After working as a cosmetologist, a retail salesperson and a customer service representative, I felt uncomfortable knowing I could not take care of my family on my current income. I didn’t like that feeling and knew I needed to do something about it. I enrolled in the management program at Hodges University because I wanted to learn more about the difference between a manager and a leader.
How I Succeeded at Hodges
Balancing school, work and family, I completed my homework in the mornings before work, on my lunch breaks, in the evenings after everyone went to bed and on weekends. I overcame my challenges by learning time management skills and coming up with a strategy to do my homework, cook for my family and still manage my workload. When I felt intimidated and overwhelmed, I turned to my professors for support, encouragement and additional assistance.
It takes a strong person to realize when a change must occur in order to improve a situation. After years of working in positions that provided little room for advancement, Tamika Seaton made the decision to return to school and earn a degree. Little did she know, after earning two degrees from Hodges University, doors would begin opening to her.
“I knew that without an education, I would be limited with my career choices, advancement opportunities, and it would be difficult to encourage my children to go to school if I did not,” said Seaton.
After graduating from Crenshaw High School in 1993, Seaton enrolled in cosmetology school. Working as a cosmetologist for three years in Los Angeles, she realized the profession was not what she envisioned for herself. Eventually, she entered into a sales position with Nordstrom in Redondo Beach, where she worked for seven years before “taking a leap of faith” and moving to Naples, Florida, in 2003.
From 2004-2006, Seaton served as a customer service representative at Iberiabank. Realizing her confidence was lacking with regard to providing a stable future for herself or her children, she said, “I felt uncomfortable knowing I could not take care of my family on my current income back then. I didn’t like that feeling and knew I needed to do something about it.”
Enrolling at Hodges in 2005, which was known as International College at the time, she pursued a bachelor’s degree in management. “I related to management; I wanted to learn more about the difference between a manager and a leader, and the different types of management styles,” she said.
Throughout her undergraduate program, she became overwhelmed by the stress of balancing school, work and family, and she turned to her professors for support, saying, “After a couple of weeks in the first class, I felt intimidated, overwhelmed, and I wanted to give up.” Taking classes with Dr. John Meyer, she appreciated his encouragement and willingness to provide additional assistance.
Completing her homework in the mornings before work, on her lunch breaks, in the evenings after everyone went to bed and on the weekends, Seaton recalled, “I did not have a weekend for four years…I was always nervous I would miss an assignment, so I used these times to knock out my work and stay ahead.”
Graduating with her bachelor’s in 2007, one of her professors encouraged her to stay in school and pursue a master’s degree in management. Since she was already accustomed to the educational environment, Seaton agreed.
The challenge of earning a degree, working full time and raising a family continued into her master’s program, only this time, she was taking classes online. Although the online format proved convenient for her schedule, she found it was necessary to become more disciplined when posting assignments and responding to posts by other classmates.
“I overcame my challenges by learning time management skills and coming up with a strategy to do my homework, cook for my family and still manage my work load,” she said.
Earning her master’s degree in 2009, she had already positioned herself in a job with Collier County Government as a planning technician. Continuing to develop her skill sets, she moved into the position of public information officer for the City of Naples in 2012. “Since graduating, I have had amazing opportunities in my career, and so many doors have opened up and continue to open up,” she said.
Working closely with the mayor and city council, she provided guests with tours of city hall. Her position also required she meet with dignitaries such as Governor Rick Scott and various congressional representatives in addition to hosting delegations from China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
In 2014, another door opened to Seaton at The Shelter for Abused Women & Children. Serving as the senior development officer, she worked to fundraise and “make a difference in the lives of survivors of domestic violence.” Required to manage the planned giving program, Seaton managed the Next Generation committee, Planned Giving Advisory Council and Gentle’men Against Domestic Violence tailgate event.
Accepting the challenge of competing with other nonprofits for donor, corporation and grant participation, she also worked to recruit and retain volunteers.
In May 2017, Seaton took her professional experience and educational background and accepted a position as executive director at the Florida Lions Eye Clinic.
Realizing the sacrifice she made to get where she is today, Seaton is grateful for the opportunity she received at Hodges. Opening doors far beyond anything she imaged, she is able to mentor young adults, telling them of her challenges and the sacrifice she made in going to school, saying, “Strive for a career you are passionate about; do not worry about the money. No job or salary will make you happy, as happiness has to come from within…Think positively and surround yourself with positive things and people. Don’t forget to feed your mind (read, and continue to learn new things even after you are finished with school) as you do your body, because the mind is a terrible thing to waste.”