That was Karry Plaskitt’s reaction to learning she’d been named valedictorian of Yorkville University’s Bachelor of Business Administration program.
“If you had asked me three years ago when I first started in the program, I would’ve said I’d be happy enough just to graduate,” laughed the 44-year-old Kawartha Lakes native, who now works in Windsor as a payroll manager. “I’m still really surprised by it.”
Despite an underwhelming first stab at university as a theatre student in her early 20s, Plaskitt long dreamed of going back to school to earn her degree. Her life’s path, however, oftentimes got in the way of those plans, leading her in several different directions over the years.
First came marriage, kids, and a rewarding long-time job at an emergency women’s shelter.
“Then I got divorced, and I was a single mom working at the same place I had been working for over a decade, still making the same money I had been making for over a decade, and I thought to myself, ‘There’s only one way to change this,’” she said.
“Through it all, I always regretted not going back to school. It was something I always wanted to do.”
At the encouragement of her current partner, Plaskitt said she was finally ready to take that leap – not only to advance her career but also to serve as a role model for her 17-year-old son and twin 15-year-old daughters.
“I’ve always said to my kids that post-secondary education is a must, but how could I say that if I didn’t follow those rules myself?” she said.
“But now, I’ve graduated from university – I know what it’s like, I know how much work it is, I know how rewarding it is, and I know why it’s important. Now, I’m able to say to them, ‘If you want something, you’ve gotta work hard, but you can do it.’ And that’s absolutely huge, in my opinion.”
Initially drawn to Yorkville University for the flexibility of its online course offerings, Plaskitt said she enjoyed the diversity of the Bachelor of Business Administration program – both in the content of its courses, as well as the backgrounds of her fellow classmates.
“The program teaches you all of the different aspects of business, from beginning to end. And it helped me really understand what I care about in the business world and where my strengths lie within it,” she said, noting that she especially excelled in her human resources and accounting classes.
“I also loved that, when we had group meetings, the students were from all over, and from so many different backgrounds professionally and personally..”
Plaskitt was also impressed at the ‘remarkable’ ability of Yorkville’s online staff and faculty to forge such strong connections with students in a virtual space – from her ‘amazing’ admissions advisor who made the process of enrolling such a smooth one, to the ‘phenomenal’ professors she lauded for their responsiveness, to the ‘super supportive’ staff in the financial aid office who eased her worries about tuition.
Now that she’s graduated with her degree, Plaskitt said she feels like her future goals are “wide open.”
“There’s so much I can do now. I feel like there’s so much more opportunity out there for me,” she said, noting that she’s contemplating going for either her Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) or Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designations.
“And then I had crazy thoughts about getting a Master’s degree in Psychology or in Education. These are the things that go through my mind now, and it’s kind of neat.”
As for her advice to fellow students following in her footsteps, Plaskitt offered the following words of wisdom:
“Always keep in mind your goals and why you’re there because you’re going to have to remind yourself of that a lot,” she laughed.
“Enjoy every course for what it is. Take deep breaths for the ones that are super hard, thank your professors, enjoy your fellow students because they’re going to teach you so much, and last but not least, don’t wait till Sunday to do everything because it sucks when you do that.”