"Loving the Journey" leads to success

December 19, 2013

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Kathleen Speaker

A black belt knows that to achieve a goal you need patience, determination, and dedication. When Kathleen Speaker decided she wanted to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice while raising four kids, working a full-time job, and continuing her karate training, she knew it would be a challenge. But a challenge has never scared off Speaker.

Speaker has always taken on each new adventure with a positive attitude. She has served in the Navy, worked as a law enforcement officer, and trained as a martial artist for over a decade. She currently teaches law enforcement courses for Jo Daviess – Carroll Area Vocational Center, and hopes to teach at the college level one day. She felt it was time to take the first step toward that goal by earning her master’s degree, but didn’t want it to come at the cost of her family or students. UW-Platteville’s online program provided the perfect opportunity.

“My kids and students had to come first,” Speaker said. “I had a lot of time constraints, but this program was great. Thank goodness for distance education. I couldn’t have made this work on campus.”

Speaker said she was “blown away” at how attentive her professors were and the quality of the feedback they provided. She also praised her classmates, saying the healthy debates and discussions were some of her favorite parts of the class. Having the support of the faculty and her fellow students was crucial to her success, but she knew the real driving force came from within. 

“To succeed you have to have a passion; you’ve got to love what you’re doing,” Speaker said. “I loved this journey, and I would tell any student, ‘you have to love the journey if you’re going to succeed’.”

While Speaker was able to complete her degree online, she chose to attend the graduation ceremony on campus, which is an option for any distance student. For her, it was a great opportunity to meet her instructors and celebrate her achievement. And while the day was focused on all her achievements, she was already looking forward to her next challenge. Speaker hopes to begin working on her Ph.D. soon, allowing her to enhance her teaching and research. She is also exploring adjunct opportunities, even some possibilities at her new alma mater, UW-Platteville.

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