APU Careers & Learning Editor's Pick Online Learning Original

APUS Alumni Stories: Helping People Achieve Their Dreams

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By Melanie Conner, APUS Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison and Victoria Hughes, APU Graduate

Commencement is a joyous time for students and their families. After our 2019 undergraduate ceremony ended, graduates swarmed out into the hall. I saw smiles across hundreds of faces, but I saw a beaming smile on Victoria Hughes’s face.

I congratulated her on her achievement, and Victoria thanked me and told me how grateful she was to be there. Victoria has had an amazing journey as a working mom, an entrepreneur, a photographer, a writer and a soon-to-be graduate student.

Start a degree program at American Public University.

From Sociology to Nonprofit Management

Victoria completed a bachelor’s degree in sociology from APU in 2019 and started a master’s in management in May 2019 at APU. Victoria enjoyed her studies in sociology, as she has a passion for delving into issues with people.

Victoria Hughes dreams
Victoria Hughes

Her degrees help her understand why people do the things that they do. She says, “I was inspired to pursue my degree in the management field, because I believe that I have a natural talent in managing people. By adding the knowledge from my sociology degree at American Public University, it assists me with my ministry and my nonprofit organization, Gertrude Foundation of Hope.”

Victoria first prepared to become an ordained minister and a nonprofit owner back in high school by volunteer work, including the Special Olympics. In her college years, she volunteered to feed the hungry at Augusta Missions, was an editor for Georgia Military College and assisted the activities department at Glenwood Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Victoria says her education from APU has been helpful in her current career and in her daily work. She says, “I really learned a lot from sociology, especially when I had to do reports on social issues. The knowledge that I acquired in my bachelor’s degree in sociology has assisted me with my communication skills and has prepared me for realistic ways of approaching society as I pursue my nonprofit work.”

One of the courses that really affected Victoria was the Senior Seminar for Sociology. She notes, “It changed my skill set on the world and the way I see others.” Victoria says she learned about social issues that America faces, and it’s helped her be aware of specific issues that she deals with and will deal with in her ministry and her nonprofit.

Victoria adds, “Some of the issues that I really became interested in researching and writing on were the struggles and experiences that African-Americans face such as a high poverty rate, a high unemployment rate, unequal opportunities in education, unequal justice in the judicial system, a high child suicide rate, and a high domestic violence rate.

“After explaining these issues, I then came up with some solutions for these issues such as giving more funds and opportunities. Hopefully, I can ease some of these issues in my ministry and non-profit. It was also interesting to do a research paper that included the subject of gun control and be able to use the Parkland shooting as an example.”

Encouraging Others to Live Their Dreams

Victoria says that her greatest challenge as an ordained minister and nonprofit owner is that not everyone will agree with you, and at times, people do not want to hear the truth. She overcomes this challenge through prayer, scripture and mediation. She enjoys helping others with family, education, and job-related challenges, and she encourages them to use their gifts and live their God-given purpose.

Also, Victoria recommends patience and empathy to anyone who is seeking a career as an ordained minister or as a nonprofit owner. Victoria explains, “Remember that you are working with human beings who come with different types of challenges, personalities and moods. They can change in the blink of an eye. Treat others with respect and you will get the same.”

In addition, she participates in the Entrepreneurship Club and the African-American Learning, Inclusion, and Guidance Network (AALIGN). Victoria says, “Since I am African-American, I joined AALIGN so that I can learn more about my heritage, culture and history. I wanted to connect with others who are African-American just like me, and I wanted to assist others into learning about their history by writing newsletters, quotes and participating and projects.

“I enjoy being involved in an organization while attending an online school because it gives me a chance to be flexible with my studies. I get the chance to communicate and interact with students and alumni from all over the world, which is exciting.”

Victoria is scheduled to publish a book, “Our Journey, Finding Peace, Bliss, Love, Strength, Success and Contentment for yourself and your child who has Autism,” in June. The book focuses on the challenges that her autistic son has had to endure and the challenges that she had to endure as a parent. The book also talks about how they managed to overcome the challenges and highlights some huge accomplishments that they achieved on their journey.

Melanie Conner is a Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison at the university. Having worked in higher education for almost 10 years, Melanie enjoys cultivating relationships with students and alumni. She has undergraduate degrees in education from Germanna Community College and in sociology from the University of Mary Washington.

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