Editor's Note: This profile is part of a series that features the stories of more than a dozen graduates whose outstanding journeys have culminated in a UMGC degree.
When Sonseeahray Adams graduated from an all-girls vocational high school in 1975, a traditional college education didn’t feel like an option.
“I got a part-time job working for the Veteran's Administration while in high school, which I continued after graduation,” said Adams, who goes by the first name Ray.
Always a high performing and motivated student growing up, after high school Ray earned an associate degree in secretarial science. At the time of graduation for that degree, she was five months pregnant.
After Adams left the Veteran’s Administration, she began a long career at the Howard University Department of Medicine. She thought about completing a bachelor’s degree but life as a mother, and the prospect of juggling school while she had so much else on her plate, felt too challenging. Nonetheless, Adams made a promise to herself and to her mother that one day she would go back to school.
And she made good on it.
Adams has just completed a master’s degree in healthcare administration from University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC). The achievement comes nearly a decade after the first step in her journey to keep her promise to her mother. At age of 55, Adams finally decided to continue her higher education journey with coursework to complete her Bachelor of Science in Health Services Management, also at UMGC.
Adams has held a variety of positions during her long career at Howard University. She started as a student program coordinator and since has held several administrative positions in the Department of Medicine. “Working in a health care environment motivated me to pursue health-related degrees,” she said.
It was also at Howard that she discovered the key role that a college education plays in the workplace. “My degree was critical in obtaining the support I needed to advance my career,” she said.
The decision to return to school came when Adams’s youngest daughter graduated with her bachelor’s degree and started a master’s program. Adams no longer had an excuse not to return to school, although she was worried about reacclimating to studying, prioritizing her time and everything else that comes with balancing life with school and a demanding job.
Now 65 years old and with most of her career behind her, Adams can look back with satisfaction. Her academic achievements fulfill her promise to her mother, serve as an example to her children and grandchild, and meet her own goals.
“This is something I've always wanted to do for myself, and it’s finally come to fruition,” she said.
Adams plans to keep up with developments in the health care administration field after retiring in the next three or four years. She advises others who might be considering a return to school to never give up.
“There were several times throughout my journey where I wanted to throw in the towel,” she said. “However, don't second guess it. And just give it a try.”