Dawna Howle, BS’21, has officially finished what she started.
As a mother of five children, 46-year-old Dawna went back to school in 2013 to finish her bachelor’s degree. She started at Ivy Tech, made the dean’s list, and graduated in 2016 with an associate degree in business. She then transferred to IUPUI and was accepted to the Kelley School of Business.
“To be accepted to the Kelley School of Business was a huge accomplishment for me,” said Dawna. “My major life goal has been to graduate from college. I started college after high school but, then, got married and started a family. I just didn’t have time to finish. To be here now — to wear a cap and gown and to graduate with a business degree from a renowned school — that’s a dream. I’m so proud.”
It’s been quite the year for all students: Classes moved online or hybrid with the COVID-19 pandemic. Dawna not only had to adjust to the delivery shift, but she also had to adjust to seeing her interpreter on Zoom.
Dawna is deaf — as are four of her children.
“I want to show my children they can be successful. Whatever their goals are, whatever path they decide to take in life, I want them to know they can do it,” she said.
So during the pandemic — amidst helping with online school for her kids — she pushed through.
“The pandemic had a big impact on me from the beginning,” said Dawna. “Of course, helping my children with their online schooling required focus at the same time I was working full time and going to school.”
She made it — with the help of Kelley professors who became mentors along the way. Dawna is graduating with majors in human resource management and management.
“Professor Darrell Brown was so friendly and helpful, and Kim Donahue also was so compassionate,” she said. “The class material isn’t easy. I just kept telling myself: You can do this. And I did it! I kept going with support from my family, as well.”
For other students thinking about returning to school or with big goals, Dawna says: If you want it, you can do it.
“You just have to be serious about it,” she said. “You have to really want it, and if you do, you can. It definitely was a challenge to balance family, work and school, but it’s doable! It required a lot of studying, a lot of projects and a lot of team work. I had to figure out a schedule and made it work.”
And as she wears her cap and gown at the IUPUI ceremony Saturday, Dawna couldn’t be more proud. She’s off to pursue a job in human resource management and looks forward to the future.
“No matter the obstacles in your way, you can overcome them,” she added.