Among the College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) 466 candidates earning 480 associate degrees and being welcomed to join the 60+-year-old cohort of CSM alumnae is one of CSM’s hardest working leaders. CSM Foundation Board Chair Kimberly Rosenfield earned her wings to become a CSM alumna when she received her Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Management, a Business Management certificate and a Business Management letter of recognition during CSM’s 62nd Spring Commencement May 14.
The CSM Foundation selected Rosenfield as its board chair in 2019 after the local businesswoman had served on the board for two years. Along with Brenda Lowe as vice-chair, the pair guide the CSM Foundation in its continued efforts to increase access to higher education through scholarship funding, and assure the excellence of CSM’s education by raising and managing funds for the college’s projects and objectives – including supporting the college’s ‘Alumni & Friends Connection.’
Despite already holding a bachelor’s degree from the College of Psychology of North Carolina State University (NCSU), Rosenfield said she wanted to get her degree from CSM to deepen her connection to the college.
“My time on the board is limited to nine years, but being an alumna is for life,” Rosenfield said. “My original purpose for accepting the board nomination was because I believe in the transformative power of education. But, during my time serving this amazing community college, I fell in love with CSM itself – the faculty, the staff, the students, the mission – I really wanted to find a way to stay involved when my term ended.”
This week, CSM Headline News asked Rosenfield to reflect on her journey as a CSM student. What follows are the Q&A from the interview:
CSM Headline News: What prompted you to pursue your AA degree with CSM?
KR: I was surveying the room at my first Foundation board meeting as chair, standing with [CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy], and lamenting that so many of the other board members were alums and I hadn’t even taken a class here. I felt a little out of place and frankly, left out. So, Dr. Murphy challenged me to change my situation. During the meeting, she emailed me a link to the Fitness Center Management certificate, since my hobby is fitness coaching. I decided, instead, to pursue an associate degree in Business Management. My undergraduate degree is in social work, but through a series of twists and turns, I became a financial advisor having never taken a business or economics class. I figured an AAS in Business Management would help me feel closer to the college and be beneficial to my career, so I took that pathway instead.
What was it like Fast Tracking your classes?
Very intense! It’s an arduous program, requiring a lot more time and attention than I first realized. The pace and the instructors forced me to focus, manage my time, and stay committed. It ended up being a wonderful and welcome distraction during COVID safer-at-home orders. I joke that learning was my COVID hobby. And I’m proud to say, I’m graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA!
What other degrees do you hold?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Social Work from NCSU and my Certified Financial Planner designation, which is the equivalent of a master’s degree. But I graduated from NCSU in 1993 and the College of Financial Planning in 2004, so I very much had to relearn how to learn.
How did you balance work, home life, and school?
In the beginning I felt overwhelmed. I eventually decided to live by the old adage: “Make good or make room, but don’t make excuses!” Determined to make good, I scheduled study time into every day, gave up mindless TV, devoted every Sunday to school work, and just made it a priority. It helped a lot that I have a supportive spouse and understanding friends.
Did you meet many students along the way? What was that like to immerse yourself into the student experience during a pandemic?
Considering that I was planning to complete all of my classes online, I didn’t think I’d have to opportunity to connect with many other students. But, our professors were really great about requiring class discussions, encouraging digital engagement, and assigning group projects. I participated in Zoom study groups, joined in MyCSMD Student Feed discussions, and even got my digital caricature drawn at a Student Life online event. I learned a lot about our students, from our students and I plan to use this knowledge to further the work of the Foundation. That said, as a Foundation board member, I am extraordinarily proud to see all the things CSM does for its students.
Besides the expertise you’ve acquired by achieving your degree, what is the biggest takeaway you have from this experience?
Lifelong learning is absolutely essential to staying young and engaged and there’s no better place for it than CSM. I’m just sorry I waited so long to take classes at CSM, but you can bet I’ll be back to take more. There’s no stopping me now.
Rosenfield is a partner and financial advisor with The Rosenfield Group at Morgan Stanley. In addition to her work with the CSM Foundation, she has served as president of Zonta of Charles County and board of directors’ president for the Center for Children as well as a board member of Leadership Southern Maryland. She has served as a member of CSM’s Nonprofit Institute and as a member of the investment committee for the Community Foundation of Southern Maryland.