By Laurie Davies
Tragedy also played a role. Her ex-husband was killed in a car crash in 2009, leaving her with the sobering prospect of supporting their kids, ages 12 and 15, by herself. “I knew I could not continue to survive off of a medical assistant salary,” Cascia says.
She graduated with a 4.0 GPA and quickly put in the rearview mirror the many late nights spent writing papers. Two months after earning her BSIT, Cascia enrolled in University of Phoenix’s competency-based MHA program, a degree program designed for working professionals with at least three years’ experience in a healthcare environment. The degree can be completed in less than 12 months for under $11,000. “A lot of that was brand-new material. I was challenged the entire time,” she says.
Both diplomas hang proudly on her office wall, above her computer screen — right where she can see them. “I look at them all the time,” she says.
Reflecting now, it’s funny to Cascia that she wasn’t sure if she had what it took to earn one degree — and she pressed forward to earn two.
She set out to earn her bachelor’s degree because she wanted career mobility, and she wanted to show her kids that she had dreams. In the end, she showed herself something too. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could finish any goal. It didn’t matter how old I was,” she says. “I get choked up when I feel the pride that comes from this accomplishment. It was so exhausting, but it’s one of my biggest accomplishments.”