Campus Student Feature: Bethany & Sylvia Sullivan

Campus Student Feature: Bethany & Sylvia Sullivan
Recruiting students from across the U.S., Campus is the new alternative to online community college. We’re on a mission to maximize access to a world-class education to set students up for success no matter what their next step is. Read on to learn about our students’ unique experiences.

Meet Sylvia and Bethany Sullivan, a mother and daughter originally from the Bronx who decided to invest in their online learning as the first step towards a better future, together. The Sullivans enrolled in the Campus online associate degree in business program in the summer of 2022.

Since then, the extraordinary mother-daughter duo has made great strides to take what they learn and apply it to their own higher callings. With ambitions to help improve the fields of veterinary medicine and early childhood education, the two of them inspire each other and their peers to explore their passions throughout the program.

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Scholars from the Beginning

For the Sullivans, the value of education has always been a big part of their lives. As Bethany’s mother, Sylvia mentions, “In high school, I graduated early. I graduated at 16 years old so I've always been an academic. I came from a home very passionate about education.”

Her great academic achievement in high school earned her a merit scholarship that would go toward her college journey.

However, instead of attending college after graduating, Sylvia decided to focus on work and developing her professional skills.

“I wanted to build myself in the professional field, and I had great opportunities,” Sylvia shared. “But when you have a feeling in you that you're meant for something and you don't pursue it and you don't achieve it, you kind of feel void.”

Once again inspired to tackle the educational goals she had set for herself, Sylvia went on to pursue higher education, but soon found a greater calling that would put her academic journey on pause.

“I actually did go to college, and that was right before I had my oldest daughter, Bethany,“ Sylvia said. "I became a mom, and that's when I became more grounded in education, the importance of education, and the importance of achieving goals. I wanted to see it in my daughters, so I instilled in them the importance of [education] and that need to not take it lightly."

Though her college education took a backseat for some time, Sylvia’s love for her children and learning naturally led her to pursue early childhood care and education.

“I'm big on education and teaching the youth,” Sylvia told Campus. “I found myself working in school areas so that the academics that I was pursuing was building into me within the professional field of learning to teach younger children.”

Like Mother, Like Daughter

As education played a significant role in Sylvia's professional development, its profound impact also extended to her daughters, shaping their own paths and aspirations.

For Bethany, her educational journey was also very unique.

“I ended up transferring to an online high school,” Bethany shared. “I embarked on the mission of learning from home, but throughout high school I overlooked it. I didn't understand the concept of taking the ability to be at home and using that to my advantage to learn what's being taught at school. Being at home lets me use that knowledge in real life without the interference of unnecessary things that you get involved with while you're in school.”

Once Bethany graduated from high school in 2021, she started to consider what options she had for college. She quickly decided that she liked the idea of continuing on to higher education in an online space, too.

Sylvia and Bethany Sullivan in the Campus student interview
Sylvia Sullivan (left) and Bethany Sullivan (right) laughing during the Campus interview.

From TikTok to Campus

During the search for an online college program that fit Bethany’s needs, she was introduced to the Campus online associate degree in business program on TikTok.

“I've always had a dream to open up my own vet clinic, so I knew I'd have to take business eventually,” Bethany said. “And when doing more research about Campus, I got to see that not only was it the business degree that I needed, but it offered me a lot of opportunities, which are commonly overlooked in online learning.”

As Bethany began her college search, Sylvia also thought about the idea of getting back into school and taking the unique opportunity to share that journey with her daughter.

“When Bethany got the privilege of looking into higher education for herself, I became really interested. Silently, I started thinking and kind of playing it out in my head,” Sylvia said pensively. “And my two daughters together said, ‘maybe this is your opportunity now,’ and then I started praying to the Lord Jesus to really direct me on it and to make an opportunity for me.”

Following Bethany’s discovery of the Campus program, she was really excited to share it with her mom. “It was amazing and I told my mom about it because I know business can always come in handy,” Bethany shared. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to go on that learning journey together and see what can happen.”

Sylvia, after hearing about the program and its offer, was in disbelief. “I was like, is this real?” She laughed as she reflected on their discovery.

Going over the details, Bethany then recommended to her mom that they give Campus Admissions a call, together.

“I was a little hesitant,” Sylvia said. “And she was like, ‘Mom, you're always talking about it. Let's do it together!’ And we took the step. We called together and the door was open. I thank the Lord Jesus every day because I know he gave it to me and my daughter, and I'm grateful for that.”

Having Someone In Your Corner (And Your House!)

Going to college comes with its own set of obstacles for each and every student, but having someone in your corner can really make a world of difference. When we asked Sylvia about what her thoughts were on the challenges she and Bethany face together as college students, she admitted they underestimated the commitment at the beginning.

“When we first started, we thought, ‘This is going to be good and we're going to handle this.’ But when school started, the work was serious,” Sylvia said. “You know, sometimes you hear the misconceptions about remote schooling – that it’s nothing like in-person schooling. In all reality, I've been to both, and remote schooling, I would say, is harder.”

Sylvia specifically highlighted the importance of students keeping themselves on a schedule to help them from feeling overwhelmed with their studies, but Bethany also pointed out a key theme amongst the obstacles the two of them have faced together that could also be a factor to look out for in any student’s college experience.

“I think the most challenges we've overcome are mental challenges,” Bethany said. “It's the mental ones of not feeling capable enough, but still having that drive to not be willing to quit.”

Upon hearing this from her daughter during their interview with Campus, Sylvia agreed wholeheartedly. “You know, it's funny because Bethany got it so right on point. It is all about the mental challenges. The truth is: it's all in the brain. It's all in the mind, and when you can effectively execute and aim, you can actually work more functionally.”

When shedding some light on some of the mental blocks they have faced together, Bethany also describes a common block they both face in different ways whenever they are working on assignments or projects for the same class.

“Whoever finishes first is relieved that they finished,” Bethany stated. “But the other one kind of feels a little bit more deterred because you're like, ‘We started at the same time, yet I'm not catching up there!’ Then the one that finished is like, ‘Well, did I do it right? I finished way ahead of time.’”

Reflecting on those hurdles, Bethany added, “It's funny how the mental blocks happen from working with each other, but you overcome those mental blocks by working with each other.”

Ultimately, the two often come together to support each other throughout every step of their adventure in college. “We overcome by reminding each other of what you're standing for, knowing what you're presenting, and supporting it all the way,” Sylvia said.

“We remind each other, and I think that's amazing that we overcome our challenges by constantly being a positive reinforcement.”

Agreeing with her mother’s sentiment, Bethany offered some insight into their process when working together. “When we're working, we'll both do a checkup. If one of us is extremely ahead, then we are the other’s cheerleader. We’ll say ‘You got this; you can keep on going!’”

As Sylvia puts it, “We're constantly giving positive feedback to one another, pushing each other with positive words, reminding each other of our goals. We're going to finish this. We started it together. We're going to finish it together with excellence.

Celebrating Milestones, Family Style

The Sullivans also share that positivity with each other by celebrating the end of each successful quarter in the online associate degree in business program. They are, after all, honorees of the Winter 2023 Campus Academic Awards! As part of a well-deserved break, the Sullivans shared with us some of their favorite ways to treat themselves.

As Bethany put it, and by no means a big surprise: “Usually right after our finals exams or a long week, we'll tend to sleep in a bit so we can recuperate.”

After taking plenty of time to rest, they like to spend time together as a family to celebrate. As Sylvia explained, “We'll stay up and do a movie night. We’ll have some good food and just snack, laugh, and talk, or we’ll do our nails together. Those little treats that we look forward to are family time, but it's fun family time.”

Adding on to Sylvia’s point, Bethany noted that moments like the ones she gets to spend with her mother play an important part in taking care of herself as a student.

“It's become like a habit. It's something to look forward to – even though it's so basic – because you completely forget about [taking care of yourself] when studying. You don't take breaks for it yourself. You want to get those high grades and study, so you kind of forget about that self-care and small happiness.”

Expanding on the significance of finding time to center yourself, Sylvia went on to share her philosophy for finding those pockets of happiness throughout college.

“I believe you got to find those little quirks in your life – the valuable quirks. Whether it's by yourself or with family, it’s important to find those quirks that work for you, whether it's going to a restaurant, sitting down with a plate of food, or going to a library and reading a book just while sitting in a corner by yourself or other people. You'd be surprised!”

Life After Campus: The Sullivans' Long-Term Goals

Now that the Sullivans are nearing the end of their fourth quarter in the Campus business administration program, they’re beginning to explore their individual goals once they earn their associate degrees.

For Bethany, she has her sights set on transferring to a four-year university and going on to earn her Ph.D. in veterinary medicine.

“I plan to complete my residency, then create a company that's a 24-hour animal ER and clinic,” she explained. “I want to follow my dream of being a vet that works with all animals.”

As for Sylvia, to continue to explore her unending passion for childcare and education, she decided to continue her college education as well. Transferring to a four-year institution to learn more about early education is only her first stepping stone after earning her associate degree from Campus.

Sylvia goes on to share, “I want to go pursue my Ph.D. and become a leader in early education, which all ties into my ultimate goal…to open up an early learning center for children with the resources and ability to help children, and basically extending my services to those in need as well as to those that are able to pay for it.”

We look forward to a bright future for these inspiring women. Their disciplined work ethic, passion for education and care, and drive to keep moving forward as a team is the perfect dynamic for the Campus community.

Learn More About the Campus Experience

If Bethany and Sylvia Sullivan’s story resonates with you, or their words about Campus have caught your attention, be sure to check out the Campus online associate degree in business program or request more info here.

You can join inspiring students just like Bethany and Sylvia by applying to become a Campus Scholar today!

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