Almost three decades ago, Deborah Ludwig began working on her master’s degree. When life began moving her in a different direction, Deborah had to set aside her dream. With success and loss all in between, Deborah’s path to an MBA helped prove to herself that she could overcome even the most difficult circumstances and complete her degree.
“I’ve always been a helper and had empathy toward those struggling. It was a natural progression for me,” she said. I was led toward the health care profession when I volunteered as a candy striper at a local rehab center and was assigned to the physical therapy department.”
Looking to support her goal of moving into a management position in the field of physical therapy, Deborah began working on her MBA.
“I got three classes in and the circumstances in my life headed in a different direction as I became a mom,” she said. “Several years later, I started again after having lost all my initial credits due to a move out of state. I again got three classes in and had to stop because of a relocation and circumstances preventing me from re-enrolling in another school.”
“Getting a degree is challenging enough when you are young, but is even more so when you are older, working full-time and raising a family.”
With 10 years having gone by, Deborah decided to pursue a clinical doctorate in her field to support a promotion she received.
“After completing my doctorate in physical therapy, I figured at that time I was done with school,” she said. “However, I am not one who does not like to finish what I have started. With the support of my now adult son and husband, I enrolled for a third try at completing my MBA.”
“Having just started my first class, COVID hit, making it very difficult to keep up with schoolwork and the demands of day-to-day management in health care during the pandemic.”
As she settled back into her school routine, Deborah faced the biggest obstacle yet of her MBA journey.
“I started working on classes and was dealt the horrible loss of my father and then, seven weeks later, my stepson,” she said. “Losing my dad was not unexpected, as he was ill for some time, but it still impacts your ability to focus. When my stepson River passed unexpectedly and tragically at the age of 24, I struggled to find the resilience and strength to continue. A parent is never prepared to lose a child, it is an unnatural event as to how humanity processes time and the natural order of life. I had to disconnect and put my MBA on hold again.”
It was here that Deborah drew upon her personal losses to find the strength to persevere for those who wanted this for her just as much as she did.
“It took almost a year for me to find the courage and desire to continue,” she said. “Knowing how much my father valued education and the fact that my stepson passed away three classes shy of his undergraduate degree in business, helped me to find the strength to finish the remaining five classes.”
Deborah finished her MBA 28 years later with Columbia Southern University and walked across the stage at commencement in October of 2023 to receive her diploma.
“I flew in from Philadelphia to walk the stage,” she said. “I know it is symbolic at this point, as I already have my diploma, but it took me 28 years and getting knocked off course multiple times to get here.”
Deborah currently works as the regional director of clinical operations for the largest home care agency in the Philadelphia region and continues to encourage everyone to never give up on what you really want to achieve.
“Life events can really derail best intentions,” she said. “For me, my faith was the foundation of where I found my strength to fight off the deterrents that life continued to put in my path. Find meaning and purpose behind what initially brought you to school. Know your value and worth and have faith and belief in your ability.”
“As Robert Frost wrote in his poem ‘The Road Not Taken,’ ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.’ We all pick our roads in life based upon decisions we make. My decisions led me down a more difficult road, but the perseverance through those challenges proved to me that I am capable of accomplishing great things, even at a later time in my life, and that has made all the difference.”
This testimonial may not reflect the typical or ordinary experience of CSU students.
Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography and degree field, affect career outcomes. CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.