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Pittsfield Business Owner Earns ‘Dream’ Degree

12/14/16

The holidays are particularly sweet this year for Susan Robert ’16. She just accomplished her dream of becoming a college graduate.

Already the successful business owner of the KidZone Child Care Educational Center Inc., along with its transportation division, in Pittsfield, Mass., she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies for early childhood educators in just over two years through MCLA’s degree completion program.

Robert previously attended the College years ago. As a young, working mother of two with a fulltime job, she took classes when she could. Now a grandmother, she learned of the opportunity to finish her degree with a cohort – a group of students who go through their program together. Together, they went through the accelerated program, step by step.  

At first Robert was unsure if she was ready to plunge back into college. But after observing a co-worker’s experience with MCLA’s first cohort of adult learners, “I kicked myself a little bit, thinking, ‘I should have done it,’” she said. “I knew I needed to get into the second cohort.”

In addition to the first KidZone employee, two additional employees recently began the same degree completion program for early childhood educators. “It empowers them,” Robert said. “They’ll bring additional knowledge to our program, the parents, and their co-workers, and they’ll share new ideas in their classrooms.”

Robert and the 19 other students in her cohort are excited to graduate.

“We made it. We’ve been a huge support for one another. When some were down and out and didn’t think they could do it, we were there for each other, saying, ‘What do you need? How can we help?’ We got everybody through it.”

Because a number of her classmates also work in child care, Robert knew many of them before she entered the program. Her business, KidZone, opened in September 2000. Robert is licensed to take for 177 children, aged 6 weeks to 14 years. The transportation aspect of the company includes a fleet of school buses.

“A lot of the classes were geared toward the early education field. There was a wealth of information that I could bring back to my staff – not only from my teachers but from my classmates,” she said. “We could talk about issues and policies at our centers because we’re all in the same boat. We understand what we all go through.”

Robert recently attended a reception at MCLA, which was held to celebrate those who completed their degrees this semester. “It was just wonderful,” she said.

She looks forward with great anticipation to this spring’s Commencement exercises, and walking across the stage to receive her diploma. One granddaughter is particularly determined and excited to attend this event.

“My grandchildren saw me going to college, and would ask why. I told them, ‘Because I want to get my degree.’ It also showed them that you’re never too old,” she said. “MCLA made it possible.”