Erica Obeng and Sylvia Vankpana are quite a dynamic duo. Erica, an instructor at Woods’ Holland Enrichment Center, and Sylvia, a housekeeper at Woods’ Redwood residence, made history on May 11th as the first Woods employees to graduate from the Harcum program with associate’s degrees. For Erica, the opportunity to go back to school through Woods’ partnership with Harcum helped her to fulfill a lifelong dream.
“I started college before when I lived in Virginia and then I went back once through the University of Phoenix in 2009, but it was just too much at the time,” she said. “When I heard about the Harcum program I thought ‘this is my opportunity to take the bull by the horns’.”
And that she did. With the help of Valerie Durden, Enhanced Benefits Specialist at Woods, Erica and several others (26 to be exact) completed the necessary paperwork and embarked on a new journey together. One of the many benefits of the Harcum partnership is that all of the classes take place at Woods and flexibility is offered around work shifts.
“It worked out well for because I worked at Holland (Enrichment Center) from 9 am-4 pm and then I had a short break before I had classes (at Woods) from 5:30 to 9:30 on Monday and Wednesday evenings,” said Erica. “I’m a workaholic and I just knew that I would be able to handle working and going to school at the same time. I also got my whole family involved. My husband, Samuel, who also works at Woods, and my 16-year-old daughter helped me improve my typing.”
Aside from convenience, the Harcum program and Woods’ additional partnerships with Capella University (offering bachelor’s degrees) and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (offering master’s degrees) offer a tuition discount, tuition assistance benefit, and guidance with paperwork and requirements.
“Woods is committed to supporting their employees’ professional development and encouraging higher education, and Erica and Sylvia are a testament to that!” said Valerie. “This achievement has also given Erica and Sylvia the confidence and ability to go even further in their education. We will continue to offer our support as these ladies embark on the next steps towards earning their bachelor’s degree. Erica and Sylvia are winning with the support of Woods, and when our employees win, we win as an organization.”
For Erica, the sky is the limit as she continues her education in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree and beyond!
“This was a very personal thing for me. I knew I could make it work and accomplish this and now I am moving on to work towards my bachelor’s degree and am hoping it will help me move up at Woods,” said Erica. “I also dream of one day getting a master’s degree and doctorate degree in Abnormal Psychology.”