Since creating various master’s degree programs, Waldorf has witnessed several students receive their diploma and accomplish great things. Each diploma and the story behind the student who received it is unique; Beverly Retland is proof of that.
Bev grew up in Lake Mills, Iowa, and throughout the past few decades, she has worked to be one of only a few to earn her associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Waldorf.
Immediately following high school, Bev earned her associate degree from Waldorf Junior College, the institution that was also the alma mater for her grandmother, great uncles, sister and brother. Bev received her diploma and flipped her tassel in 1977 before moving to Thompson, Iowa, with her new husband.
Over the following two decades, Bev’s time was spent working as a clothing buyer for the local retail store, Fowser’s. She also worked at the Forest City medical clinic as a filing and billing clerk to the on-site coding specialist. She eventually found herself coming full circle, beginning a job in the business office at Waldorf.
It was a combination of things that motivated Bev to pursue her bachelor’s degree in business management and finance: Waldorf’s transition into a four-year school, a realization of her love for and skill with numbers, and a group of coworkers who wanted to continue their education as well.
This time, however, as a single mother of two boys and a full-time Waldorf employee, Bev had more than just homework and exams to focus on.
“It was your typical story of a full-time single mom raising her kids and taking classes on campus at night,” Bev explained of her hectic schedule.
But if her schedule ever got to be too much, she didn’t let it stop her. In 2009, two weeks before her oldest son, Ethen, graduated from high school, Bev received her second diploma from Waldorf. While her original plan was to end her schooling there, not even a year later, Bev found herself missing the homework and grind of student life and began taking online classes toward a master’s degree in organizational leadership through Columbia Southern University, Waldorf’s sister institution.
Not long after she returned to her studies, Bev’s dad became ill, forcing her to drop everything to help her family. This time, though, the break in schooling made it much harder to return. It wasn’t until her youngest son, Matt, had graduated high school and Bev found herself with too much free time in her schedule that she decided to “bite the bullet” and finish the degree she had started. Bev received her master’s degree from Waldorf in 2017.
While Bev’s path through school has helped make her an invaluable student insurance coordinator and federal Perkins Loan officer for Waldorf, Bev explained that her focus on organizational leadership has also made an impact on how she makes and responds to workplace decisions.
“I’ve always been a problem solver,” she explained. “But this program has taught me to be more patient. It has taught me that it doesn’t always have to be just a straightforward answer. There can be more approaches to it.”
The same can be said for her path through Waldorf.
While many things changed at Waldorf from her freshman year through her final degree—computers and calculators in math classes, the use of a switchboard to direct phone calls throughout the dorms, and the transition from a two-year to four-year college and eventually, to a university—Bev emphasized one thing that stood the test of time.
“Something that hasn’t changed is how the professors care about you individually,” she said. “Not just in class, but as a person and what your goals and dreams are. I felt that as an 18-year-old and I felt that as a 60-year-old.”
Bev’s passion for education was evident as she reminisced on her time as a Waldorf student and discussed her hopes to teach online classes in the future.
“My brother always says, ‘Education is very easy to pack; you can take it with you wherever you go and they can’t ever take it away from you.’”
Congratulations, Bev! Waldorf is proud to have you as an alumna and employee!