[Clinton, N.C.] – Rhonda Baillargeon is an Associate in Business Administration student at Sampson Community College (SCC) who also participates in the College’s Work-Based Learning (WBL) program. Mother of three, Baillargeon decided to return to school at SCC in 2021 while continuing to work full-time in banking, a career she’d had for the past twenty-one years.
A graduate of Apple Valley High School in 1997, Baillargeon began attending SCC in Fall 2021. Residing in Sampson County since 1997, she mentioned her reason for enrolling stemmed from the locality of the institution, but also because her children had attended in the past as well. According to Baillargeon, they served as her greatest motivation when she decided to return to school at forty-five years old.
She explained, “Over the years, I have had many friends influence me and believe in me to go back to school, but my children were my biggest motivators. I was in the process of changing careers when they encouraged me to go back to school to get my associates. Business administration was all I knew after working in banking for 21 years. My children stood behind me 100% and help tutor me in areas that I struggled in. It has been an amazing adventure for us as a family and I am so glad I took their advice in getting my college degree.”
Planning to graduate in May 2024 with her Associates in Business Administration, Baillargeon hopes to stay in administration and management until she retires. She currently works full-time as a corporate office manager for a local gas company, while also helping her sons manage their welding business, serving as a youth leader at her local church, and raising a daughter who attends UNC Charlotte.
Baillargeon was first introduced to WBL through Donna Odum, Work Based Learning Coordinator at SCC. Over email, Odum notified her of her eligibility for the program and invited her to apply, which Baillargeon ultimately did.
“Work-Based Learning was so helpful for me in taking the time to really learn my job and related it to my degree in business administration,” Baillargeon remarked. “The teachers have been amazing and so patient with me being an older student. They have always been there to help when I needed it, as well as encouraging me to keep going. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to synch your everyday job and your education together.”
At first, Odum recalled that Baillargeon was apprehensive about joining WBL, but after completing her first course, became excited to integrate WBL into her curriculum to replace program electives with practical skills and real-world insights, earning credit hours towards her degree completion.
Odum praised, “Rhonda is a hard-working student who came to SCC while working full-time. She had just started working at her current job, and I told her that she was a perfect candidate for WBL since she was learning a new job that was related to her field of study, Business Administration. I commend her for her diligence in her academic courses and her work experience. Rhonda strives to always give everything her best effort, and this has certainly been evident in her WBL endeavors!”
The Work-Based Learning program at SCC is an innovative program that offers students a unique opportunity to gain valuable work experience while simultaneously earning college credit. Designed to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application, this hands-on learning experience empowers students to thrive in their chosen fields.
Baillargeon continued, “Once I realized that Work-Based Learning would help me with not only my job experience, but my education also, it was a no brainer. WBL helped me put my education and what I was learning now to be applicable to my everyday job.”
When asked who’d she like to thank, Baillargeon voiced that Lauren Huskey, Department Chair – Business & Accounting/Logistics at SCC, has both advised and instructed her throughout her time at the College. According to Baillargeon, Huskey has truly served as her “biggest cheerleader” and without her, she wouldn’t have found the confidence to complete her program.
Baillargeon expressed, “Mrs. Huskey has been amazing to work with. She was not only my advisor, but my teacher as well. Mrs. Huskey encouraged me to never give up, even though I thought about it a few times. She helped me chose my classes each semester to ensure I was not overwhelmed and would advise me on what was a good fit for me, being that I had been out of school for 24 years. I honestly can say that without her, I would not have had the confidence in myself to achieve my end goal of graduating.”
Overall, Baillargeon stated that she would highly recommend SCC and WBL to other prospective students looking to further their education. As an older student who returned, she felt that the College “welcomed her with open arms” and taught her the greatest lesson—that a student is never too old to go back to school.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience at SCC and would encourage anyone no matter your age to go back to school and get a degree. SCC’s staff has been more than helpful from the office workers to the teachers All three of my children and I gained great knowledge from SCC. The College encouraged me that I would succeed in my education with everything they had to offer.”
Sampson CC very proud of Rhonda and her accomplishments at the College and in WBL thus far. SCC is glad she made the decision to return to school and admires her dedication throughout. The College looks forward to seeing all she will continue to do in the business field.
For more information about Work-Based Learning at SCC or how to apply, visit www.sampsoncc.edu/wbl
About Sampson Community College: Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options and early college education. SCC is committed to the principles of equal educational and employment opportunities for all.