How female support can aid career growth

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Women still have tremendous strides to make in the workplace. A recent University of Phoenix study shows that women are still underrepresented in leadership positions, and more than half of Americans say they have not worked for a company with a female CEO or business owner. Unfortunately, these stats aren’t as shocking as they should be.

Because there are so few of these leaders, some women may feel like they have to compete with each other for one of the top spots. But instead of competing against each other, women can work together to break that mold.

Mentors can have a positive impact on the attitudes of those they’ve taken under their wing, encouraging them to achieve big things. This could be extremely helpful for women trying to make it in male-dominated fields. It’s sometimes an uphill battle, and having someone on your side that provides a boost of confidence can be a real game-changer.

That is why it is so important that when women break down barriers of entry, they help pull other women with them in their ascent.

These three women, all proud graduates of University of Phoenix, are evidence of this.

Image: University of Phoenix

Dawn Wilson

Criminal justice is a tough field to begin with, but it can be even more difficult for women as this workforce is still overwhelmingly male.

However, the employment numbers didnt deter Dawn Wilson when she decided to pursue a career in law enforcement, something she had aspired to since age 11.

Wilson achieved her dream of becoming a police officer when she was sworn in with the Johnson County Sheriffs Department in Kansas at the age of 25.

She quickly discovered that her training officer, Vicky Huck, would become one of the most influential people in her career.

“I learned from her,” Wilson says. “I managed to follow in her footsteps as a training officer of new deputies, then as an instructor of suicide prevention, cultural diversity and CPR.”

When Huck was promoted to the rank of sergeant, Wilson was right in line behind her. Deputy Huck now Sergeant Simpson had a massive influence on Wilson’s career, so she was proud to be present at her retirement.

Mentorship is best when its passed on to someone new. So when Wilson was assigned as a personal trainer to Melissa Ward, a new recruit, she knew it was her time to go from mentee to mentor.

“Melissa reminded me of myself when I was her age,” she says. “I guided and encouraged her, helped her study and watched as she excelled in the police academy.”

Even when Ward was injured while doing a physical fitness exercise, Wilson made sure she didn’t give up. She regained her health, returned to the academy and became an officer in 2013. The two are still close, even through career and life changes.

Image: University of Phoenix

Brandi McAlexander

Through a lot of hard work and determination, Brandi McAlexander earned her Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration at University of Phoenix in 2015. She later earned a position as a Senior Executive Director of Corporate Renewal at Shumway Holdings in Albuquerque, NM.

Since being hired, McAlexander has proven time and again that she’s an asset to her team. In just two years, she has more than doubled the amount of existing Medicare Home Health Companies under her employer.

Through it all, she was lucky enough to have an amazing mentor in her former boss, Dawn Brooks. The CEO of San Juan IPA, Brooks helped McAlexander to navigate her own path toward similar success.

“Her story gave me hope that I could be as successful as she was,” McAlexander writes via email.

Brooks was always there to offer advice and give warnings about potential challenges in McAlexander’s career path, and she still does the same today.

McAlexander is also paying it forward to others who want to excel. She currently tutors two women who are studying for the California First Year Law School Exam.

In addition to helping students, she consults women about making career changes. She recently spoke to a neurologist who is facing her own set of challenges while attempting to pivot within her career. McAlexander says she worked with this woman to come up with possible avenues she could take, including affecting legislation that pertains to the medical field.

Above all, McAlexander understands how essential sisterly support is.

“It’s always nice to have someone help you, give you advice or just listen when youre making career decisions,” she says.

Image: Beckys Blissful Bakery

Rebecca Scarberry

In the midst of personal woes, including job loss, Rebecca Scarberry took the steps to begin Beckys Blissful Bakery, where she uses the business knowledge she gained while getting her degree at University of Phoenix.

Her bakery and specifically the gourmet caramels she makes has earned her numerous accolades. Scarberry has received The Milwaukee Business Journals 40 Under 40 Award, the Business Journals Eureka Award and the Pewaukee Chamber Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She was also honored with the Spirit of Service Award through the University of Phoenix Alumni Association.

But it wasn’t always so “blissful.” At the start of her career, she faced a lot of challenges in running her business, including pushback from a male investor who simply did not share her priorities.

So she turned to the talented women in the business community around her most notably Lynne Keckeisen, an associate from the Wisconsin Womens Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), and Amy Scerra, founder of Think Global Institute.

Keckeisen was a calming presence for Scarberry, offering advice and guidance even in the most stressful moments. Meanwhile, Scerra provided encouragement and assistance, and became like family to Scarberry. Together, these women helped to make Becky’s Blissful Bakery the success they all knew it was capable of being.

When she was up and running, Scarberry says she knew there was a bigger job for her to do: help other women.

Now she donates her time to numerous causes, including the WWBIC. She is a speaker who offers insight into business subjects, like marketing and overcoming hardship.

“One of the most rewarding things I get to experience now is helping others. When someone calls me, or emails me asking for help, direction, resources or advice, thats what this is about,” she says.

Scarberry also has some words of wisdom for any woman out there trying to make it on her own.

“Take the time to get adequate funding, find a mentor, understand the different phases of business and surround yourself with an army of trusted people to protect you and your business. Especially if theyre women.”


For important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rates of students who attended this program, visit the University of Phoenix website.

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