When Angel Kearns decided to return to school, she had a lot on her plate as a wife, mother of four and a grandmother.
But she maintained a home, family, job and near-perfect grade point average while pursuing College of DuPage’s 3+1 Management degree program with a focus in Accounting from Benedictine University. Her biggest challenge was balancing class, work and family schedules.
“I have great kids, a great husband, and they all stepped up. My bosses were awesome, too. I’m very fortunate that a lot of people were behind me,” she said.
Her moment of truth came in 2010, when Kearns looked ahead and couldn’t see working as a server for the next 20 years. She imagined the physical demands, for one, would be too taxing. Hoping to boost her earning power, Kearns came to COD to explore her options.
Kearns met with Angela Nackovic, Adult Admissions representative, who helped her with everything from deciding the best career path to securing scholarships to cover a good portion of the expenses, and Andrea Liedtke, Adult Fast Track coordinator, who helped her draft a master plan for the next four years.
“Angela and Andrea gave me all the tools I needed to keep going,” she said. “If you seek out the right people and the right avenues, the help is amazing.”
The first semester was the hardest for the quiet, shy Kearns, who wondered how she would fit in.
“Fortunately, I took speech with Marco Benassi. He just opened up my world,” she said. “I realized I need to present myself in class and not just hide in the back corner. I need to make myself known, open up and participate more so that I have a good networking system when I'm done. And who knows, maybe that 20-year-old kid in my class could be my boss in five years.”
Kearns is proud of how far she has come. In 2013 she was hired at a local, family-owned accounting firm and was able to give up her restaurant job. In fall 2014, she began the Benedictine portion of her degree – making the Dean’s list each semester – and graduated in December 2015 with high honors.
She started the IRS Enrolled Agent program that concentrates on tax accounting and gives her all the rights a CPA has with clients. Kearns moved back to her small hometown in upstate New York and began her dream of owning a business, Angel’s Tax and Accounting Services, where she works with individuals and small business owners. She also is the senior tax accountant at O’Haver Financial.
Her youngest son, Dylan, will begin taking classes at College of DuPage in fall 2017.
“He loves that I know who and how to get things done at COD,” she said. “We are having fun picking his classes with teachers I had that I know he will thrive with. He has really learned from watching all my hard work and knows how important this opportunity is for him. I love watching life go full circle.”
She feels truly blessed with the path she has taken since returning to college and thanks COD for all of its support.
“None of this would be possible without the dedication College of DuPage has for its students,” she said. “I feel smarter. I dress better. I feel like a better person. I’m going to contribute something. This experience has taught me that I'm stronger than I thought. Coming in, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this. It has made me a better, stronger woman and a role model for my children.
“COD’s adult education advisors, teachers and many others helped me transition to Benedictine to finish my goals and are still supporting and encouraging me today.”
College of DuPage
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2017 College of DuPage