Grad Year: 2010
Employer: First Niagara
Elizabeth Farmer never knew how determined she would be when setting her mind to a task. Between the sudden changes of becoming the breadwinner in her family and returning to school full time, Liz quickly and adamantly became a master of the art of persistence.
"I always had a sense that I was missing out on something," she spoke of her education. With an associate's degree and a strong desire to complete her bachelor's degree, Liz was tired of delaying her education. She chose one day to enroll in Houghton College's P.A.C.E. program to fulfill her desire. "The format of the P.A.C.E program was perfect for me," she shared. "I could attend school the one night per week and still meet any travel requirements for my job as well as my personal responsibilities. The location was very convenient and the cohort format was ideal as a returning adult student."
Working full time with a 40-mile commute, on top of managing a family, Liz knew returning to school would be no simple chore. A juggling act as such would require deliberate time management, including intentional time for her family, schoolwork, job, as well as for herself. To further intensify her workload, her husband was laid off work within a few weeks of her starting the P.A.C.E. program. Liz now needed to balance her concern with paying for school, being a full-time student, working full time, paying the bills and travelling as needed for her job. The stress was heavy but Liz persisted through the workload.
Three months into P.A.C.E., Liz suffered a physical injury and ripped her Achilles' tendon. She was required to have surgery in order to repair it, and this put her out of commission and on crutches for quite a while. To the amazement of her friends and family, Liz never missed a class during that time despite suggestions from others to quit the program. Determined and resilient, Liz continued on to the completion of her bachelor's degree and graduated from Houghton College P.A.C.E. in 2008. In addition, she enjoyed the P.A.C.E. experience so much that she began her master's degree the very next week after her cohort had concluded. She graduated in May of 2010 with her master's degree in strategic leadership. "It all started with Houghton's P.A.C.E. program!" she emphasized.
Today, Liz is Vice President/Manager of OD Program & Learning Delivery at First Niagara Bank. With over 20 years of corporate training experience, she leads a team of 14 in the delivery of learning and development for First Niagara. Liz has been instrumental in the training plans to support the company's rapid growth and expansion from 2,000 employees to over 5,000 employees during the last two years. First Niagara's current footprint now includes Upstate New York, Western and Eastern Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. By returning to school, Liz has used her education to enable her to grow and expand her role to handle the increasing scope and complexities of learning and development for First Niagara.
Liz's advice to others is to trust their instincts in jumping into a higher education program. "You have more strength within yourself than you realize. There really is never a 'right' time to do it - You just need to get it started!" To Houghton's P.A.C.E. program, she shared: "I would tell them to do it absolutely! It's time very well spent. You will make friends, learn a great deal and come out as a better overall person. It provides you growth opportunities both personally and professionally." Liz attributes her success to her ability to stay positive throughout the program and continually remind herself that "it is short-term pain for long-term gain!"