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January 29, 2020
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Sara Casey is Vetter's Living Proof that Tuition Assistance Makes the Highest Degree of Sense

Sara Casey and family

We caught up with Sara Casey six months after she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management. She told us of her experience, the support she received both financially and professionally from Vetter Senior Living and Bellevue University, her new promotion...and how her family and friends were with her all the way.

In the fall of 2017, Sara Casey made a courageous decision. Seventeen years after graduating from high school, she decided she was going back to study for the degree she always wanted.

It was a decision made easier by the pledge of support from her husband, Mike, teenage daughter, Ellie, and the Tuition Assistance program offered by her employer, Vetter Senior Living, partnering with Bellevue University.

Sara is originally from Omaha, and she and her family moved to Lytton, Iowa, in 2007. Two-and-a-half years ago she started in a People Development role in Vetter Senior Living's Shady Oaks Care Center just 15 minutes from home in Lake City.

That's when she saw the opportunity to grow and develop herself. Sara knew all the challenges before she started, the time and commitment needed to earn her degree, but she took it on with a positive attitude and a determination to succeed.

"It's very, very difficult to come back 17 years after graduating high school," Sara says. "You have to teach yourself how to learn again, but that was also the best part. So, being able to do that and being able to transfer that into my everyday life and open my mind to different things was just amazing.

As a high school student, we often don't know what we want from college and then as you get older and you hit your mid-thirties, you wonder is it too late?"

That's where the support and encouragement from family and work mentors really made a difference.

"There are so many people to name: Mike and Ellie, my parents, my mother-in-law. Everyone helped out. They supported me throughout the whole venture. And at work, there was Shari Owen, Ed Remm, Jalene Carpenter, Rhonda Flanigan, and of course Jack and Eldora Vetter - they were all amazing advocates for me."

How to Study While Being a Full-time Employee, Mom, and Student

"There is always time," Sara says firmly. "One of the greatest things about the Bellevue University program is the intro classes teach you how to manage your time. And so, everybody's got time to do it. You just have to plan out your day and you can do it.

One of my biggest things was the capstone project - my leader membership exchange - and applying that and building a strong team. Continuing to learn and being a perpetual learner for a lifelong journey is something that is going to be invaluable to me in my career," she says.

"Within healthcare, everything is changing - every day. So, I'm applying my learning every day."

Sara's career ambitions were at the heart of her education goals. The degree she chose was tailored to the work she does and the career she aspires to have. Her ambition was to become an administrator. "When I started out we as a family were prepared to move to wherever an administrator role became available within Vetter Senior Living."

She didn't have to wait long - or move at all! After graduating in June last year, she was promoted to Provisional Administrator at Shady Oaks in August and became full-time Administrator in September.

She is hugely appreciative of the financial support available through the Tuition Assistance Program. "The financial assistance...I would not have been able to do it without it. It's so generous and kind. Vetter Senior Living and Bellevue University partnering together, it really helps people reach their aptitudes. I appreciate it...more than you would ever know."

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