OVERLAND PARK — Like a lot of people, Cynthia Bishop is about to earn a bachelor’s degree. Unlike most people, for her it represents the end of a decades-long journey.
Over the course of that journey, she has worked in jobs ranging from a dental assistant to vice president of a small business. She moved to Florida, then back to greater Kansas City; got married and raised two kids to their teens; took courses and earned credits from several colleges and programs; and led several environmental projects for her community and her children’s schools.
Bishop was busy, successful and accomplished. The lack of a completed degree, however, always nagged at the back of her mind. When she decided to complete the process once and for all, her choice was easy: the University of Kansas Edwards Campus.
But while the choice was easy, it was also somewhat accidental.
Bishop was planning to complete her course work through online classes. The program required her to take tests at a supervised location, which happened to be the Edwards Campus in Overland Park.
"The online courses were convenient, but I really felt like I was missing something, not having that one-on-one, face-to-face contact with professors," she said.
At the Edwards Campus, she met several members of the business faculty and was impressed by their knowledge and their interest in her career aspirations. She learned that at KU, she could combine her business major with a minor in environmental studies, which would really help her reach her goal of working on sustainability initiatives for business.
She also learned that scholarships could be earned. She competed for and won the Richard and Jane Thiessen Scholarship in 2009 and the Johnson County Education Research Triangle Scholarship for 2010-11.
As for the convenience factor, "I didn’t have to drive all the way to Lawrence. The Edwards Campus is only five minutes from my house" in Overland Park. So Bishop enrolled in the relatively new bachelor of business administration program at the Edwards Campus, funded by the Research Triangle initiative.
Attending school in person also gave her the opportunity to get involved in extracurricular activities, such as the campus Supply Chain Management Club. Club members recently traveled to Louisville, Ky., for a tour of the UPS global package sorting facility, Worldport.
"It was a great experience touring with top executives from UPS," Bishop said. "Worldport is a huge facility, handling about a million packages every night. I was impressed with UPS’ sustainability efforts."
She’s particularly interested in the sustainability aspects of supply chains.
"I want to work for a corporation that focuses on sustainability and environmental policy," Bishop said. "It is an incredible field to be in, just growing tremendously. And I’ve always had a real interest in it."
Her long-range goal is to help bridge what she calls "the international environmental policy gap." Doing so will require helping multinational corporations to "realize the benefits in the long run of building more sustainably rather than just paying the penalties or acquiring more carbon credits and continuing to pollute as if nothing is happening."
"Bridging the gap will require environmental policy equality and education among nations," she added. "Sustainability calls for policies and strategies that meet society’s present needs without compromising the ability of future generations."
Bishop sees sustainability as, essentially, a human rights issue.
"After taking environmental, cultural and international business classes, I have developed a deep concern for human rights and environmental justice," she said. "I have been surprised by the lack of human rights for those who live in impoverished areas around the globe and would love to someday see these diverse populations work together to create change. It all starts with educating larger corporations as well as our children on sustainability efforts."
Still, the biggest reason Bishop has for finishing her degree isn’t about setting career goals. It’s about setting an example for her kids: Jake, 13, and Kaytlin, 12.
"I wanted to complete this for them, to teach them that once you start something, you need to finish it and finish strong," she said. "My adviser said something to me and I’ve hung it on my wall throughout this process. It is, ‘When the rock and the stream meet, the stream will always win. Not through strength, but by persistence,’ by H. Jackson Brown. The quote carried me down the stream. I appreciate everyone at KU who has helped me along the way."
About The University of Kansas Edwards Campus
KU Edwards Campus is dedicated to providing high-quality education to Greater Kansas City by offering a number of graduate and undergraduate degree completion programs. Founded in 1993, the Edwards Campus offers a variety of programs that provide adult learners with the necessary tools to further their careers. The current campus expansion, scheduled for completion in December 2011, will have a positive impact on jobs and the economy, resulting in a better quality of life for our community. For more information about the campus and its expansion, visit EdwardsCampus.KU.edu.