Graduation Honor Validates Working Mom's Idea of Success

For one of her first class assignments, Palm Beach Atlantic University student Susan Roberson wrote a passage that eventually became her personal slogan: “Success is dedication, perseverance and determination wrapped in commitment.”

PBA student Susan Roberson receives the Outstanding Graduate medal from MacArthur School of Leadership Dean Dr. Jim Laub during Honors Chapel last week. Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) is a private, accredited, Christ-centered college located in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.
PBA student Susan Roberson receives the Outstanding Graduate medal from MacArthur School of Leadership Dean Dr. Jim Laub during Honors Chapel last week.

On Saturday, the Royal Palm Beach mother of three will live out her own definition of success when she is recognized as the Outstanding Graduate of PBA’s MacArthur School of Leadership during fall commencement. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

Roberson has taken evening classes for the past two years to earn her bachelor’s degree in organizational management while working full time. Initially she worried about being up to the task.

“My biggest fear was ‘Am I going to be able to go back to school and study?’” she said.

A graduate of John I. Leonard High School, Roberson began her collegiate career in 1984 at Palm Beach State College, where she received a softball scholarship. She earned her associate’s degree, got married, started a family and worked for several years at a bank.

When she was laid off from her job in 2009, she began contemplating going back to school, she said. At the time, PBA was one of the colleges her middle son, Ryan, was considering in hopes of playing baseball, she said.

Soon she started a new job on the island of Palm Beach working in financial services. From her workplace, she had a view of PBA’s main campus, she said.

Then one day after speaking with a former colleague who was a PBA graduate, Roberson decided to learn more about the University. She said she liked what she heard, especially when she learned that she could take classes close to her home at PBA’s Wellington campus.

She enrolled in 2010 and soon came to value her professors, she said. She remembers writing her definition of success for one of her first classes, Leadership for Academic Success. Dr. Richard Durr, an adjunct professor in the MacArthur School of Leadership, had challenged the students to find something and make it their own, she said.

Her definition became her thing, she said. “I actually live by that.”

Another faculty member, Professor of Adult Education Dr. Nicholas Palmieri, helped her begin to view everyday tasks and challenges on multiple levels, including a spiritual one, she said. Assistant Professor of Education Pam Sigafoose left an impression on Roberson by incorporating faith into every single class, she said. “I’m amazed by her ability to do that.”

Roberson is graduating just as her youngest son, Brady, is completing his first semester in college. She said she is grateful for having the support of her family, including her husband, Doug, and their oldest son, Troy.

She said she would encourage other working adults who are thinking of going back to school to investigate their options.

“People need to know that they can do it,” she said. “It’s beneficial to you … to keep on learning.”