Cassie Jo Gehring knows how it feels to have a lot on your plate. Here, she shares some of the most meaningful lessons she gained during one of the most stressful periods of her life. Take it away, Cassie Jo.


1. Make the ask even when you expect or fear the answer will be no.

It has been more than a decade since child care has been provided at UA Little Rock. I reached out to people who were passionate about the cause and listened to what they had to say. This led to me having the opportunity to submit the Child Care Access Means Parents in School grant for UA Little Rock

Before this, I had never submitted a grant application. I saw my academic and professional experience coming together and empowering me to reach this goal. Very few things have felt as rewarding in my life as when I received notification that our proposal was selected for funding. 

As a student, the grant is just one of the many opportunities where I got more out of my tenure at UA Little Rock by combining excellence in academics with hands-on work experience.


2. Strive to meet your community’s needs.  

In my graduate program, I learned that we should always strive to make an impact in our community. You don’t have to change the world. Start in your community, and you can create a ripple effect to make a positive change in the world. 

By looking into child care needs at UA Little Rock, I helped write an important grant that will break down barriers for students who are parents and help them get the education they need to build a life for themselves and their children. 

The data we collect from this program will help us explore ways to provide more resources for student parents in the future. I can expect more impact from my time as a student as we continue to make meaningful contributions to our state, region and the world.


3. Learn to embrace your unique qualities.

In my line of work, most professionals boast a bubbly, energetic personality. That’s just not who I am. I can hear the laughter of my coworkers as I type this because my office nickname is "Sunshine." 

I have other qualities that more than make up for those that I lack. This includes my determination to prove myself as I succeeded in earning my master’s degree while working full time and raising a family. 

I am respected more for being genuine and making light of myself than trying to be something I’m not. Diversity even in the context of personalities is valuable in the workplace.


4. Work on advancing yourself despite the timing.

I often felt as if I didn’t have enough time or money to dedicate to education and advancing myself, but I’m glad I took the opportunity to earn my master’s degree. I have significantly expanded my job opportunities and pay scale. I’m better prepared to support my family financially and get ahead of the unexpected, like when my daughter was born at just 26 weeks weighing only one pound.

There will always be some part of my life that is in a vulnerable state, but my education has provided a huge opportunity to secure my family’s future.


5. Always meet your deadlines, even if you feel like you need more time.

As a student, I rarely felt ready to submit an assignment. I always saw room for improvement. My work was often better than I thought, and I maintained respect from my professors by meeting the deadlines they set. I became an academic force to be reckoned with as I came to expect more from myself, my classes and my future.


Cassie Jo Gehring is the associate director of advancement services for the UA Little Rock Office of Alumni and Development. She graduated with a master's of public administration from UA Little Rock in May. She is married to Andrew Gehring, and they are the proud parents to daughter Scarlett. 


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