Coding Specialist, Returning Student,
When Ronanda Kitchell was considering enrolling in college again, she read a statistic that hit home: 750,000 Hoosier adults have some college but no degree.
“It was really an inspiration to me,” Kitchell says. “I thought, ‘I’m not the only one still trying to get that degree.’”
Kitchell learned that her situation was hardly unique through the statewide You Can. Go Back. campaign, which offers state educational grants to help Indiana adults finish a college degree they started—in some cases, like Kitchell, at least a decade ago—but never finished.
With determination and the financial assistance of a You Can. Go Back. grant, Kitchell is back to class, earning an online bachelor’s degree in health informatics at WGU Indiana. She is confident that the degree will help advance her current career at Community Health Network, where Kitchell works as a certified coding specialist.
But just as important, the program will help fulfill Kitchell’s goal of finally earning a college degree.
Kitchell started her college journey at Vincennes University, where, as a young woman, she earned a general studies certificate with honors. “Achieving that honor was also a driving force to continue my education,” she says. “I knew all things were possible.”
The certificate helped her get a job as an administrative assistant, and she started a computer technology degree program at IUPUI. As a single mother raising four sons, she often found juggling work and family responsibilities difficult—and some semesters, impossible—so she advanced through the degree program slowly. Her academic advisor suggested she begin a health informatics degree, so she changed her major and earned a health information coding certificate, which allowed her to advance into that career with Community Health.
With her children grown, Kitchell decided the time was right to finish the bachelor’s degree she started a 10 years earlier.
“After all these years, I still want that bachelor’s degree. I still want to utilize my skills and passions in my career,” she says.
Working with her WGU mentor, Kitchell has been able to transfer many of the college credits she earned, plus receive additional credit for professional experience. Since the WGU degree program is online, Kitchell can do coursework at home and at her own pace—which, in her case, means working ahead to finish in just 18 months.
Kitchell speaks with her WGU mentor each Tuesday to make sure she’s on track and progressing. “It’s awesome,” she says. “She knows exactly what to say to encourage me. Giving up is not an option.”