For Hippe, Commencement is just the start of something new

Friends. That’s what Joyce Hippe had to sacrifice — temporarily — to earn a bachelor’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from University College in Arts & Sciences.

“Really, you just have to give up your social life,” says Hippe, a mother of six who works full-time as a credit controller at Thomson Reuters and part-time at Tall Girl at West County Mall. “There’s just not enough time in the day.”

Her daughter Sarah Tesreau, who worked full-time while earning a bachelor’s degree in managerial economics from UCollege, agrees. “I am liking my social time now after not having it for three years,” says Sarah, who completed her degree in December.

Joyce Hippe and her daughter Sarah Tesreau attended University College, along with another daughter, Kelly Tesreau (not pictured). Joyce and Sarah will walk together during Commencement.

University College has been a family affair for Hippe, who graduates May 16. Another daughter, Kelly Tesreau, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and psychology at UCollege. The three women carpooled to school and studied together at the library on Saturdays — though they each specialized in different areas.

For Hippe, industrial and organizational psychology was a perfect major because of her interest in “how people interact and how to better manage work groups.”

“I wanted to learn something that I could bring back to the office and contribute,” Hippe says. “It’s an excellent skill set for management as well.”

Hippe didn’t always have her eye on management. While growing up, she wanted most to become a mom. After graduating from Eureka High School in Eureka, Mo., in 1981, she took a few classes at St. Louis Community College-Meramec. But before she could transfer to a four-year college, she got married and had Sarah. Three years later, she had Kelly, and then four years later, another daughter, Allison.

In 1995, with her children in school all day, Hippe decided she, too, would go to school at the University of Missouri-

St. Louis to earn a degree in special education. While at UMSL, she got a job as a financial analyst at Broadstripe, a cable company.

It was an odd career choice for a woman without much of a financial background. But the more Hippe worked in finance, the more she saw it was the right direction for her.

“I didn’t have a degree in finance or accounting, but I just had aptitude for it,” Hippe says. “Broadstripe took a chance on me, but I knew the manager, and she knew my capabilities. I learned the job quickly and really enjoyed it.”

University College in Arts & Sciences

Still, thoughts of her uncompleted degree nagged at her, and, in fall 2005, she enrolled at University College, where she was introduced to Diane Willis, coordinator of undergraduate advising and student services. Hippe quickly impressed Willis with her curiosity and her drive.

“Joyce is strongly motivated, serious and determined,” Willis says. “She took two evening classes every semester until this final one, when she enrolled in nine hours; that’s where her organizational skills and self-discipline really kicked in!”

It was either take nine hours this semester, Hippe says, or wait until the next spring to graduate. She chose the former, and after “four months of hell,” she says, laughing, she finally has her degree.

“A finished degree makes all the difference,” says Hippe, who last week was inducted into Alpha Sigma Lambda, an honor society for evening college students. “I’ve proven myself capable and always done well in positions that I’ve had, but I felt that not having my degree finished was holding me back.”

“Now, I can apply for higher positions with confidence,” she says.

For the summer, Hippe will enjoy plenty of precious free time with her friends and her husband, Bob, a lab mechanic in the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences.

But she doesn’t plan on getting too used to just “hanging out.” Starting in the fall, Hippe will take classes in both Spanish and French, two languages that will prove useful in her job at Thomson Reuters, a company with clients around the globe.

“Every time I take a class, it sparks my interest in something else,” Hippe says.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be finished with school completely. There’s so much to learn,” she says.