Brenda Lee Cox’s back-toschool story is atypical. After being out of the traditional work force so she could raise her daughter as a stayat-home mom, the Scottsdale woman believed it was necessary to continue her education and update her job skills.
Cox thought she was so out of touch that she needed to get a college education to pursue her dream as a human resources specialist.
She worked full-time at Spooner Physical Therapy in Scottsdale while attending the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University to complete in 16 months an undergraduate degree in business management in December 2003.
She then worked full- and part-time — at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital — while using the University of Phoenix online program four to five hours per night for her Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in human resources.
Cox, 49, maintained a hectic schedule for 4 1 /2 years and graduated with a 4.0 grade point average at ASU and, in July, graduated from the University of Phoenix with a 3.98 GPA.
“It was a lot different,” Cox said. “I hadn’t been in high school for over 20 years. But I just realized that if you want to get ahead in the business world, you have to have an education. Some experience is fine, but you need the degrees.
“I made a decision to not settle for anything less than the best and to put my whole heart into what I wanted to accomplish.”
Before returning to school, Cox worked in all aspects of business, gaining as much knowledge as she could and performing functions related to accounting, payroll, marketing, sales, budgets and capital expenditures, management, and all human resourcerelated functions.
She believes her degrees, as well as her experience, give her a well-rounded and comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the business world and a greater appreciation for that knowledge.
Cox has worked at Spooner, where she’s director of human resources, sine 1990. She plans to become professional human resources certified by taking the national exam sometime next year.
“Getting the degrees wasn’t really that difficult,” Cox said. “The most difficult thing was to be actively working while I was in school. I had a full schedule.”
Cox said she was usually up at 5 or 6 a.m., working 8 to 10 hours at Spooner and until around 1:30 a.m. several nights at Scottsdale Osborn.
“On the two nights I didn’t work, I’d do school projects and research,” Cox said. I’d get a few hours of sleep a night. Sometimes, I’d stay up the entire night for up to two or three days. It was challenging, but something I really wanted to do.”
Cox said a burning desire to achieve her goal kept her going through school, work and those long days.
“If you have a dream, go after it,” Cox said. “Get an education, whatever or however you have to do. It’s so important. I really can’t emphasize that enough. It’s never to late to accomplish your dreams.”