Education is a driving force behind the future success of a city, and for dozens of colleges and universities, Philadelphia is a true hub of learning. At Peirce College, one of the city’s oldest institutions of higher education, degree completion has become a family tradition.
Students of all ages turn to the unique environment at the College that serves the needs of nontraditional students. And on June 13, Philadelphia residents Clarice James and her son Keith Carney crossed the stage at the Kimmel Center to receive their diplomas.
For Clarice, returning to Peirce to complete her bachelor’s degree in business administration was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Peirce is now twice her alma mater; she graduated in 1983 with an associate’s degree.
“I had very good memories of the College and what it can do, and getting my bachelor’s was something I always wanted to do for myself,” said Clarice, who works for the City of Philadelphia. She knew a degree would further her career opportunities and make her more employable.
Once she began her own studies, Clarice was determined to convince her son Keith, who had served in the U.S. Navy, to go back to school. After hearing positive things about Peirce from his mother and two close friends who are also Peirce graduates, Keith took the leap.
Keith graduated with an associate’s degree in business administration. Keith played safety for the Philadelphia Steelers in the semi-pro IFL League while studying to earn his degree.
“When I graduated from high school I went into the Navy and got to see half the world,” says Keith. “I later realized for personal and professional reasons that I wanted to be an accountant, which prompted me to go to college.”
Part of what drew Keith to Peirce was the College’s focus on providing working adult learners the resources and support they need to earn degrees, go further in their careers, and make better futures for themselves and their families.
Keith credits Peirce’s friendly environment for making his experience so memorable. The small class sizes and personal attention create a family-oriented atmosphere, especially for this mother-son duo! Both Clarice and Keith view earning their degree as a great accomplishment and a source of pride for themselves and their family. “It feels so wonderful, so exciting,” says Clarice. “And even more so because my son is doing it.”
Keith adds, “Getting my degree is a professional stepping stone that gives me an opportunity to get into the field that I want. A degree is very important – companies want employees with degrees.”
Keith plans to focus on accounting when he takes the next step toward his bachelor’s degree, and Clarice hopes to use her education as a springboard for taking on more leadership and management roles in the business world. She’s thinking about a master’s degree as well.
“Getting my bachelor’s degree has helped me to grow, personally and professionally,” says Clarice. “It was a very good step to take, and I encourage others to do the same.”
By Rita Toliver-Roberts