Folsom's Fido Field co-founder hits books to earn college degree

By: Margaret Snider, Telegraph Correspondent
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One local lady hasn?t let her education go to the dogs. Barbara Bernardin, Folsom resident for 12 years, and one of the founders of Fido Field, just graduated from Drexel University Center for Graduate Studies with a master of science degree at the age of 52. A few years back she was working for a small startup firm and was laid off. ?I think I might want to do something different,? she told herself. ?But I didn?t want to start at the bottom of a career again, not at 52.? She was somewhat intimidated by the idea of going back to school at her age and considering the cost. She found, however, that it was actually more reasonable than she expected. ?Part of it was based through the fellowship program that Drexel had in place for the first year,? Bernardin said, ?as well as working with my employer, who paid some of the cost. So it?s worth looking into.? It did require considerable effort. ?It took a lot of organizational and time management skills,? Bernardin said. ?There were times when it was really difficult trying to balance family, work and home.? She teased her family and friends, saying that she would have a ?Get to know Barbara? party once she graduates. Now that she is done with the program, she does find extra time reappearing. ?I can?t tell you the last time I just sat and watched TV for an extended period of time and I don?t want to fall into that,? Bernardin said. She intends to spend at least some of her free time keeping up with professional journals and skills in both project management and information science. ?You?re supposed to live in the moment and get everything out of it you can,? Bernardin said. ?I think that?s great, I?m just not good at that. (I?m thinking) okay, what?s the next thing down the road?? Dr. Toni Carbo, Bernardin?s adviser and one of her professors at Drexel, said Bernardin has been a highly motivated student who also served in the University?s Graduate Student Association (GSA). ?She was very active at the center,? Carbo said. ?She often volunteered. We do different volunteer programs every month with different community organizations. Drexel?s a very community focused university here in Sacramento, as well as at our main campus in Philadelphia.? Fellow student and now MBA graduate of Drexel, Dean O?Brien, 31, of Sacramento has known Bernardin for three years, and served with her on the GSA. He handed the treasurer role over to her this year. ?Barbara was a two-term member like myself, which is pretty rare,? O?Brien said. ?I think it shows a lot about her character and her willingness to serve, coming back and helping the Graduate Student Association get established.? Bernardin was very good at reaching out to other students, and mentoring the newer students, Carbo said. ?She?s a wonderful student,? Carbo said. ?Typical of Barbara, she?s already set up a good ListServe for the students that have graduated so they can stay in touch.? Bernardin is very happy with her experience and her degree from Drexel University. ?I certainly learned things academically, but I learned more about myself and how to structure my time, and I?m not intimidated by new things as much,? Bernardin said. Bernardin decided on Drexel University after looking at all of her options locally. Her degree program, the Library and Information Science (LIS) degree, was one of the first offered by Drexel when it opened its Center for Graduate Studies in 2009. After she had started the degree program, Bernardin obtained a job at Eyefinity, a group established by Vision Service Plan (VSP) for the purpose of processing electronic claims submissions. She is now a senior project manager there. Bernardin said that she is definitely an optimist, and this helps her keep herself on track and moving forward. ?Keep building your skills and keep your skills fresh,? she advised. ?Part of what I?ve come away with is it doesn?t matter how old you are, if you?re ready to do something new, do it. Whatever it is.?