Erin Kascsak knows the exact moment she decided to go back to school.

“I remember feeling so proud of my best friend when I watched her walk across the stage when she graduated from Baker in 2009,” Kascsak said. “She too was a single mom and I thought to myself, ‘I want what she just accomplished.’”

Kascsak’s friend loved the level of academic support she had received while at Baker, and encouraged her to check it out. Kascsak begin discussing Baker with her stepdad, and realized she had an alumnus in the family, her uncle Jim.

“I talked to him and he had nothing but good things to say about the university as well,” she said. “I also like that Baker is highly accredited, is a top-rated private school, and shares many of the same values as I do: building strong relationships, helping others, and diversity and inclusion.”

While Kascsak’s family and friends steered her toward Baker, she had her own personal reasons for pursuing a degree.

“I wanted to build a better life for myself, be a good role model for my son, and further myself in my career,” she said. “I became a single mom in my early 20s; therefore, I was not able to go back to school with an infant. I tried for many years to go back, but the timing just wasn’t right. With my son being older, I knew it was the right time for me to try again.”

In 2015, Kascsak enrolled in the Bachelor of Business of Business Administration with a major in leadership program. She completed the entire program online, but always felt like she was part of the Baker family.

“When I was thriving, they were there to cheer me on,” Kascsak said. “When I was struggling, they were all there to lift me up, encourage me, and keep me motivated, just like a family does. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was part of something bigger. I knew, without a doubt, that I was in the right place at the right time.”

During her business program, Kascsak quickly learned that her growth would extend well beyond papers and assignments.

“One of the biggest things I learned fairly early on at Baker was the importance of my mind-set,” she said. “The mind is an extremely powerful thing. My mind-set sets my daily tone and can limit me or help me thrive, and this is especially true in my career.”

Kascsak found many aspects of her courses to be immediately applicable.

“It seemed as if the courses I took were scheduled at the exact time I needed them,” she said. “I appreciated how we were able to relate the topics we were learning in our online courses to our personal experiences in our careers. The online discussion boards were extremely helpful because we were able to read about everyone’s experiences, their view on the topics, and advice on how to handle certain situations. Baker also prepared me for how to deal with a wide variety of personalities and the effects of organizational cultures on organizational climates.”

One of the biggest benefits Kascsak gained from her course work and class discussions was developing her skills as a leader.

“I learned the difference between being a manager versus being a leader,” she said. “Being a leader is not about your own personal success; it is about helping those you are leading to reach their goals and be the best they can be.”

Her academic advisor, Carol Reed, says she is impressed with Kascsak’s academic aptitude. Kascsak will graduate magna cum laude and is a member of Sigma Beta Delta honor society.

“Erin is amazing,” said Reed. “She pushed through and worked hard, even when it was difficult to keep going. I loved working with her through her program.”

Kascsak will graduate on December 15, fulfilling her original goal of being a role model to her son. Kascsak says his support and the encouragement of her family has made this dream a reality.

“Family is of the utmost importance to me,” she said. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their constant, unwavering love and support.”

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