An educated resolution

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Susan Shultz made a New Year’s resolution three years ago that she has every intention of completing.

“I’m 37, it’s not like I’m in my 60s ready to retire,” Shultz said. “I think if you have an opportunity to advance yourself you can’t not take it.”

Shultz is in her third year of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting with Strayer University, which offers online and adult education plans for non-traditional students. Like many high school graduates, Shultz had big plans to enter college right after grabbing her diploma. What she discovered though was that she wasn’t truly committed to pursuing the degree in physical education that she originally sought after. She couldn’t get excited about her plans even though her whole life in middle and high school revolved around athletics.

“It wasn’t in my heart,” Shultz said. “I realized that wasn’t the road I needed to take because it wouldn’t just be about being in a gymnasium.”

When she dropped out of Jeff State at 19, she pursued other jobs for about two years before landing a position as an accounting assistant at HealthSouth, where she remains today. It was there that she realized she had a knack for crunching numbers and asset management.

“I made it through five or six years of layoffs and just felt like that must be a sign that this was where I needed to be,” Shultz said. “What I didn’t need to do was be limited by not having a degree.”

Shultz said she needed a bachelor’s degree to get any further in her career. That’s when she made the decision to go back to school.

The tough part of that move was balancing her work life, school and family. Shultz said the last thing she wanted was for her family life to suffer. Instead, she’s learned to juggle it all and found a way to spend every extra second with her husband and 11-year-old son Dalton.

She even sits down at night to do homework with her son – he with a social studies book and she with an accounting book.

“It’s huge for my son to see his mom making the effort to better herself,” Shultz said. “I want him to see what it means to work hard for something.”

Shultz has worked hard to keep this commitment to herself and her family. She’s made the dean’s list every quarter and even studies on her lunch break with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in one hand and pencil in the other.