My name is Dee Dee Collette, and I am the Technology Program Chair for Herzing University Online and the Herzing-New Orleans campus. My job is a perfect fit, but the journey wasn’t always easy! I’d like to share my personal and professional story with you, and I hope that it is both an inspiration and a reminder that you are not alone in your challenges. With a little hard work, patience and determination, you can achieve great success!
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It was a crisp afternoon in February when I first walked through the doors of Herzing University in Madison, Wis. I sat down in the admissions office and said, “I want to enroll in the Computer Networking program. Yes, I know classes start on Monday, but I’m ready.”
Earlier that day, I had been overlooked for a promotion at work and that sparked my stubborn determination to make a change. At the time, I was the single parent of an awesome 3-year-old girl. I had been working as many hours as possible at a local department store trying to keep a roof over our head and food on our table. I wanted to make something of myself and had set my eyes on the store’s management training program. I volunteered for extra hours, stayed late and worked holidays in an attempt to work my way up. When I didn’t get the job, I knew there had to be something better in store for me. I also knew that I needed a degree to make it happen. I decided to enroll in Herzing’s IT program because the industry was growing quite rapidly and I felt that a career in technology would provide stability for my family and me.
The next few years, I spent many hours in the library, the bookstore, the park and the McDonald’s playland—anywhere my daughter could play safely nearby while I spread my books across the table to study. There were days that I had to choose between paying the electric bill and filling up the car with gas. I received several late notices on my apartment door. Sometimes, my daughter would get sick, or her daycare would close without notice, or my car would break down, and needless to say, my homework wasn’t always turned in on time. It wasn’t easy! My instructors were firm, yet understanding. My classmates quickly became like family, and I’ve remained lifelong friends with many of them. We studied together, struggled together and ultimately succeeded together.
I graduated in 2004 with my A.S. in Computer Networking and my B.S. in Business Technology Management. I later went on to complete my MBA in Technology Management at another institution. Since completing my degree, I’ve held a variety of different positions in business, information technology and higher education.
A year and a half ago, I had the awesome opportunity to join the faculty at Herzing, first as an adjunct instructor and later as the Technology Program Chair. I was excited to return to the place that had marked one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. I consider myself blessed to have the opportunity to help others overcome obstacles, discover their potential and obtain a degree that will change their lives and the lives of their families in the future.
I know how hard it can be, and I know that some days you will want to give up. I know it’s hard to keep pushing on when life seems to be weighing on you from all directions. However, I also know that it’s possible to succeed despite the obstacles. I know how incredible it feels to finish that degree and how empowering it is to take back control of your family’s future.
It’s easy to get caught up in what seems to be going wrong. It can be frustrating when things aren’t going the way you think it should. That being said, sometimes you’ve just got to pull on what I like to call your “stomping boots,” stand up, move forward and crush the obstacles that are in front of you. It may not be perfect.
It may not always be pretty. It definitely won’t be easy, but it can happen, and you’re the only one who can do it!
Dee Dee Collette is the Technology Program Chair for Herzing University Online and Herzing-New Orleans campus. She is a mother to a 10-year-old son and a 19-year-old daughter, who is currently enrolled in Herzing’s business program. In her spare time, Dee Dee likes to play volleyball and also enjoys euchre, board games and trivia. Her personal mantras include: be proactive, not reactive; be approachable; be an awesome communicator; be organized; and, above all, enjoy what you do.