OLL - Student of the Month (Archive)

Althea Jackson

Kimberly Thompson Hello my name is Kimberly Thompson, and I will be graduating from the University of Louisville in spring 2016 with a bachelor's degree in Organizational Leadership and Learning, in the training and development track. What brought me back to higher education after a 20-year absence was dissatisfaction in the work-place. After spending a majority of my adult working life in front-line management, I decided that what I really wanted to do was teach. Making the decision to go back to school was not an easy one. I understood the financial commitment and the overall burden that school would place on my family. I spent about a year pondering over whether or not the sacrifice of time and money would be a positive or negative one on my family. During the decision process my dissatisfaction at my job kept growing until it was obvious that a change was inevitable for me. My spouse and I had to do a lot to prepare for the financial burden that school would place on our family. We made a commitment to control our spending, and we reassessed what was important to us in life. We opted to drive used cars and cut cable television for example to make my dreams a reality. With a little sacrifice and commitment, I am proud to say we’ve made it almost two years, and I will be graduating this spring.

After graduation I plan to enter the University of Louisville's graduate MAT program. Upon successful completion of my undergraduate degree, passing scores on the Praxis Core exams, and application, I plan to enroll in the program spring 2017. My desire is to teach special-education K-12 (severe-moderate disabilities) hopefully in transition education services (service provided to students age 18-21). I would like to use what I’ve learned about human resource management practice and accommodation laws, and my previous business experience, with helping young-adults obtain life-skills and employment training through vocational rehabilitation and community based instruction, while completing high school. For the first time in our history people with disabilities are living farther into adulthood due to better medical treatment, and changes in inclusion and accommodation laws are allowing more and more adults with disabilities to live and work amongst us in society. I want to be part of the group of pioneers advocating on behalf of this inclusion.

My best advice to any adult student thinking about enrolling at the University of Louisville is to really gather the support of your friends, family, and co-workers before taking the leap. Once you are enrolled take advantage of the services that are offered to students, services like REACH and the writing center. For adults who feel like maybe there was an undiagnosed learning disability during their earlier years in school, the campus disability resource center can help make accommodations to help make college a success. My experience is that the instructors in the OLL program champion student success and are willing to work graciously to accommodate every type of learner.

I personally believe the presence of adult learners in higher education hopefully sends a message to the entire student population that you are never too old to learn, decisions from the past can be altered, and that there are alternative routes to higher education.

Althea Jackson

Althea Jackson I have been employed by the City of Louisville for 26 years, starting as an administrative assistant in Metro Parks. In 2003, I was asked to join the Office of the Mayor’s staff as an administrator – a role that allowed me to meet and interact with new people -- visitors from other countries, donors, department directors and citizen leaders. I was representing the Mayor on various boards. My level of responsibility had expanded. I was in a good place.

However, I always felt something was missing – my undergraduate degree. And that feeling was heightened when a new mayoral administration took over in 2011, and my job future was uncertain.

Though I was retained by Mayor Greg Fischer, the uncertainty I experienced – because I didn’t have a degree to fall back on -- made me take a hard look at what I wanted and needed in my future.

My pastor, Dr. Kevin Cosby, had long encouraged – no, make that insisted – that I, as a member of St. Stephens Church, make higher education a priority. So, after much prayer, and talking with friends who had returned to school and my very supportive supervisor, I made the decision to go back to college.

The prospect of returning to school after 28 years, at age 45, was scary. I knew it was not going to be easy to head to class at the end of a busy work day, and to devote my weekends to my studies. And while Louisville Metro offers a tuition reimbursement program, it doesn’t cover all the costs.

But I was – and am -- determined to get a degree.

I spent two years at JCTC taking prerequisites for the Organizational Leadership and Learning program. Now I am at U of L, committed to graduating in May 2017.

Initially, my focus for all this was job security and career advancement. And my studies have made me a smarter, more talented employee. But I realized recently that my focus on graduating now is less about my career and more about setting an ambitious goal and achieving that goal – and showing others that it can be done.

I have had the privilege to serve as a volunteer at Phyllis Wheatley Elementary School, where I interact with children who may also, someday, face struggles in finishing their education. I hope to be an example of why they should stick with it – and what you can do when you put your mind to it.


Jim Lepianka

Jim Lepianka The Organizational Leadership and Learning is proud to introduce our first student of the month, Jim Lepianka. Jim originally started college in the early 80's. At that time he lost a grandmother and had family troubles.

It was at this time in his life that he decided to join the Army. Jim was in the Army for 10 years and served in three combat tours.

After serving his country, he began looking for a career which led to computer consulting. Microsoft was new at the time so certifications were a big draw for employers. After advancing in the field, Jim realized he needed to finish his degree to advance farther. The attainment of his bachelor’s degree is important to Jim and his employer.

Currently Jim is working up to fifty hours a week at work, is taking two classes a semester, and stays busy with his wife and two sons.

In addition to family and work, Jim has a small farm raising sheep for wool. His life stays busy and he has found the time to balance a busy life.

Life is filled with obstacles. Jim has been resilient and learned that sometimes all you can do to overcome your obstacles is to stumble over them often enough that you get good at seeing them before they affect you.

Experience and training has prepared him for the role he is in and made him into the leader his employer and his team values. When asked what Jim values most from the OLL program he stated “Every day I learn something new in classes and directly apply them in my life the next day.”

Looking forward after graduation, Jim plans to continue his education by completing his Master’s degree. After teaching himself study skills and time management while taking classes again, he has decided to keep the momentum going! Jim says that OLL has helped him to become a better communicator and given him tools to better himself and his life.