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Spotlight on Walden // Aug 16, 2012

Meet a 2012 Graduate: Linda Davis

For more than 20 years, Linda Davis was a successful entrepreneur running a business she began in 1989. When she decided to retire, Linda thought it was going to be a life of beaches and reading, but she soon realized that that lifestyle wasn’t for her and needed something more fulfilling for her “second act.” Linda had always wanted to get her master's degree, but with her work, family, and travel schedule, it was too difficult. After receiving encouragement from a friend to pursue her master’s, Linda enrolled at Walden University and earned her MS in Psychology with a specialization in Organizational Psychology. Her passion is to positively impact women by coaching and developing them to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams.

Linda recently spoke with Spotlight on Walden after receiving her degree and shared how her education provided her with the necessary tools to start her new leadership coaching business and continue to help others in a meaningful way.

How is your Walden degree helping you start your new business?

When I started my meeting and event planning company in 1989, I had a very small amount of actual business experience. Consequently, I ran into the pitfalls that many entrepreneurial startups experience. Sales and marketing, in addition to planning for growth, are statistically the reasons small businesses fail in the first five years. Getting my degree in organizational psychology at Walden is the reason that I feel I can be successful in the future. One of my goals is to assist entrepreneurs, in particular, women, in the startup process so that they can not only learn from my 20 years as a business owner but also benefit from the knowledge and skills I acquired at Walden. Thinking about how to hire the proper talent and how to retain that talent is a process that I hadn’t even considered when I began my company. In addition to thinking about the creative spirit and operational skills needed for a startup, it’s also important to understand the market you are entering as an entrepreneur as well as what is needed to keep your company financially secure. These are all areas where I gained experience at Walden and feel that I can now give back and help others with my new business venture.

By helping entrepreneurs in the startup process, you will be sharing your experience and knowledge. In what other ways do you give back and help others? Why is this important to you?

One of the reasons I chose Walden University is because of their commitment to social change. My passion for helping young women become educated was realized when I retired at 53 and began to do charity work in Guatemala. Working with a nonprofit, Miracles in Action, to build two schools in poor rural villages was a dream come true. With my two daughters, Jessica and Jaclyn, we raised the money to build the first school. Going to the opening and seeing how many girls could now become educated because of what we helped do was such a wonderful feeling. The second school was built with my sister in memory of our mom, who had passed away. She wanted to be a teacher but did not have the opportunity to go to college. The knowledge I have acquired from Walden will enable me to return to Guatemala in the near future to continue helping young women improve their skills and perhaps start their own businesses. The girls in this country are the last to receive an education. Consequently, they are dependent on others. By educating and coaching these young women, they will have the opportunity to participate in their society and realize their entrepreneurial spirit.

What is one pieceof advice you have for others who decide to return to school and pursue their degree at Walden?

For my “second act,” I decided to go out of my comfort zone and apply to graduate school for my master’s. If you are in your 50s, you may not be as familiar with technological advancement like the younger generation. I knew that online courses would fit my lifestyle, but I admit that the process seemed daunting at times. You have to hang in there and believe you can do it. Walden offers a support system that I felt other schools did not. This was apparent to me during the initial process. I always remember the quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Thinking of this got me through the tough times. When I received my diploma, a lifelong dream was realized.