Prospect Magazine: Alumni Stories

I Knew It Was Time

Tina Smith ’05
Benefits Coordinator, Elmhurst College

After high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, so I decided to go to a community college and work part time. At that age I was thinking more about making money than about education, so I quit school after only a year.

I started working as a secretary at Elmhurst College in 1997. Every year in my performance review, I was encouraged to go back to school. Eventually, I got a position that required a degree—even though I didn’t have one yet. I knew it was time to earn my degree, so in 2000 I enrolled in the Elmhurst Management Program. I later enrolled in the Managerial Communications Program too, graduating with a double major in 2005.

As a single mom, going to school while working full time was sometimes overwhelming. It helped that classes met one night a week here on site, and that they didn’t start until 6:00 p.m. My daughter was old enough at the time to be encouraging. When I had homework to do, she let me get my work done.

Part of the reason I went back to school was so my daughter could say with pride, “My mother is a college graduate.” I wanted to set a good example for her, too. She’s seen how hard it is to go back to school as a single mom, so she wanted to continue her studies right after high school and do something fulfilling with her life. She finished her bachelor’s at Elmhurst, took off a year, and went back to school for a master’s in social work. She plans to finish in May 2012. Recently she asked me, “Are you going to get your master’s?”

Right now I don’t have plans for graduate study, but I would like to in the future. For now, I’m just proud to have my bachelor’s degree.

Follow Us: Flickr YouTube Instagram

Elmhurst College • 190 Prospect Avenue • Elmhurst, Illinois 60126-3296 • (630) 279-4100


Undergraduate Admission • (630) 617-3400 • (800) 697-1871 •


School for Professional Studies • (630) 617-3300 • (800) 581-4723 •


Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy Admission • (630) 617-3752 •


Technical SupportPrivacy Policy