While she may not be able to leap over tall buildings, there’s not much else that can get in Breanna Hardemon’s way.
Hardemon decided she was ready to earn a bachelor’s degree and graduated in May 2020 from Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s B.S in Liberal and Applied Studies online program.
“It was great. I truly loved the program. I doubled up on all my courses to get done as quickly as possible,” she said, having made the honor roll. “I got As and Bs the whole time, so I was pretty excited.”
Hardemon chose to attend Southeastern for several reasons, and she especially liked knowing the Durant campus was just a two-hour drive away, even though her courses were online. The accessibility of her instructors and advisor made her experience smooth.
“The pricing was a lot better than [that of] any other school I was considering, and the application process was simple,” she said. “When I realized how flexible and seamless it would be to work with Southeastern, I knew I had found the right school.”
Hero at Home
Hardemon has been able to keep working full time while going to school and raising her 4-year-old son, Kelton.
“I knew I needed an online education, so I could work and take care of my little one,” she said. “Childcare isn’t something easy to come by here because we live in a small town. Most daycares close at 5:30 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. at the latest, so I couldn’t really go to night class. I just decided to find an online program that I could do from home.”
After years of working in a management position for a cell phone company, Hardemon knew a bachelor’s degree would afford her the opportunity to move up.
“I reached the position of regional manager and that’s where I started wanting to go back and get my degree. I knew I wanted to do something more. I could definitely see myself being a CEO or holding another job in the C-suite,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what career I wanted to pursue, so the Liberal and Applied Studies degree at Southeastern seemed like a good place to start.”
Not surprisingly, some of the management courses in the program were her favorites. She also took an early childhood education course and loved it.
“Management is really my thing,” she said. “Having worked in management for a decade, I already knew my passion was leading and helping people grow. I suddenly realized, ‘Well, teaching is kind of like that.'”
Hardemon’s friends and family were supportive of her continuing education but understandably wondered how she would manage bachelor’s degree coursework while working and raising her son. She did, however, and attended a virtual graduation ceremony to celebrate her achievement.
Climbing New Frontiers
Degree in hand, Hardemon landed a position as an emergency-certified teacher. After a few months on the job, she knew she had found her niche. She decided to continue her studies at Southeastern in the Master of Education in Educational Leadership with a dual emphasis in Principal and Superintendent Certification online program.
“Working in Oklahoma, I don’t have to have a master’s for teaching here, but it’s something I wanted to pursue on my own for future job growth,” she said. “One day, I’m going to want to combine my management experience with my love of working with kids.”
Hardemon will be a fully licensed teacher through an alternative certification program this year. She will also be officially certified after just one year teaching fifth grade.
“It all worked out. I love kids and have a passion for helping people. When I was in management, there were a lot of evenings I had to work and had to try to find a babysitter,” she said. “Teaching gives me a better schedule and makes me feel like I’m making a difference for these kids especially the ones with a tough home life. God led me to this path for a reason.”
Hardemon credits Southeastern for helping her define her ultimate career goal of becoming a superintendent. She plans to find a position as a principal after she completes her master’s degree, with her eye on a superintendent role within the next five years.
“The B.S. degree definitely opened new opportunities and a whole new career path for me,” she said.
In her free time, Hardemon enjoys the great outdoors with her husband and son — hunting, riding ATVs and spending time together as a family. Her advice to others who want to further their education is to stop thinking about it and commit.
“Time is passing whether you are getting started in school or not,” she said. “Just do it. Don’t waste the time worrying. Why not try something new and see what happens?
“My biggest takeaway from my college experience would be that it really doesn’t matter where you are in your life and what you have going on. If you really want to do something and get it accomplished, you can.”
Learn more about Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s B.S. in Liberal and Applied Studies online program and M.Ed. in Educational Leadership with a dual emphasis in Principal and Superintendent Certification online program.