Ten years after graduating from North College Hill High School, Kimberlee Keeling made what she termed as the best decision of her life. The single mother enrolled at Chatfield College to start working on her social work degree in April 2008.
βI made lifelong friends, gained connections and earned valuable networking,β said Keeling. βI had fun learning. At times it was hard and frustrating, but I got to learn things that I wouldn't have been able to any other way. β
After completing her two-year degree, Keeling is back at Chatfield taking a few more classes prior to enrolling at the University of Cincinnati's Raymond Walters campus. She is fulfilling her foreign language and political science requirements before the start of the winter quarter.
Keeling's stay on the satellite campus will be short-lived as she plans on matriculating to the Clifton campus in the fall of 2012.
It's definitely a success story for the small Catholic school with campuses in Brown County and near Findlay Market. More importantly, it marks success for Keeling β" who simply wanted more out of life for her and her daughter than her job at Wal-Mart could afford her.
βIt wasn't going to get much better,β said Keeling. βThere is a lot of stuff that I want and that I want for my daughter.β
Chatfield marked the fourth attempt at post graduate education for Keeling. After working on and off for nearly four years, and two attempts at cosmetology school, Keeling kept seeing advertisements for a proprietary college, so she decided to give it a shot. Everything was going well and she was on track to graduate with her medical assistant license, and she was looking forward to her next step. She wanted to attend the School of Mortuary Science.
However, there was a small problem. Due to the proprietary college's lack of accreditation, none of her credits transferred and she would have to start from scratch. To make this worse, she would have been close to working on dead bodies in the state of Kentucky. While Ohio requires four years of medical field training, Kentucky only required two.
The setback sent her on a road of soul searching and eventually led Keeling to realize that social work, not medicine, was her calling. Her mother did work with the Working in Neighborhoods program in Cumminsville and one day she decided to tag along. She had the realization that she could help more people through social work than medicine.
Keeling did her internship at Job & Family Services, which she termed as an eye-opening experience.
β(After years of being on assistance) I got to see the other side of the desk,β she said. βI came to realize, with the women I encountered, that I was sheltered. Until you're the worker with a client on the other side of the desk, you don't understand.β