Lifelong learner, mother, entrepreneur, author. Windy Samaria Washington wears many hats. Her journey down this path originated in 2007, when the then mother of two enrolled at Ashford University.*
At the time, the 32-year-old was fully aware that she’d have her hands full. She was married, working full time, and juggling her work and family. However, Windy was driven and determined to complete her degree.
As a child, she had watched her father earn several degrees while also raising a family and working full time. Inspired by his example, she knew she, too could do it, especially with the advent of online education and the flexibility it offered. Professionally, she felt it was an important next step to take in order for her to grow.
“Online was my saving grace,” Windy recalls. “It was a challenge to maintain my life and to study, but it was worth achieving, for myself and for my family.”
When she first enrolled, Windy had a son in elementary school, but she also had a five-month-old son.
Windy squeezed in studying while on lunch breaks and in between late-night feedings for her little one. Two years into her studies, there was another reason to be up all hours of the night. She gave birth to a daughter and suddenly, the mother of three found herself with even less free time.
Having a new baby didn’t deter Windy from her educational goals, however. She charged ahead, knowing that the payoff would be worth it in the end. As her late mother often told her about earning a degree, “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
Windy found herself thinking of that often as she pursued her Bachelor of Arts in Health Care Administration. She also kept her favorite Bible verse close at heart when it seemed like too much. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13.
By 2011, Windy had earned her bachelor’s degree. But she yearned for more, so she continued on to earn a Master of Arts in Organizational Management. In October 2012, the Golden Key International Honour Society member graduated with her second degree.
Today, the successful Texas businesswoman is putting the skills she learned in school to use as she runs her own company specializing in compliance management.
“When you run your own business and have a graduate degree, it just holds more weight,” Windy explains. “You get immediate respect from others when your education is revealed.”
Acknowledging that she’s always had a knack for being organized, Windy says she was drawn to the field of organizational management because she enjoyed research and the intricacies of resolving a problem or concern with process and quality improvement. For those considering a similar path, she says it’s important to have that mindset.
“Everything has a step and a process,” she explains. “You almost have to enjoy that type of feeling to get into it.”
Not a minute goes by where Windy regrets earning her degrees, and she encourages others to pursue their education goals.
“All that you have is time, so take one day at a time, and one course at a time and your degree will be at your fingertips very soon,” she says.
“I found that time went by so fast, and I didn’t want to regret putting off earning my degree or thinking, ‘By this time last year, I would have had so many credits toward my degree.’”
Although she’s completed her official educational goals, Windy intends on being a lifelong learner.
“I want to always learn, even when there’s not a degree attached to it,” she says. One path that she’s recently ventured down (now that she has a bit more free time!) is into the world of children’s literature.
In October 2020, she published her very first children’s book titled “Johnny Tornado.” Inspired by a bedtime story she made up for her daughter years ago, the book tells of a young tornado who is struggling to understand why tornadoes do what they do.
She says the tale teaches children about the weather in a fun way and is a reminder of the importance of following your dreams. Now, with her oldest son on track to earn his degree and her two younger children learning virtually at home (due to the Coronavirus pandemic), she’s humbled by the idea that her return to school may have inspired others to follow their dreams.
With more book ideas up her sleeve and a busy workload, this Alum of the Month is clearly focused on making as many of her own dreams come true as possible.
*Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus.
Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.