Achieving Your Career Goals with College, Despite the Obstacles


Piper Perry, my intern last semester,  had worked since she started cleaning Super 8 hotels at 16. A lackluster student in high school, she went to Montana State University at Bozeman to please her mother. But , like  a lot of students, she spent more time partying than studying, and she dropped out.

Over the next few years, Piper moved around, got married to her husband Kevin, and moved back to Montana where her son Trystan was born. After Trystan’s birth, Piper realized that her financial decisions were no longer just about her wants and needs. So, in 1995 she decided to return to MSU Bozeman. However, her life quickly became filled with stressors that kept her from her schooling and she dropped out again in 1998.

In 2001, Kevin was diagnosed with colon cancer. Piper helped take care of Kevin until he passed away in 2003. To support herself and her son, Piper started a cleaning business in Denver and started cleaning for friends who recommended her to their friends. Piper then built a cleaning business. When the economy took a downturn in 2008, Piper lost more than half of her clients. In addition, Piper was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. At 42, Piper went back to school for the third time, knowing that she needed to get a job using her brain rather than her back.

Piper recently graduated from Metropolitan State College of Denver with a major in journalism and a minor in history. She was able to go to school full time and attend college full time for two years. When Piper’s car broke down midway through her first year, Piper used her student ID/public transportation pass to get to jobs. She started at 4am and sometimes didn’t get home until 7 or 8pm. But, in that year and a half, she never cancelled a job over transportation, and only cancelled for illness twice. Piper’s experience has given her the confidence to start her own writing and editing business, Zippy Wizard Redaction.

Piper is a wonderful example of perseverance, resilience and intrinsic motivation.  While we explored the world of work this week, and the role college plays in employability, next week we will discuss how your attitude in school and at work can impact your overall success.


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