Kathryn Bunn has always been ambitious. A serious student in high school, Bunn expected to excel in college, alongside her high-achieving peers, yet found that she was lacking the maturity necessary to succeed. After a difficult two years at the University of Florida, Bunn reluctantly decided to withdraw from school.
Like many young people, Bunn had proceeded directly from high school to college, without a clear academic plan in mind. “(It was) tough,” says Bunn of her initial college experience, “as all of my peers from prep school were high achievers.” Knowing that she wanted to help people, but unsure of which career she hoped to pursue, Bunn abandoned her studies and entered the workforce, accepting a support role in the financial sector.
Once employed in the business world, Bunn found that her desire to help people was fulfilled through working with clients. As a banker, she helped businesses owners grow and add value to their businesses and, with experience, earned several promotions within the company. Despite this personal gratification and professional success, Bunn remained disheartened at not having finished college, and she wanted to complete her Bachelor’s degree. “I knew that I wanted to keep moving within my organization,” explains Bunn. “I knew having that notch on my belt would help me professionally.”
As she was working at the Bank of America nearby, Bunn investigated the possibilities at the College of Charleston, and was directed to Carla Stewart in the School of Professional Studies. Knowing that she would be leaving Charleston soon, Bunn wanted to complete her degree as soon as possible; she found the Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) program to be a perfect fit.
Selecting the Organizational Leadership and Management concentration, Bunn tiered her courses using the express format, taking 7 classes per semester while working full-time. Still the same serious student she had been in high school, Bunn was determined to graduate at the top of her class, and so put her maximum effort into her studies. “It was a stressful time,” she admits, “but I wanted to get straight A’s”
While she had taken on a lot, Bunn was more focused than she had been during her initial college experience. Not only was there a reduced emphasis on the social aspects of college, but Bunn now knew exactly how to maximize her academic opportunities: “Having worked at Bank of America for 8 years, it helped me figure out what I want to learn, and what will be more effective for me; what will be most beneficial for my work.”
Bunn’s dedication and sacrifices were rewarded, and she achieved her goal of graduating summa cum laude. However, when reflecting on the experience of earning her degree, the rewards of lasting relationships formed with professors and classmates far outweighed the academic achievements. “I don’t think that I would have learned as much, or thought as critically about case studies, if I didn’t have support (from my peers),” Bunn notes. “I really enjoyed my cohort group.”
Post-degree, Kathryn Bunn remains ambitious, and still enjoys helping clients. She currently holds an executive position at Bank of America, as an Assistant Vice President and Relationship Manager. “Relationship managers help with client needs… acting as a liaison between the company and the bank,” Bunn explains. “I spend time studying financials, (figuring out) what a company might need financially.” To this end, Bunn wishes that she had taken more accounting and finance courses, but notes that she still regularly refers back to Michael Porter’s 5 Forces – a concept she learned in the BPS program.
Bunn has considered MBA programs, but is well positioned in her organization, and does not need the traditional framework to fulfill her five-year plan. However, Bunn is quick to recognize that while much of her success is self-made, there is still great value in earning a degree. “It gives me credentials when talking to clients.”
The School of Professional Studies offers several undergraduate programs, including the Bachelor of Professional Studies degree completion program. All of our programs are designed with the working professional in mind.
For more information, visit our website, or contact the School of Professional Studies at 843.953.6684.