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After long pause, graduating student perseveres in earning degree

Student Chau “Casey” Nguyen’s journey took nearly 25 years. In between, she worked full time and helped her ailing father during his final years.

By Matthew Cimitile, University Communications and Marketing

For some students, the path to earning a college degree isn’t a straight line as they juggle responsibilities and competing demands. 

Chau “Casey” Nguyen’s journey took nearly 25 years. In between, she worked full time and helped her ailing father during his final years. 

This fall, her persistence will be rewarded as she graduates with a bachelor’s degree in General Business Studies.

“It means a lot to me and I believe it would have meant a lot for my father. He would be proud,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen enrolled at St. Petersburg College in 1999. Upon receiving her Associate in Arts (AA) degree in 2002, she came to the University of South Florida to pursue a Business degree. 

Her academic career was one of fits and starts. Due to her full-time job – first working on an assembly line and later in quality control for a medical device company – she was never able to take more than a couple of classes each semester. After attending for a few years, she took a pause to pursue an interest in the design field.

She started back and attended from 2007 through 2011, but this time stopped as her father’s health deteriorated. She became a primary caregiver to him. 

“School is something I wanted to do but life always came up,” Nguyen said.

Her father passed away in 2013. The loss left her reeling and without a sense of direction. Nguyen said it took her awhile to get back on track. 

“Throughout my college years, I have always had to work full-time, help my family when needed and support myself. It has never been an easy path,” she said. 

When Nguyen returned to USF St. Petersburg earlier this year, she sought the advice of Academic Advisor Julie Harding in the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance to evaluate her course and credit history and discuss options to graduate. They discovered she just needed a couple of credits to complete a degree in General Business Studies.

Now, as Nguyen finishes her final class in Strategic Management and Decision Making, she hopes earning a college degree will open doors into fields such as advertising and marketing or provide new opportunities and promotions. 

“I’m hoping that finishing this goal and earning this degree will make my future brighter and easier,” she said.

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