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LITH grad overcame more than age issues to earn two degrees

59-year-old Judy Burton-Williams Lake Hills who recently received her second college degree from Roosevelt University.   Goes with

59-year-old Judy Burton-Williams of Lake in the Hills, who recently received her second college degree from Roosevelt University. Goes with

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Updated: March 5, 2013 6:16AM



LAKE IN THE HILLS — The journey has been difficult for 59-year-old Judy Burton-Williams, who recently received her second college degree from Roosevelt University — a master’s in human resources management from the Heller College of Business.

In fact, for Burton-Williams of Lake in the Hills, who arrived in the United States from Trinidad in 1979, the dream of getting an advanced college degree long proved elusive.

However, she knew she couldn’t give up even when her dream of becoming a lawyer didn’t materialize.

Burton-Williams, who received a bachelor’s degree in professional studies as an honors student from Roosevelt University in 2007, was accepted into law school in Michigan in 2009. However, she dropped out after a year because she couldn’t sleep, affecting her health and ability to grasp fully what she was trying to study.

“I finally realized I had to choose another discipline, but I knew I couldn’t give up the fight,” said Burton-Williams.

“I figured I had to finish the college journey and could use my year in law school as a springboard to another degree and career that would be less costly and easier on my health,” added Burton-Williams who had spent two decades before as a flight attendant on international routes to Europe and Latin America for American Airlines.

Since Burton-Williams had leadership training with the airlines, she decided human resources might be a better path for an advanced degree.

As a graduate student in Roosevelt’s Heller College of Business, Burton-Williams proved herself to be a natural leader, serving as a Heller graduate assistant and as president of Roosevelt’s chapter of the Society of Human Resources Management club.

According to Donald Wlodarski, adjunct professor in marketing, management and human resources who had Burton-Williams in an employee benefits class, it was a perfect fit for his student.

“She’s an intense leader — dedicated, organized and concise in everything that she does,” said Wlodarski, who was most impressed with the graduate student’s perseverance, particularly at a time when many people her age wouldn’t dream of starting a new educational path and career.

“Judy Burton-Williams is an example for all people who say, ‘You can’t do this,’ and she’s a prime example of what Roosevelt provides — and that is an opportunity for all qualified students regardless of things like race, religion, gender or age to not only succeed, but also to excel in accomplishing that success,” said Wlodarski.

“I’m a senior citizen now, and I do want to start a new career,” said Burton-Williams, who walked across the stage of the Auditorium Theatre to receive her advanced business degree in December 2012.

“I couldn’t be prouder to have a second degree from Roosevelt, which has prepared me well for a leadership role in the human resources field,” she said. “Being a senior, I know there’s another difficult journey ahead,” she added.

“But I am armed with new knowledge, a lot of working experience and my maturity and I’m ready for the fight that will take me onward to new horizons.”



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