By: Loriann E. Kinney, Class of 2017
Editor’s Note: From time to time in this space, we want to share stories from our alumni as they relate their experiences with APUS and how they have impacted their careers and personal lives. This week, we feature the story of APU Psychology graduate and University Ambassador Loriann Kinney. We encourage you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your own APUS journey with us as well.
I am an American Public University graduate with a BA in psychology, but my story starts a lot further back. I am an adult learner, which means life delayed my college goals for a long time, but thankfully, age is no excuse not to try! I dreamed of college, yet when I was in high school I let my doubt that I wasn’t smart enough derail my plans for college and law school. Two weeks after I turned 19, while my high school friends were enjoying their first college spring break, I had a daughter. I was soon a single mom trying to make ends meet in my minimum wage job and thinking, “why didn’t I go to college?” At that point, college was impossible.
I later started night school to get a certificate in business administration. That opened a few more doors but still I was stuck on the bottom of that corporate ladder. My daughter wrote a report in second grade on me as her “hero;” we did our homework together and I always made her lunch and snack even after studying all night! While I felt I was sacrificing our quality time to my studies, I was teaching her valuable lessons for a lifetime: how to rally and overcome adversity.
Soon, I once again lost sight of my goal to go to college and set about building a life with my daughter and new husband, and then another newborn. Yes, college goal on hold again and for many years I didn’t even think about my education. I had two really good jobs but they were not careers that offered me the security of a college education. Then, life again happened. First, my employer of 13 years was downsizing and my administrative position was eliminated and not only did I have to accept a pay cut to stay on, I had to step down to the same position from which I had first been promoted.
I enrolled in a criminal justice program to show my son that learning is important to success, and to also facilitate a new career with some job security. I had my sights set on a career as a juvenile probation officer and I was going to get there come hell or high water! When I was six months into the program, my employer closed. Fortunately, the prior month I learned that I had been awarded a full academic scholarship. Everything was covered: books, tuition, graduation fees and even my registration fee. So, in 2012, at age 46, I walked across the stage, debt-free and a college graduate! Now, for some, that would have been good enough but I was energized and encouraged to go yet further. So, I reflected, “what did I want to be when I grew up?”
During my associates program, I entered the early intervention field. I researched a lot of online programs and learned about APU from my daughter, an Army veteran and recent graduate of American Military University. Within a couple of days, my enrollment was complete, transfer credits awarded and I was an APU student working toward my bachelor’s degree in psychology — the easiest process ever!
I have since had some setbacks and excuses to quit, but not only did I persist, I excelled. When I was less than a year from finishing, my mother-in-law became seriously ill and I was the only one with the flexibility to be her caretaker. While I studied, she encouraged me by asking about my topics for the week and what I was learning about each. I only needed to take a couple months off from school because my professors were totally understanding. They also had lives and families and understood that sometimes life hands you a lot at once. It was okay to be stressed and overwhelmed, but not to give up. I kept my eye on that prize, my diploma!
Today, I own and manage my own developmental play therapy agency with a staff of eight. I work in the field alongside these talented professionals and know I am just as educated as many of them with master’s degrees. I mentor interns that are working towards their master’s degree, and look to me for guidance. I am a valued member of my peer community and often asked for input from other companies and governing agencies.
I am a proud mother. My daughter served her country and obtained a bachelor’s in history and certificate in forensics from AMU. My son is an EMT, firefighter, college student and serves in the Army National Guard. I’m also a proud grandmother to two gifted and beautiful granddaughters. Lastly, I’m the proud wife of 25 years to a man who convinced me every day that I could do anything I set my mind to. Who am I? I am a proud and successful graduate of American Public University!
No matter what life hands you, there is always a reward waiting for you to overcome that obstacle. I am thankful that I never gave up my goal of becoming a college graduate, no matter how long it took. And I am thankful to APU for not only making it possible, but encouraging me to accomplish my goal while living my life instead of putting one on hold.