Growing up in Forest City, Kim (Phuoc) Severson knew about Waldorf. Her dad, Phuoc Truong, otherwise known as “Lucky” around campus, worked at Waldorf for years before recently retiring after 36 years of service. Kim wanted to stay close to home after graduating from high school, so she decided to pursue her associate of arts degree from Waldorf.
After earning her degree, she decided to continue her studies and work toward her bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in banking and finance, as well as business management with a minor in psychology. Kim completed her degree in the fall of 2007.
While she was working on her bachelor’s degree, Kim worked part-time at Hearing Associates, PC in Mason City. Upon graduation, a full-time position was created for her.
“I started out as a receptionist while I was in college and worked my way into the office manager position,” said Kim.
Her husband, Tim, who runs the facility department at Waldorf, mentioned one day to his wife that Waldorf was going to offer a master’s program in organizational leadership.
“I was extremely intrigued; however, because of the age of my children (then 4 and 1), I was a bit hesitant. I had toyed with the idea of going back for an advanced degree, but I always seemed to find an excuse not to follow through,” Kim said. “Always learning and growing is something I feel is important because there is always something to be learned,” Kim explained. “I want to be the very best version of myself and also set an example for my children that one is never too old to go back to school and pursue higher education.”
Since Kim was familiar with Waldorf and had such positive experiences in the past, she could hardly say no to participating in the master’s program. She took the plunge and started classes in October of 2014.
“The best part of getting my master’s online was not only the flexibility of the schedule, but also the support of all of my instructors,” Kim said. “The instructors were truly in my corner and understood the fact that I was a working mom so when my kids became sick and I was unable to turn in an assignment on time, the professors cared and were understanding.”
“I remember struggling with an assignment Dr. Deb Lindh had given us. I scheduled a phone call at her suggestion so she could walk me through the assignment so I would better understand the material,” Kim said. “Another professor, Dr. Larry Hill, was always willing to interact with me when I was being too hard on myself because I had not received the grade I wanted on an assignment. The faculty were so supportive throughout the program.”
Because of all of the professors Kim had, as well as her fellow classmates, she was able to think critically and she learned to view and appreciate the world from a different vantage point.
“Sometimes, especially when one is in a hurry, it is so easy to not view a problem from all sides. My experience with the online degree really opened my eyes to a different way of thinking.”
Kim completed her master’s degree in the fall of 2016 and quickly put her new degree to work. During her studies, Kim left Hearing Associates, PC and joined Kingland Systems, an accounting, banking and insurance company, in Clear Lake as an accounting/HR associate.
“I was extremely excited to be in a hybrid position where I could utilize my master’s in Organizational Leadership, while also having the opportunity to apply the knowledge I had gained as an undergrad in business,” Kim said.
“With the knowledge I have gained through my master’s program, I find I am more patient now. I take the time to examine all options rather than quickly finding a solution just to be ‘done’ with the problem. The online program really helped me to grow analytically, which is so useful not only in the work environment, but also personally,” she said.
Kim and her husband, Tim, have two children: Landon, 7, and Laynie, 4. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, camping and rooting for the Minnesota Vikings, Iowa State Cyclones and the Waldorf Warriors! She is also very active in her community by volunteering on the Fertile Days Committee for their town celebration, and she is a board member of the Fertile Public Library.
“My husband, Tim and I also run the Fertile T-ball program. It is important to me to be a part of my community and try to make where I live better for everyone!”
When asked what advice she would give to someone considering going back to school when they have a family and other commitments, Kim said, “If someone is on the fence about starting their online education, I would tell that person to go for it!” Kim added. “Every little hiccup you may encounter along the way will only help fuel the desire for success. The first class was the hardest, but once I had a routine down, the classes and schedule became second nature. Every instructor I had was more than happy to help in any way he/she could. An online degree is an investment in the very best possible version of yourself so what are you waiting for?”