Two alumni share how they acted as champions for each other from enrollment to commencement

A friend’s advice can be the biggest catalyst for change. Michele Levandusky ’14 (right) knew it was time to continue her education to advance her career, and she knew her colleague-turned-friend Ingrid Mariano ’14 needed to as well. The referral was just the start of the pair’s personal and professional journeys.

 Ingrid Mariano and Michele Levandusky

MICHELE, WHY DID YOU REFER INGRID TO WALDEN?

When I told Ingrid I was getting my master’s, she looked at me like I had lost my mind. But I know her better than that; she strives for perfection and wants to improve her life and her career. So seeing the options Walden had for us and that we could complete our programs fully online, I knew it would be a good fit for her.

INGRID, WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO ENROLL?
Michele is the strongest woman I know, and I knew we could reach our goals together. I had my first child when I was 17, and he was already in college, so I decided I was going to get my MBA before he graduated to set an example for him and my other children. I called Michele’s advisor and told her I wanted to pursue my MBA. I enrolled, and the next day at work, I told Michele we were going to tackle this journey together.

MICHELE, WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO SEE INGRID SUCCEED?
There were times when I knew Ingrid wanted to give up. I told her she was not going to give up on herself, because I wasn’t giving up on her; she was going to get through it, and she did. I was so proud to see her achieve this, knowing what her life is like. I determine my success based on other people’s success, so to see her accomplish this meant more to me than my own degree.

HAVE YOU REFERRED ANYONE ELSE TO WALDEN?
Michele: One of my daughters is pursuing her bachelor’s at Walden. She is 23 and has a 3-year-old son, so Walden was the perfect fit for her to continue her education.
Ingrid: I’ve referred my oldest son and his girlfriend because it’s a great fit for them academically. Writing isn’t my son’s best skill, and I know the faculty at Walden will work with him on that. They haven’t enrolled yet, but I would be so proud to have him go to Walden.

WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEE IN YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?
Michele: Walden has given me the tools and the confidence to become the entrepreneur I want to be. I am taking what I learned and showing others how to build solid leadership teams, properly coach their staff, and take their businesses to a higher level.
Ingrid: It’s a confidence booster like no other. I finally learned the business skills I needed to get to the next level, and I got a new job at an organization known for growth. Being able to share that I earned my MBA is huge, especially because I’m a single mom of five. If I can do it, anyone can.

We want more graduates just like you. Introduce friends and family at myWaldenAlumni.com/refer.

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