How far would you go to earn a degree that could open doors to the career of your dreams?
For Koree Kimball, the answer is 120 miles a day.
That’s how far the 25-year-old Pahrump, Nevada, resident drives round-trip, five days a week, to pursue her degree in the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Carrington College in Las Vegas.
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Koree, a single mother, says the commute is especially challenging because of the extra time it requires her to be away from her 18-month-old daughter Aubree.
“Getting to an 8:00 a.m. class in Las Vegas means I need to be up at 4:00 a.m.,” Koree explains. “I drop my daughter off at my mother’s house and begin a 60-mile drive that usually takes two hours because of traffic and road construction. By the end of the day, I can’t wait to get home to my daughter. I know that earning my degree will be worth it, but there are days when the commute really tests my commitment.”
It’s a test that Koree, who began her program in August 2018, is passing with flying colors. She currently holds a 3.57 GPA and is on track to complete her degree, graduate and sit for her boards next April.
Koree was recently the first Carrington student on the Las Vegas campus to be honored with special recognition—and a medal for “Going Above and Beyond”—at a surprise on-campus ceremony. She says pursuing her degree has proven more satisfying than any job she’s ever held.
“I’ve been working since I was 15,” says Koree. “I was a lifeguard. I planned and coordinated parties for kids. For five years, I worked 70 to 80 hours a week as a regional manager for a national sandwich chain. It was a good company, but I really didn’t have any passion for what I was doing.”
Koree says that job helped her realize what she did—and didn’t—want out of life.
“I love the idea of having a career that improves not only my life, but the lives of others,” she says. “Physical therapy is a field where improvements can happen quickly and be life-changing. It also offers regular hours, so soon I’ll be able to spend much more quality time with my daughter.”
Koree admits there are times, especially when she’s stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic after a long day of classes, when she second-guesses her decision to pursue her degree while her daughter is so young.
“I’d be lying if I said it was easy,” she says. “But I decided to go for my degree now because I know it will allow me to create a better life for Aubree and me. I want her to be proud of a mother who contributes something positive and healthy to the world. Completing my degree will allow me to become that person.”