It’s Never too Late to Make Your Dreams Come True
MOUNT OLIVE- We’ve all heard that old saying, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.” Well, that is exactly what 26-year-old Skyler Rockafellow of Auburn, WA has done. Rockafellow grew up poor, but she has not let her circumstances dictate her future.
“I knew from an early age, if I was going to be successful, I was going to have to work hard,” she said.
With that motivation in mind, Rockafellow dug deep to simultaneously earn both her associate’s degree and her high school diploma. After graduating in 2012, she wanted to further her education at a four-year college, but her financial situation would not permit it. Instead, she worked several jobs, often assuming management responsibilities. It was during that time, that Rockafellow found her professional calling…human resources management.
“While working, I realized some of my strengths are communicating, listening, and problem solving,” she said. “Those traits, coupled with the fact that I am a ‘people person,’ gave me the foundation for a career in human resources.”
Rockafellow wanted to build on that foundation. So, in 2017, she enlisted in the U.S. Army working in HR. She took college courses as her schedule permitted. After her military contract was complete, Rockafellow and her husband moved to North Carolina. This spring, she enrolled at the University of Mount Olive (UMO) seeking her bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management (HRM).
“The biggest reason I chose UMO is the flexibility of classes,” she said. “They offer both seated and online options. Additionally, they are designated as a Military Friendly School, which is really important, because the GI Bill doesn’t always cover full tuition for private universities. The Yellow Ribbon Program really helps!”
At UMO, Rockafellow indicated that she is learning a great deal about HR, communication, and business ethics. “With smaller class sizes and more involved professors, I am able to grasp more than I ever have at any other college I’ve attended,” she said.
As part of the HRM curriculum, Rockafellow recently completed an internship with Goshen Medical Center in Fayetteville, NC. “Since I already had years of experience with administrative and receptionist jobs, the internship wasn’t so much about furthering my skills,” she said. “Rather, it gave me insight into the medical arena, so I could determine if that is where I would like to utilize my HRM degree.”
Rockafellow enjoyed the internship, and she also determined that corporate HR is more appealing to her as a future career option. “Some people find policy and procedures boring, but I thrive in it. HR keeps people engaged and brings change to employees and companies. It is essentially the backbone of an organization, because it has access to all departments and all people.”
Rockafellow is on target to graduate from UMO in August of 2021. “After graduation, I want to find a position that I can continue to grow in, eventually working my way up to an HR executive,” she said. “I’d love to work for a company that has a passion for people, both customers and employees, believes in equality, and cares about the world as much as I do.”
With a clear path to graduation and a solid goal for the future, Rockafellow is beginning to see the fruits of all of her labor pay off. She is thrilled to soon start a new chapter in her personal life as well. Rockafellow and her husband are expecting their first child in October. “Knowing I am going to be a mom has only pushed me that much harder to complete my degree,” she said. “I want to show my daughter that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.”
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.