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Student Story with Kimberly Blue

We last spoke to Kimberly Blue when she was a student in the online Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management program at Seattle University School of Law. Since then, she has graduated and has some further insights to share. 

“I had a wonderful experience in the MLS program. I can’t say enough about the program facilitators, like Kelli (Rodriguez), the professors, and the support we received as students,” she starts right away. 

Job Duties and Responsibilities 

Currently, she is still with the same employer, Sandhills Community College located in South Central North Carolina. The college is part of a larger community college system consisting of 59 institutions, but hers is one of the first to approach the community college as a comprehensive institution; meaning that not only are there students who are in focused technical programs, but also students who have transferred. It’s a flagship organization for the system.

She is the Senior Compliance Director of Compliance and Accountability for Workforce Continuing Education. There is a lot of flexibility and variety in these programs. “We are on the frontline teaching students new skills and updating the skills of our returning students.” They are even working with high school students. Kimberly wears many hats and her compliance responsibilities are broad, requiring a great depth of regulatory knowledge.

Kimberly Blue

Career Development

Kimberly started as an internal auditor, and then advanced to Compliance Director. She earned oversight of the college’s many internal processes and realized that none of them were documented in writing. “As my job and oversight expanded, my responsibilities naturally expanded,” she explains, “and I realized that our standards of operation weren’t in existence, our risk management very siloed.” She realized that she needed to look for a higher education program that would develop her analytical skills as compliance matters expanded and became more part of her daily duties.

She was introduced to, and enrolled in, Seattle University’s online program in fall 2021 and began spring 2022. While there, she quickly started seeing real-world benefits. “As I engaged with professors, course content, the material, and my classmates, I learned so much that I could immediately start pushing that out into what I was doing. It wasn’t something I had to wait for at program completion. The resources I received and had access to in my coursework immediately started helping me in my job.

Post-Program Growth

Since finishing this program, Kimberly has gained an awareness of what she has accomplished within the last two years at Seattle U on top of her regular job duties. She was a lead on an audit recently, and much of what she learned in SU’s Risk Management and Internal Auditing class was very helpful. 

She knows that “All of the concepts, strategies, and tools that I was exposed to in the program have helped to strengthen what I do, including becoming a better legal writer.” She has to articulate regulatory requirements codified and set by the N.C. General Assembly. The communication skills developed in the MLS program have been valuable in that process., “How I present information has been improved since the program. How I communicate, from a compliance and regulatory standpoint, is important to my credibility.” 

She details that she learned how to advise, rather than tell, colleagues what she needs from them. “I’ve learned to step back and make recommendations based on the legal and binding sources I cite or provide. This gives others more confidence in my ability to submit useful information.

Accomplishments and Goals Achieved 

Kimberly is also a Title IX investigator. “The workplace investigations class that I took was so helpful,” she says. “ I also serve within other types of grievance processes at my institution and the tools I acquired during the course have been valuable.” 

A recent project has captured much of Kimberley’s attention. It began with research performed for the SU capstone, and led to her being asked to be on a committee at the state level to revise North Carolina’s state-wide code. “I’ve been asked to identify the ambiguity of our codified regulations and to help them be more relevant so that colleges can develop and write more effective compliance processes.” She is also developing a local training tool, a catchy way of visually putting out compliance reminders and ways to mitigate workplace risks.

Advice for Current and Prospective Seattle Students

She recommends that students do not think of SU’s online MLS in Compliance and Risk Management as just something to get through as a means to a higher degree. “This program is another exciting opportunity much like a new job,” she says, “And I mean that in a good way.” She admits that in the beginning, she was overwhelmed while getting familiar with the foundational concepts. “Then I realized,” she speaks of the lightbulb moment, “Embrace each assignment as a new learning opportunity.  Look at each, and how it adds value to your current job, career path, or based on the goals you’ve set.” Choose to think, “I’m going to learn a lot, and this will bring so much value to what I do. And get excited about it.” Take one lesson at a time, and budget for the time so you will get the most out of it. 

“For those already working in compliance, bring your professional and personal experiences into your work, into the learning space and process. I used many examples in education, and when we had flexibility with assignments – I picked those areas that interested me the most or those that I had some familiarity with. This approach helped me that first year; the best writers write based on what they know. Then, as I learned more, I expanded myself into other areas. I was excited to explore and apply what I was learning to other fields that interested me.”

There’s a lot of Room to Grow

You know what else is important to know about the program? “I had fun,” Kimberly says with a smile. “I enjoyed being a student again, and the time flew by.” As for her future, she recognizes that “there’s a lot of room to grow.” Changes may be on the horizon, but her colleagues are vocal about their appreciation for her and their hope that she’ll stay at Sandhills. She really enjoyed the legal research aspects of the program, and now she knows she could work in research in any capacity. 

As Kimberly lists some potential paths she could take, it’s clear that her continuing education at Seattle University has allowed for diverse and exciting opportunities. “My experience in this program has made me feel like I have a lot more to give. It instilled so much confidence. Don’t think twice about returning to school.”

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