SPECIAL TO THE DAYTONA TIMES
Kira Whipple-Hamil and her son, Andres, both received degrees from Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) on Dec. 14.
Getting to this point in life has not been a straight path for Whipple-Hamil. A native of Santiago, Dominican Republic, she started her college career at Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra in 1992, “one of the best universities in the Dominican Republic,’’ she said.
“I always wanted to help people and that is why I started college wanting to become a doctor.”
During her second year of college, WhippleHamil realized that she was not “cut out” for that occupation. Shortly after her decision, she changed her major to marketing and in the same year became pregnant.
She continued attending college and in 1995 she gave birth to her son, Andres. By her senior year, she had moved to Spain to start a new life as a wife before completing her degree. Her college career was placed on hold.
Example for son
In 2015, Whipple-Hamil remarried and moved to Florida. Thus, her journey began at Bethune-Cookman University.
“My husband, Dr. Stephan Hamil, is a professor at B-CU and one of his interests was that I finished my college education.”
Whipple-Hamil wanted to set an example for her son.
“When my son, Andres, started at Bethune-Cookman in the fall of 2015, I realized that if I expected him to do his best in college, I should encourage him by example. That is how after almost 20 years I found myself going back to college.”
“I started at Bethune-Cookman in the spring of 2016 and graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA and a degree in Liberal Arts in the spring of 2017. Why stop with only a bachelor’s degree, right?”
Master’s in counseling
In the fall of 2017, Whipple-Hamil started her master’s program in environmental science.
“I thought that would be a good way of helping the planet. After one semester, I realized that I wasn’t ‘scientific enough.’ So, in the spring of 2018, I decided to pursue what I have always been good at, and that is helping people resolve their problems. I started my path in mental health counseling.”
“My experience at B-CU has been very interesting. With a few highs and lows along the way, I noticed B-CU had great faculty that was truly concerned about the well -being of its students, Whipple-Hamil said.
One of her goals is to be able to help make positive changes in the lives of youth as a school counselor and Spanish teacher. Her son aspires to become a television broadcast producer and video producer.
“It fills me with great emotion and joy that my son and I have the opportunity to receive our degrees at the same time, my master’s and his bachelor’s. I’m very proud of all of my son’s achievements like working full time, going to school, and still maintain a high GPA.”
Whipple-Hamil received a Master of Science in Counseling, while Andres was bestowed a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Broadcasting.