Women2Women - Spring 2017 - 33

Work2Life

BACK TO SCHOOL

with Women2Women and Alvernia University
By Angela Cremer, Albright College

M

aria Reyes has been a bilingual legal
assistant at Reading-based Kitay Law
Office since November 2015. Her recent
one-year anniversary with the firm was
particularly significant to Reyes, who since
starting her job with the law office also began
working toward a bachelor's degree at Alvernia
University as part of the partnership program
the University shares with Women2Women.

with the organization that they convinced the
University to become a Platinum Sponsor.
The partnership was further developed in
2015, and more than half a dozen women
have taken advantage of the opportunity
to attend the University at reduced tuition
costs. It is hoped that many more women
will explore the possibilities and begin or
return to college.

Reyes earned an associate's degree in 2001,
and had always planned to return to college
to complete a bachelor's degree. Until last
fall, however, it seemed like that dream might
be unattainable.

point regarding the number of incumbent
workers with unfinished degrees.

In addition to receiving reduced tuition as a
W2W member, women who take advantage of
this program also gain access to various professional development events via the University's
Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, access
to an extensive network of professionals within
the community, and assistance in applying to
and enrolling at Alvernia.

This clear need for higher education for
women initiated a conversation between
Marsdale and Daria LaTorre, Dean of the
School of Graduate and Adult Education at
Alvernia, who discussed what they might do
to improve a woman's chances of starting,
or returning to college.

"The program is so great because it is so
flexible," Marsdale said. "Alvernia staff works
with each student to help them fit classes
into their busy work schedules. From my
perspective, Alvernia has almost customized
each student's experience in order to make
it doable."

The inspiration to advance her career
by returning to school struck Reyes when
Perla Vinasco, chief operations manager at
Kitay Law Office, invited her to attend an
immigration seminar in New Orleans. Reyes
found the trip far more rewarding than she had
imagined, and, when it was finished, Vinasco
asked her if she would ever consider going
back to school. Reyes didn't have to think
about the question for very long.
"My immediate reply was 'yes'," said Reyes,
with a smile.
Her inability to stop thinking about this
dream, combined with Vinasco's willingness to
help, led Reyes to Alvernia, where she visited
online and consulted with her advisor, Lori
Korch. Reyes was able to access a preferred
tuition rate through the W2W/Alvernia
partnership, making her dream of continuing
her education more affordable and attainable.
The objective of the W2W/Alvernia
partnership is to help grow women leaders
in Berks County, explained Karen Marsdale,
President of the Greater Reading Chamber
of Commerce & Industry. Marsdale recalled
attending a national conference at which
workforce development was discussed. It
was there that she discovered a startling data

Maria Reyes

The program is so great because it is so flexible. Alvernia
staff works with each student to help them fit classes
into their busy work schedules."
- Karen Marsdale

At the time, Marsdale recalled, the Greater
Reading Chamber was focusing more on the
K-12 education arena, with less attention
given to the large segment of women who
had some college experience, but no degree.
"It became clear that we needed more people
with at least a four-year degree," Marsdale said.
In 2014, LaTorre and Mary Ellen Wells,
Professor of Business at Alvernia, spoke at a
W2W event. The women were so impressed

The university has a deeply rooted history
of serving non-traditional adult learners by
helping them become ethical leaders. As a
result, the partnership allows transfer credits
and time in the workplace to be considered
as credit toward a degree. Alvernia offers
degree and non-degree certificate programs
in a format that is conducive to the busy
Continued on page 35
berkswomen2women.com 33


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Women2Women - Spring 2017

Women2Women - Spring 2017 - 1
Women2Women - Spring 2017 - 2
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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Women2Women/Women2WomenSummer2020
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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Women2Women/women2women_winter2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Women2Women/women2women_fall2017
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