Keri Suslovitch, Class of 2019
Keri Suslovitch attended a small college in Boston right after high school. During the long commute from home to the urban campus, a car accident led to an injury which put her college dream on hold.
From Start-Up to Finish
Keri needed to find a school with a shorter commute. “I wanted a similar small school, closer to home. Rivier fit perfectly,” she says.
Keri transferred to Rivier, becoming a full-time student who also held down a full-time job. And in 1994, she added ‘tech start-up co-founder’ to her resume.
Time and Technology
Keri’s company, Interlynx Technology, built a suite of “self-service” human resource applications that allowed companies to take their HR processes online and integrate with ERP systems. The start-up world is often associated with around-the-clock work, and that was no different for Keri.
“The needs of the start-up demanded my entire focus, and I had to put earning my degree on hold,” she says. “I promised myself it was only a temporary setback, that I would return to finish it.”
The 24/7 dedication paid off. Interlynx’s products became a top choice among many Fortune 1000 companies, with more than 2 million employees using the system. After six years of success, the start-up was acquired.
“I had great success early in my career,” she explains. “But, still, I didn’t have a degree.”
Throughout the 2000s, Keri focused on raising a family, but the idea of finishing college remained on her mind. After all, she had made a promise to herself.
Returning to Riv
When she was ready to come back, Keri found that Rivier was a perfect fit; this time in the Professional Studies program—where degrees are designed with working adult students in mind.
“Rivier made it easy for me to pick up where I left off when I was ready to return,” she says.
As she pursued her B.S. in Business Administration, Keri took a combination of on-campus and online courses; this flexibility in format allowed her to fit school into her schedule. She found attending in-person, evening classes beneficial to her learning.
“There is something to be said for sitting in a classroom with your fellow students, especially if the class happens to offer opportunities for great discussions,” she said. “The flip side is that it can be really tough to drag yourself to a class after working all day, and you’re tired.”
She found online classes to be the best fit for her busy schedule.
“You can do the work when your schedule permits, even if it happens to be 3 a.m.,” she says. “For me, that made all the difference in the world. Not having the stress of needing to be on campus at a particular time was a game-changer.”
Another game-changer: Professional Studies students are assigned a success coach. Keri appreciated the calls and emails from her coach; they kept her motivated and aware of deadlines.
“It was really amazing to have someone proactively reach out to ensure my success,” she says.
For Keri, returning to the classroom “reawakened a real love of learning”—and she says she appreciated the education more the second time around. For one, she was able to immediately apply what she was learning in her business classes to her full-time retail management position.
“What surprised me was the impact of the non-business classes and how much they challenged me to think differently and develop new perspectives,” she says. Keri was deeply affected by one of her divinity classes, in which students were asked to consider the purpose of work.
“Do you work because you’re driven, or is it a means to an end,” she explains of the questions they explored. “It stimulated my thinking, and it caused me to really step back and think deeper about what drives me.”
A strategic management course also had a profound impact on Keri. Students were asked to reflect on everything they’d learned in prior business classes and consider how they would “apply it in a way that is true to who you are.” For Keri, this meant thinking about her own management philosophy: what drives her decisions and how her choices affect her team, impact results, and shape the work environment.
“Having someone challenge me to figure out what kind of leader I am helped me to discover where and how I can make a difference,” she says. “It was simply the best way to wrap up earning my degree.”
Keri’s looking forward to seeing where her degree will take her—maybe another start-up or a career in healthcare and medical sales. No matter what the future brings, she’s happy she kept her promise.
“Earning my degree is one of my proudest accomplishments. I think it is so important to set goals and do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to get to that finish line,” she says. “The process of getting there taught me how to problem-solve, strategize, prioritize, and persevere.”
You can learn more about the B.S. in Business Administration program that challenged Keri to be the leader she was meant to be.