Veteran services representative for the Veterans Benefits Administration of the Federal Government
“Whenever I met a woman who knocked me off my feet with her insight, analysis and compassion, it always turned out she went to St. Kate’s. I wanted to be like all the amazing Katies I met over the years. When I made the decision to return to college, the choice was clear. I needed a place where I could go to school full-time, on the weekends.”
Prior to St. Kate’s, Barbara spent 10 years in the Air Force and another decade at Target and 3M — she also attended both St. Paul College and Inver Hills Community College for some time.
“However, I had a job that took over my life and, regretfully, I stopped going,” she admits. “I could kick myself. But, I was able to transfer 15 credits to St Kate’s for the liberal arts classes I’d already taken.”
“My first love is communications, but I wanted to earn a position in veteran services, and to do so, I knew I had to learn as much about social work as I could. St. Kate’s reputation for being a leader in social work — and knowing that I could pursue a minor in social welfare — convinced me of the wisdom of my choice.”
Barbara was also drawn to the rigor of St. Kate’s programs.
“That St. Kate’s has a reputation for being TOUGH attracted me,” she adds. “I believe in challenging myself and I wanted to be immersed in an environment where striving to do one’s best is emphasized.”
Barbara served on the EWO (now College for Adults) Student Advisory Board and its leadership team — and remains thankful for the experience. “I learned what students of all ages and backgrounds (and majors) were concerned about. I learned what impacted students' ability to learn. I learned what inspired them. They’re all pretty amazing. Being able to serve my community was an honor. I’m grateful my sister students believed in me.”
She was also inducted into Lambda Pi Eta, the national honor society for speech communication. “I believe that the ability to communicate is the foundation of society. How do we build cooperation? Communication. How do we make peace? Communication. Humans built civilizations by communicating with one another. Helping others tell their stories and share their contribution is what I hope to do as a communications professional.”
In 2015, Barbara received the Mary Alice Muellerleile Student Leadership Award, for demonstrating outstanding leadership and service to her peers in the evening, weekend and online programs, and for being an advocate of the strengths and development of women of all ages.
That year, too, she was also chosen by a committee of faculty, staff and students to present the 2015 Commencement speech on behalf of the graduating class.
Barbara is pursuing her Master’s of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) program at St. Kate’s, and she continues to be an active volunteer with the Women Veterans Initiative and with St Kate’s Alumnae Relations. She has also served for two years as a member of the 3-person MAOL representative team for the Graduate Student Advisory Board.
Once again, just like she did pursuing her bachelor’s, Barbara manages to balance a full load of classes with a 40-hour work week, family responsibilities, and volunteer service at several nonprofits — Wow!
“I have been inspired by every leader I have ever worked with: The good and bad. I’ve worked for people who have had very different ideas on how to motivate a team and inspire them to work together,” she replies, when asked her reason for pursuing St. Kate’s MAOL. “This program reinforces ethics and communications, and why these are integral to creating an environment where people can thrive. I am so excited to begin my original research and complete my capstone project for the MAOL program. If I don’t mess this up, I’ll graduate on May 19, 2018!”