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April 15, 2011 > Regional Employee Wins USA Today Academic Award

Regional Employee Wins USA Today Academic Award

Cassandra Beverly named to 2011 All-USA Community College Academic Team

By Dolores Radding
Photo courtesy of Kaiser Permanente

Cassandra Beverly has come so far in the last few years sometimes she says it feels like a dream.

As a single mother at 16, she remembers people saying she wouldn't graduate from high school. But she did. When she started at Kaiser Permanente's regional offices in 2002 as a temporary worker, she had two small children and no hope of going to college. But that's all changed.

Beverly works full time as a litigation examiner in regional Occupational Health and she goes to school nearly full-time. She recently transferred from Merritt College in Oakland to the University of San Francisco, where she's studying organizational behavior and leadership. She expects to graduate next spring and hopes to go on to get her master's degree.

Her near perfect grade point average and strong leadership record at her community college recently earned her a spot on USA Today's All-USA Community College Academic Team. She was one of 20 students named out of more than 1,600 applicants nationwide. Beverly received an all-expense-paid trip to New Orleans to receive the honor, and a $2,500 cash award.

"After I got the call that I won, I just sat at my desk for about 30 minutes and cried," Beverly said. "If you would've told me three years ago that this was all going to happen, I would've said, 'You're crazy.'"

Beverly said it "was scary" taking that first community college class three years ago. She was afraid of not doing well. As the first person in her family to get a high school diploma, she had no one to look to for advice. But as she began collecting "A's" her confidence grew. Now she sees her success as opening doors for her children. "This isn't just about me moving up," she said. "I'm showing my children that everything I do is possible for them, and more."

Beverly gets up at 4:30 a.m. every weekday morning to be at work by 6 a.m., at school by3 p.m., and home as late as 10:30 at night. Her early morning work schedule was arranged by her supervisor, Linda Loza, who encouraged Beverly to go back to school, and then worked with her to make it happen. "She was amazingly supportive. She helped me change the history of my family," Beverly said. Loza said she saw something in Beverly early on, even when she didn't believe in herself. "I saw the raw talent and the hunger to learn," Loza said. "All I had to do was scratch the surface, and it was all there. She just shined-she's brilliant."

Beverly was also helped by a number of Kaiser Permanente educational programs and scholarships including: tuition reimbursement, education leave, the Ben Hudnell Memorial Trust stipend, and the annual Kaiser Permanente African American Professional Association scholarship.

But in the end, Loza said Beverly is where she is today because of who she is. "She didn't allow her difficult childhood, or the challenges thrown at her to stop her from achieving what she wanted," Loza said. "She never gave up."

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