’s a smart dude. But to see Mom — I stayed home. I made huge sacrifices … because I needed to know that [they] knew I was here. … Then they see me, this professional lady, going back to get her degree. … My second child starts his master’s program on Saturday. Everyone in my family has advanced degrees.”