Brittney Ballard is a walking example of “if you don’t succeed at first, try, try again.”
She started attending classes at the University of Louisville in the fall of 2009. A number of obstacles forced her to stop and resume her education twice more over an eight-year span.
Though she could’ve thrown in the towel, already holding a full-time job and no immediate incentive to get her diploma, she went seeking advice on a way to return to college. A conversation and unique program at UofL opened the door for Ballard.
“I found out about the Fresh Start Program in spring of 2016 after talking with one of my advisers,” Ballard said. “The Fresh Start Program gave me the opportunity to start over with my GPA.
“Prior to taking the Fresh Start Program, I was on academic probation and had struggled to do well in my classes. I struggled for a number of reasons, I didn’t have a reliable way to school, I worked third shift and I lacked motivation because I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. Ultimately, I felt lost.”
Students are eligible for only one Academic Fresh Start, but as part of the program, they can resume their academic careers and request a reset of their cumulative grade-point average. The program has no impact on earned hours.
Ballard restarted her coursework in the fall of 2016, focusing on a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and learning. At times, Ballard, who took advantage of the university’s online learning option, admitted having doubts about completing her degree with the demands of being a full-time employee and a full-time student.
“My best friend of 22 years, Heather Luckett, and my fiancé, Jacob Settle, always encouraged me to keep pursing my dream,” Ballard said. “When I felt like giving up, they both stepped in to give me pep talks and remind me why getting my degree was so important to me. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Every milestone, they have been there cheering me on; I couldn’t ask for a better support system.”
On May 11, Ballard was a walking example of success. The Louisville, Kentucky, native strolled across the stage at the KFC Yum! Center, receiving her diploma Summa Cum Laude with a 3.9 GPA.
“Getting my degree was always something I had strived for. To me it was a sense of accomplishment,” Ballard said. “I wanted to make everyone in my family proud and have a positive influence on my younger siblings. To me, getting my degree meant more opportunities and success.”
Ballard has dreams of opening more doors. Currently a strategic sourcing specialist at a custom trailer manufacturer, she aspires to further her education, potentially at Louisville.
“Next, I plan on using my degree to obtain a management position within my company,” Ballard said. “In the future I hope to go back to the University of Louisville for my MBA.”