In many ways, Mindy Barham was WGU’s perfect potential student: a 40-year-old stay-at-home mother of three who had attended college but, for various reasons, was not able to complete her degree. She had a wealth of knowledge and experience in administrative and project management roles, but because she could not check “yes” in the box next to “Do you have a bachelor’s degree?”, she struggled to move forward in her career.
Then, Barham discovered WGU.
“My kids were getting older and I was looking for something to do, and I’d been out of the workforce for a while,” Barham said. “I went to work for WGU, and over time, I saw how lives were being changed. That was very inspirational to me.”
While serving as Administrative Assistant to WGU’s Vice Presidents of Academic Engagement and External Affairs, Barham decided to restart her educational journey.
“I wanted to be able to support myself and my kids on my own, and I knew I needed that degree in order to do that,” Barham said. “I wanted to show to my kids, my family, and other people my age that you can go out and get this degree. It’s not too late.”
“I wanted to show to my kids, my family, and other people my age that you can go out and get this degree. It’s not too late.” – Mindy Barham, WGU Graduate
Pursuing a degree while working full-time and raising three children is a daunting task, but with WGU’s competency-based, online learning model, Barham could complete her courses when it worked within her busy schedule. And throughout the entire process, Barham had support–both personal and financial–from her team at WGU.
“It’s just been a fabulous experience for all of us to see not only the growth, but the tenacity that she brings to her day-to-day work be a part of her educational journey,” said Chris Bonnell, Vice President of External Affairs.
Furthering our employees’ education positively impacts their personal growth while also furthering the mission of WGU. That’s why WGU offers reduced-cost tuition for employees–allowing our teammates like Barham to advance their education without depleting their hard-earned income.
WGU offers reduced-cost tuition for employees–allowing our teammates like Barham to advance their education without depleting their hard-earned income.
After just one year of coursework, Mindy graduated from Western Governors University in 2021 with a B.S. in Business Administration – Marketing. She participated in a commencement ceremony in Seattle, Washington, with both her family and her WGU teammates cheering her on.
“It made me realize that she’s like a more hardworking and diligent person,” said Barham’s son, PJ. “She’s like a role model.”
Degree in hand, Barham has been able to advance in her career here at WGU. She now serves as the Government Relations Manager, leading our grassroots engagement program and digital advocacy efforts in all 50 states. Having recently completed a degree in marketing, she’s well-versed in new digital techniques that did not exist when she first attended college.
“My team now considers me the expert in advocacy and they come to me for those kinds of questions and running those kinds of programs,” she said.
But even more important than the professional advancement has been the personal growth that Barham has experienced in her quest to complete her degree.
“For 20 something years, I’ve had to say no. Now I can finally say yes.” – Mindy Barham
“For 20 something years, I’ve had to say no. Now I can finally say yes,” Barham said. “I can check the box that says, ‘Do you have a bachelor’s degree?’ I can say yes. It’s so exciting.”