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In my third year of college, right out of high school, I dropped out of UCLA with barely enough credits to qualify as a sophomore. I transferred out of my initial pre-biology major because I felt intimidated by the math. Unable to identify a new career path switched majors four times and ended up on academic probation leading me to quit school. I spent the next 15 years of my life as a trend designer successfully launching a handbag manufacturing business that I eventually sold to spend more time with my twin daughters. At age 36, I decided to resume my studies at UCLA as a Political Science major. As an older student, confident that I had the skills to be successful, I began to recognize in others why I did so poorly as a younger student.
... chose a college for the wrong reason, left a major for the wrong reason, was not motivated to ask for help, did not know help was available, had never studied without homework deadlines, had never managed daily finances, did not have a strong social network on campus, felt pressured to have a career in mind, did not know how to balance family expectations, did not know other students struggled as well, did not connect college learning to life after college...
After completing a bachelor's degree in Political Science, I decided to pursue a doctorate in Higher Education and Organizational Change from UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Science. My studies confirmed many of my personal insights and my subsequent work at a public university highlighted just how many students would benefit from additional guidance.
Given my path, I have chosen to found an organization to provide higher education and career guidance that is easily accessible and uses a portion of service fees to provide free in-kind services to those with financial barriers.
Joanne Valli-Meredith, Ph.D.
Founder & CEO
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