“My career is successful because of my education,” Natalia Higgins told a crowd of more than 600 attending Friday’s awards luncheon at the 101st annual UPCEA Conference in San Diego.
It was the central message of her acceptance speech as she received the Outstanding Continuing Education Student Award, an annual honor given by the University Professional & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) to a student who achieves excellence in the pursuit of educational goals.
In 2014, shortly after earning her Executive MBA, Natalia enrolled in PayTrain® Fundamentals, the first course in our Payroll Certificate program. She went on to take and pass the Fundamental Payroll Certification exam, a national credential administered by the American Payroll Association.
As a result of her success, she was offered a promotion. Natalia currently serves as the director of Client Account Management at ADP, one of the world’s largest payroll companies.
“I commend her for her fortitude to take on a new challenging role with her company while also devoting many hours a week to attend and study the material for the class,” said her instructor, Lucinda Ramondetta, CPP, in a letter of recommendation for the award. “Natalia did an excellent job in the course and passed with confidence.”
Natalia was first recognized for this award at the regional level in 2015 by UPCEA South before being selected as the national winner this year.
“The experience has been amazing,” she said. “The most important thing to me is being able to be an example. My goal is to continue to inspire other students.”
Natalia said education is essential to career growth and success. And she’s still learning, too.
She will complete the Human Resources Management SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP Certificate by the end of April. Her next step after graduating will be to sit for the certification exam offered by the Society for Human Resource Management.
Her advice to individuals looking to reach their personal best?
“First, have your priorities straight,” she said. “Second, making time for yourself and your education will make you better — as an individual and a professional.”