When Kimberly May began her journey at Quinsigamond Community College, she was employed full-time at Reliant Medical Group, but for her to move forward in her career, she realized she would need to pursue a higher education. Becoming a student at QCC not only led to more career opportunities, but also led to leadership roles.
Having held supervisory roles in both her current and past jobs, she felt capable of performing in an upper level management position. However, she was faced with the fact that she lacked a degree. Having been turned down twice in her pursuit to obtain a higher position was what ultimately catapulted her to initiate the first step towards her higher educational journey.
“I was fearful when I first came to QCC as a non-traditional student,” said the 45-year-old mother of two. “I suffered from reading comprehension issues during my primary and secondary years, which impacted my academic performance and often resulted in having to memorize concepts in order to perform well on exams. I was an average student who struggled.”
Upon coming to QCC, she took advantage of the services offered, such as the math lab. “I was motivated once I got here, but as soon as I began obtaining good grades, that motivated me further. As a result of my tireless efforts, I got invited to the Commonwealth Honors program and began taking honors level courses.”
Ms. May has been named a “29 Who Shine” scholar by the state of Massachusetts.
Since 2011, the state Department of Higher Education has named an annual list of outstanding graduates from the Commonwealth’s public higher education system. The winners will be celebrated at a ceremony at the Statehouse in Boston in May. Award winners are selected on the basis of their academic success as well as their records of leadership and community service.
“It has been a truly humbling experience,” she said. “I was surprised to learn I was named the recipient of this award, and I was proud of how well I performed as a non-traditional student. It goes to show that hard work really does pay off.”
During her tenure, she was involved in the TRiO Student Support Services program, a federally funded program that provides support and services to students, enabling them to achieve their academic and career goals. She was an officer of the Alpha Zeta Theta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society, as well as a member of Psi Beta Honor Society for Psychology.
She originally started part-time, but became a full-time student when she entered the nursing program. While in the program, she was the Liaison for the Workforce and Development Center, a new position that was created to support PTK at the downtown campus.
But in 2015, her world was turned upside down when her 23-year-long marriage unraveled and she suffered a traumatic experience that would have an impact her schooling. “I was devastated after getting eliminated from the nursing program as a result of all the adversities that I faced. However, the support and encouragement that I received from Bonnie Coleman (faculty advisor for PTK), the members of the chapter, faculty members and from my family and friends acted as a vehicle, and motivated me to continue my studies. QCC, and PTK in particular, has been like a second family for me,” she said. “I am so grateful for all the opportunities that have been afforded to me. As a child, I was a shy individual, but the training I have received through PTK has really helped me grow personally and professionally.”
Ms. May will graduate this spring with two degrees, an associate’s degree in general studies, and an associate’s degree in general studies healthcare. She plans to transfer her credits to Northeastern University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management.
Ms. May received scholarships through the QCC Foundation, the Paul Connell Memorial Scholarship and the Alumni Scholarship. She was also named a Women of Distinction for 2015.
“Kimberly May deserves this award because of her dedication to our chapter and our school,” Ms. Coleman said. “Kim has high academic achievement and has been a leader throughout this year in our chapter. She embraces every situation, good or bad, as a way of learning. I am extremely grateful for Kim, she has been an inspiration to all our members and her officer team.”
Being involved in PTK has led to some unique experiences, such as being on the Hank Stolz radio show, Face the Region, and filming a QCC video commercial.
“I chose to become president of PTK and devote a year of selfless service to the members of the chapter and the school, because I wanted to say thank you for all the support and encouragement that I received, not only when at my lowest ebb, but all throughout my journey,” she said.
She has been involved in the fundraising efforts to support “Lilly,” Worcester Public Library’s newest bookmobile, which visits area schools and family events. “It is a very important project,” she said. “Due to budget constraints, a lot of schools in the Worcester area no longer have libraries, so a lot of children don’t have access to library books. In Worcester, statistics show that roughly 59% of students entering the fourth grade are not reading with proficiency.”
In 2014, PTK voted to help sustain Lilly with a pledge of $100,000 over three years. The pledge is supported by the QCC Foundation.
She also has been involved with the Live & Learn Greenhouse initiative, a gardening project that aims to renew the connections between people and the natural environment, provide healthy, nutrient-rich food for the Quinsigamond Community College community, and will serve as an educational tool for students, faculty, staff and children.
“The most rewarding part of serving in a leadership capacity is the ability to cultivate new leaders and inspire others,” she said. “We’ve seen tremendous growth in our chapter this academic year, as a result of the officer team’s efforts to increase awareness here on campus.”
She will be attending the international PTK leadership conference in Nashville, Tenn., in April, where she has been bestowed the honor of representing the state of Massachusetts as flag bearer during the Parade of Flags Ceremony.
Ms. May will be the first in her family to graduate with a professional degree. She has two children, Colleen, 20, and Brianna, 23, both of whom reside in Massachusetts.