Monday, October 17, 2016

Student Spotlight: Deb Baldemore on Success

Deb Baldemore with Rio Salado Advisor Gidget Poler
Student Overcomes Age & Learning Barriers for Career Success
You are never too old to learn and make your life better. These are the words of Deb Baldemore, a Rio Salado College graduate who is living proof that age has no boundaries.

Baldemore had always wanted a college degree, but never felt herself to be “college material.”

“I took the traditional path my family had encouraged me to take - marriage and motherhood,” Baldemore said. “After my youngest child left home, I decided I wanted to go to college to learn more about public administration.”

After researching schools, Baldemore decided that online classes would be a good fit, so she contacted Rio Salado College and was put in touch with advisor Gidget Poler.

“When I walked into her office, Gidget made me feel welcome and comfortable with the idea of starting college at the age of 50,” Baldemore said. “She helped me all the way through my program, even after she moved on to another position.”

Baldemore enrolled in the public administration program, and excelled in her classes, earning A’s and B’s.

She left her nemesis, math class, for last.

“I enrolled in MAT102 and got the best math teacher who was always open to my many questions,” Baldemore said. “The first time I emailed him I told him I had not “algerbrated” since Ford was in office!”

With her instructor’s help and the assistance of Rio Salado’s tutoring services, Baldemore earned a C in her class and graduated with distinction with an associate in arts degree in public administration.

Baldemore continued on her educational journey, enrolling in an online bachelor’s degree program at Northern Arizona University.

She again faced her math nemesis, however, this time she was thwarted.

“I would look at the formulas and even have them explained to me and could not understand them,” she said. “I was feeling really low. I didn’t understand how I could do so well in my other classes and fail so bad in math.”

After she failed the same math class four times, Baldemore gave up any hope of earning her bachelor’s degree. Then a NAU counselor suggested she get tested for a learning disability.

“Ironically, most of my working life has been spent with teens who were at-risk or disabled, but I never thought I too could have a learning issue,” Baldemore said.

Testing indicated that Baldemore had a learning disability that affected math comprehension.

“I walked out of that office sobbing and feeling so much relief,” Baldemore said. “It wasn’t that I was not trying hard enough.”

Earning a bachelor’s degree in public administration helped Baldemore secure a position with the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) working with disabled teens to transition them out of high school into adulthood.

The learning did not stop there, however.

Baldemore’s supervisor told her about the ADE’s master’s degree partnership with Grand Canyon University. She enrolled in March 2015 and will graduate this September with a master’s in public administration.

“Because many of the people I work with at ADE also teach at community colleges, I remembered how Rio Salado had helped me,” Baldemore said. “I contacted Gidget and she not only remembered me but called me one of her star students.”

Wanting to pay it forward, Baldemore hopes to one day teach for Rio Salado College.

“I hope to be as great a role model to others as Gidget and the entire staff of Rio Salado has been for me,” she said.

By Rio Salado Communications Coordinator Mira Radovich