Jennifer Stidd

Photo of Jennifer Stidd
Class of 2020
Major: Interdisciplinary Studies

Seamless Process Leads Former Walsh Student to Finish Degree Started in 1999

A chance encounter with Walsh University’s Alumni Director provided an unexpected opportunity for a former student to return and complete the undergraduate degree she started back in 1999. This April, more than 10 years from the day she started, Jennifer Stidd ’20 successfully completed the necessary courses to earn her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

“I was thinking about finishing my degree for a long time, but I just assumed that since it was so long ago, it would take me forever complete,” said Stidd. “At the very end of September 2019, I randomly met Walsh’s Alumni Director Stephanie Koontz at a local restaurant during a Browns football game. When I found out that she worked at Walsh, I told her my story and mentioned that I was thinking about finishing my degree, but it was all very casual. She gave me her business card and told me to email her. So I did.”

That chance encounter was just the beginning of what Stidd would describe as a “seamless” process to return to school. Koontz immediately put her in touch with Walsh’s Executive Director of Digital Campus Christine Lynn.

“We met and she quickly laid out what classes I needed to finish my bachelor’s degree. It ended up being only two classes,” said Stidd. “I couldn’t believe how easy it all was to re-enroll. I was kicking myself for not doing it sooner. From that first meeting at the restaurant, I truly felt like everyone I met at Walsh cared about me personally and wanted to see me succeed.”

Born and raised in Canton, Ohio, Stidd attended GlenOak High School. As a varsity soccer player, she was able to earn a scholarship to Walsh and began her studies in fall of 1999, majoring in physical education.

“It was close to home so I was able to commute. My older brother was also at Walsh playing soccer. Overall, I had an amazing experience. I played three years of soccer and made many lifelong friends who I’m still in touch with today. I really felt like all of my professors were very knowledgeable and caring.”

During her senior year, Stidd recalls struggling with two classes. But it was a burst appendix that became the reason she made the final decision to take a semester off from school. During that time, her career as a retail store manager in the wireless industry began to accelerate and she found success without her degree. It was only recently that she thought about what it might take to return to school and finish.

“I’ve been in the same role in my current company for the past 11 years and almost 20 all together in the industry. I began to feel like I needed a change,” said Stidd. “Over the years, I’ve worked hard and found myself climbing the ‘corporate ladder’ to get where I am today. It was about a year ago that I realized I wanted to try something new so I set a goal for myself to become a corporate trainer. Since then, in addition to my degree from Walsh, I have also earned my training facilitation certification.”

Like many adults, Stidd also realized that she wanted to be more challenged in her career and aspires to make an impact in her community. Earning her bachelor’s degree was just the first step in her journey to becoming a corporate trainer helping to enhance employee knowledge, skills and competencies. After graduating this April, Jennifer has some advice for others who may be thinking about returning to school to complete an unfinished degree.

“Do it now. Don’t put it off any longer. The time may never seem right but if you take it day by day you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish,” said Stidd. “I’d like to thank Stephanie Koontz, Christine Lynn, Professor Kim Schroeter, and Dr. Jean DeFazio for helping me along this journey. Their guidance and compassion made this opportunity one of the best experiences of my life. I am so proud to say I have a bachelor’s degree from Walsh University. I consider myself very blessed to have had this experience.”