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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Human Resource Administration grad tackles college in her thirties

October 15, 2015
HRA certificate program grad, Ironda, knew she could not wait another year to get her degree.

Ironda Robinson understands that you can start out with a solid plan to complete college, but that life can sometimes hijack those good intentions in ways you cannot fight. Ironda’s mother’s illness changed her priorities – and her college track.

Ironda managed to get in a year of college before her mom, Annie, began to falter due to her illness.  After losing Annie, Ironda stayed in the work force and found herself in a management position at a large call center in Texas. She loved her work, but knew she wanted to be in a field that would allow her to help others directly. Human Resources (HR) is the field she chose to provide that connection.

“Giving people knowledge, helping people – HR was one of the bigger fields that I knew I could actually do and be successful in something like that,” says Ironda.

It all bubbled up when Ironda and her licensed personal trainer husband, Adonis, decided to put a 5-year plan together. “One of the first things on that list was to get my degree,” says Ironda. “It could be 30-years later (or, 15 years in her case), but I wanted to get into it and finish it.”

To continue working full-time, Ironda knew she needed to go with online education. She tried an online semester with a different college. “Too much independence, not enough connection with teachers,” she says. She found SJVC’s Online HRA certificate program that provided more of the classroom setting she needed.

“It was one of the best choices I’ve ever made,” says Ironda. “That connection point is what was most important to me. Doing this online, you kind of get lost sometimes. But that constant contact and advisors checking in on you, making sure you’re doing ok; that motivates you to want to do better.”

And, Ironda did do well. She planned her study time, kept up with work and home responsibilities, and was still a constant on the Dean’s List. “Every time I was on the Dean’s List, I got a congratulations letter. I saved all of those.”

When she got that first letter, Ironda called her dad, Nathaniel, who had earned a degree in Human Services online a couple of years earlier. He knew the effort it took to earn those grades.

When Ironda finally got her HRA certificate, pin, the gold honors rope and tassel in the mail, the reality of her accomplishment set in. “That I had completed something, was the most important thing to me.”

“Ironda was a very determined student who pushed herself hard to get good grades during her program,” says Tekla Patton, Student Advisor.

Although Ironda graduated from the HRA certificate program in August, she has no intention of stopping now. “I’m looking for what I’m going to do next,” she says. “And I’m always up for new challenges.” Her very next challenge is….more education.

Ironda is continuing with SJVC’s HRA associate degree program online. Adonis – yes, Ironda calls him her ‘Greek god’ – is completely supportive of her education goals. “We’ve talked about having our own (fitness) business,” says Ironda. “But that’s a few years away.”

Right now Ironda is relishing her moment of success after months of sacrifice, and enjoying the inspiration she is providing for others. “My co-workers were like, ‘I’m going to start school too’ and ‘you really motivated me to go back when I had my baby.’”

Change is hard, especially when you are fairly well settled at work and home.

But Ironda’s mom left a lasting impression on her that would not let her do or be less than what she knew would bring her the most happiness – no matter how long it took to get there.

“Seeing her and the impact she had on others that came to her funeral, you know that she was living the last part of her life in a way that helps somebody, and doing service,” says Ironda. “It is a legacy of how to live your life, and I really want to model that.”

Ironda was paying close attention. “She was a person who stayed the course. You may have a zig zag off the road, but stay with what you want to do.”

She has another source of help when she needs that ‘extra push’. “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me. That’s what I live by; it is through Him that we can do everything we do.”

Ironda is ready; always ready.

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