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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Graduate from online Human Resource Administration program never imagined college for herself

June 4, 2015
Online human resource administration graduate Martha Miller
Martha Miller smiles every time she realizes she is now a college graduate.

Martha Miller was content for many years to be a stay-at-home mom for her two young boys. When Alexander and Matthew were finally old enough, she took a job managing a little market on the Naval Air Station in Fallon, Nev. Even that step out of the home was a little intimidating.

“All I had was two little ones around me, and now I would have to converse with adults,” says Martha. “That’s not such an easy thing when you go back into the work force after staying home for such a long time.”

Those few years at the market gave her enough courage to apply for a position in Human Resources with the Community Support Program on base. Three years ago, Martha and her husband, Curtis, transferred to the Lemoore Naval Air Station, where she works as a Human Resource Assistant and serves 300 employees.

“I do everything including hiring, background checks, administrative paperwork, disciplinary actions and helping managers with any questions or concerns they have,” she says.

Slowly an idea began to take seed and grow. Martha thought she might strengthen her job security through education.

“If my husband was to get another position out of this area, my experience, plus a degree would make me more marketable,” she reasoned. But, something deep inside made her hesitate. “When it comes to my self-esteem; I just don’t have a lot of it,” she confesses.

Curtis, who was getting his Master’s degree at the time, stepped in to provide the encouragement she needed. “My husband believed in me. He believed in me more than I believed in myself.”

Still working full-time, Martha knew she had to find a Human Resources program online. One day, she passed a SJVC billboard that offered everything she was looking for. “I thought, ‘there it is!'” she says. It proved to be exactly what she had in mind.

Martha began the Human Resource Administration certificate program and made the necessary adjustments to student life. “A lot of people think that online classes are easy; they’re not,” she attests. “It is very detailed, and instructors expect just as much out of you as if you were going to class.”

She surprised herself by maintaining a 4.0 GPA…and then continuing the Human Resource Administration program to earn her Associate of Science degree. Martha found all the support she would ever need built into the Online division team. “The best thing about the Online program was the support I got from my advisor and instructors,” she says. “They were so helpful with anything I had issues with.”

Martha could not have anticipated the extent to which she would have to rely on every bit of support, patience and encouragement her SJVC team could provide.

In early February, she went home from work early, not feeling well. Things got worse and Curtis took her to the Emergency Room at the local hospital. Martha was having a heart attack. She talks about the subsequent month of recovery, as only a person of optimism and gratitude might.

“So far, so good,” she enthuses. “I’ve had to change my lifestyle, my diet completely with healthier eating and minimal sodium, and walk around a lot more to get a little more exercise.” She takes this new approach to life in stride. “As long as I take care of myself better than I was, everything looks good.”

The Online support team worked with Martha on assignments and timelines. “Tekla (Student Advisor) and instructors were so helpful during all that,” says Martha.

“Martha is very independent and determined to complete her coursework,” says Tekla Patton. “Nothing was going to stand in her way, even a health issue.”

She completed her studies in April, and recently stood on stage with Hanford campus graduates during a May graduation ceremony. “I never thought I’d be a college graduate,” she enthuses. “To say I’m a college graduate makes me smile every time.”

There has been an interesting, and unexpected, trickle-down effect from both Martha and Curtis’s educational accomplishments. Both Alexander and Matthew, who live in Nevada and Texas, are thinking about college.

“Neither one was big on education until they saw that I went back to school,” says Martha. “It gave them the boost they needed to say, ‘Hey, I should do that too; it might be beneficial to me.'”

Martha knows how important it is to be inspired by someone else. “My husband was amazing through this whole thing,” she acknowledges. “And, I know my sons are very proud of me.”

Martha’s entire family will benefit from reaching just a little higher.

“We already have amazing lives, as is,” she confirms. “But, with degrees, it can only get better.”

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