Alumni Spotlight: Erika White

Through Many Jobs, Erika White Achieves Her AA, BS and Moves on to Her Master’s

By Rachel Azaroff |   July 2009

Erika White , Alumnus

Erika White transformed from an average high school student to a high-achieving UMUC student with a 3.4 GPA, appearances on the Dean’s List and three honor society memberships.

She attributes much of her success to her husband’s encouragement. He was the one who insisted she go to college in the first place. Erika now has her associate’s degree (AA) and graduated in May with her bachelor’s degree. Next, she plans to begin a master’s degree program.

“I am so thankful for the strong support of my husband who has encouraged me and gave himself unselfishly as I needed his help throughout my education thus far,” she says. “Without his motivation, support and educational background, I do not think I would have proceeded and accomplished so much.”

Erika began working at the young age of 14. She helped her divorced mother pay the rent and paid her own bills, working as a waitress for Service Merchandise and for her uncle’s engineering company. She managed the multi-job workload on top of her high school education, but school was not her priority. She was a “B/C” student who never had the ambition to go beyond her high school diploma.

After high school, she worked for an airline for nine years. During her time there, the airline struggled to stay afloat and Erika faced pay cuts and layoffs. “It was very frustrating and I just knew that with a degree I could find something more stable, but I needed that degree first,” she says.

The layoffs and her husband’s prodding gave her the boost she needed to enroll in an AA program in General Studies/Liberal Arts with a major in health education at Prince George’s Community College in August 2002. She was on the Dean’s List every semester and graduated with a 3.65 GPA.

Erika was so pleased with her AA, that she began her BA in Psychology at UMUC immediately after. Now, the National Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa and Psi Beta all have her on their roster. Her next goal in her education journey is a Master of Science in Management with a concentration in Public Relations at UMUC.

On the personal front, Erika is a stay-at-home mom of two-year-old twin girls. She enjoys bowling, shopping, traveling (the most) and spending time doing fun activities with her husband and daughters.