Making the most of every opportunity

Kelly Radcliff enrolled at North Central State College as a single mom and a full-time employee at Ohio Mutual Insurance Group in spring 2000.

However, as life often goes, she found herself faced with challenges.  She became pregnant and dropped out. At first, she felt like she wouldn’t be able to get back to further her education, but several years later she was given an opportunity to receive her degree in two years with the help of her employer.

“When this opportunity came up, I knew immediately I wanted to continue my education,” Radcliff explains.  “At the time I had two kids, both teenagers, and believed they could handle mom taking classes. I began going to the Crawford Success Center one night a week.”

Radcliff lives in Galion and works in Bucyrus.  Having the center so close to home made it convenient for her to work, take classes, and continue spending as much time with her family as possible.  “It’s great to have the Crawford Success Center in Bucyrus.  I think more people in this community should be taking advantage of the opportunity right in our backyard,” Radcliff says. “When I started, I was a single mom with two kids, and I was working full-time.  It was nice to be able to study and take classes at the Crawford Success Center.”

“With the help from Ohio Mutual and the grants I was awarded, I was able to go to school without paying a penny out of my pocket,” Radcliff explains.  “I thought so many times why aren’t more single moms doing this?  I was lucky enough to have a great position already, but I viewed this opportunity as something I wanted to do for myself and to be able to move up in my company.”

Most of her first-year classes were held at the Crawford Success Center.  As she continued working for her degree in business management, Radcliff also took courses at the Kehoe Center in Shelby and online.  She appreciated the smaller class sizes and personal attention.

One example is when she took algebra and found herself faced with math equations she hadn’t encountered in over 20 years.  Her instructor provided her with the help she needed to finish the class successfully. “I loved the one-on-one attention I was able to get from my instructors,” she explains.

Radcliff graduated in 2017 with honors.  She obtained her associate degree in business management.  She is now married and has added to her family with another child.  “It was a busy couple of years, but it was worth it.  My final three weeks of class I got married, took my finals, then went on my honeymoon,” she says with a smile.

“I am proud of myself, and now I see my kids working hard to get good grades.  I believe my efforts were a great example for them to show how hard work does pay off.”

Radcliff says she will continue to work at Ohio Mutual and knows that with her associate degree she will be able to move up in the company she has loved being a part of for 18 years.

She suggests checking with your employer to see if they offer educational assistance.  She was surprised at the support she received and says more people should take advantage of the opportunities surrounding them.  “All you have to do is take a chance.  I have absolutely no regrets that I did!”