Karen Perez knows about the profound impact that quality care can have on those in need; she’s watched those she loves live without it. Her brother's inadequate experience in a nursing home inspired her to pursue a healthcare career, where she could help others to locate the compassionate care that her brother did not receive.
“Seeing my brother move from nursing home to nursing home without receiving the care he deserved was frustrating, heartbreaking, and ultimately motivating,” Karen shared. “It fueled my drive to join this in-demand field; I just needed to find the right degree and the path that was right for me.”
After seeing Herzing’s integration of psychology and social work into their healthcare curriculum, she knew that a degree from Herzing encompassed everything she wanted. She enrolled in Herzing’s healthcare administration management program. This online degree allowed Karen to have flexibility without sacrificing high-quality education.
“As a single mom with a full-time job, it was important to me that I was at a school that could accommodate my busy schedule,” Karen shared. “My professors and counselors went above and beyond to ensure that I felt supported throughout the entire experience. I wouldn’t have been able to handle it without them.”
Yet, Karen didn’t just ‘handle’ her classes, she excelled in them, making the President’s List three times and the Dean’s List once. Her passion, drive and talent resulted in her earning multiple academic scholarships. These scholarships helped her expand the opportunities available to her and created solutions to afford her higher education.
“The assistance and backing that I received at Herzing showed me the value of asking for help and having a strong support system,” Karen said. “Being able to manage my time allowed me to effectively balance my responsibilities, including prioritizing every free moment I could with my son.
Being a positive example for her son was also a major motivator for Karen to continue working hard, even in the most strenuous situations.
“I can’t be hard on my son for not earning good grades if I’m not earning those grades myself,” Karen said. “He was a huge motivation for me, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this. I was never really an exemplary student, so I saw this as an opportunity to challenge myself and grow as a result.”
Like many adult learners, Karen graduated with more than just classroom knowledge - she gained valuable life experience that aids her in her professional career. Even before her time at Herzing, Karen began a career working as a teaching assistant at a nonprofit youth mental health rehabilitation center. There, she worked with students suffering from mental illness, many of whom she empathized with.
“These kids have the mindset that I did in high school, that school sucks and it isn’t important. I tell them not to wait as long as I did to start trying and to apply themselves,” she said. “I want to give them the same chance that Herzing gave me, providing them with all the tools to succeed.”
While classes like psychology and healthcare management gave Karen the skills to thrive in her career, it was the journey itself that she is most proud of.
“Going back to school taught me so much about myself, and made me a better leader for my students,” Karen explained. “Herzing showed me how much a dedicated support system can have in impacting a student’s success. I want to demonstrate that same support for my students and instill the motivation and drive that I found in myself.”