Tasha Howle '09
If you enjoy using the new MetLife mobile app to find a dentist near you, thank Extended Campus-Internet graduate Tasha Howle '09. Tasha is far more than a Software Tester for MetLife though; she is the epitome of perseverance and a fierce competitor in the game of life.
She has survived a childhood in poverty, a week-long kidnapping ordeal, the anguish of teen pregnancy, abusive relationships, unfulfilling part-time jobs, and a decade as a full-time adult student. As she says about herself, "I grew up around the poverty line; mostly under it, sometimes on it, occasionally above it."
Her love and appreciation for education was instilled early in her childhood by her mother, who taught her to read and write when she was only two-years-old. "My mother's attitude was simply, 'if a child wants to learn, why not teach them?' By grade one, I was about four years ahead of my class," Tasha recalled, "My brother and I didn't have a lot growing up but the one thing we did have was quality time with our parents. My mother made the most of every minute by making everything a fun learning experience."
According to Tasha, it was her survival of being kidnapped by a pedophile who mentally and physically tortured her over the course of one week that all but derailed her dream of crossing the proverbial "poverty line" for good. Tasha shares, "The kidnapping was committed by someone I actually knew as an acquaintance. I was 14 at the time, and my mother had dropped me off close to my school. This man, who I thought I knew, kept me in a condemned building for about a week before I escaped. I paid close attention to when he would leave and realized that he was maintaining his daily life to the outside world. So one day while he was gone, I escaped through a window, found a pay phone and called home."
But that ordeal led, in Tasha's view, to another devastating one. "Women in abusive relationships often find themselves in similar situations. When I was 16, a man in his late 20s took advantage of me and the result was pregnancy," she said. "With what I had been through, there was no way I could be the mother that my daughter needed, so I found a family that could provide the loving atmosphere she deserved."
Learning, or more specifically a college education, would prove to be Tasha's ticket to a better life. "I was always told that a college education was the only way to a better life and I believed it," she said. "My daughter was born two months prematurely so, before giving her to a loving foster family, I promised her that I would graduate from college. I immediately focused on my education because 'it's the only way out,' the only way to a better life. Plus, I just love learning."
With her daughter safe in a happy and loving home, Tasha became focused solely on getting her college degree. "I really liked computers and heard it was a good-paying field so I pursued a degree in Web Design & Programming from Midlands Technical College (Columbia, SC). Sadly, there were no entry-level jobs so I completed an Associate of Arts to explore other fields."
Tasha then decided to expand her options through Limestone College's Extended Campus Internet program on the advice of a friend. "I wanted a college that was willing to work with my circumstances as an independent adult student," said Tasha. "I had been balancing a full time course-load with various jobs since day one. The more I read about Limestone's Internet program, the more it began to stand out like a shining star. The other colleges offered only some courses via the Internet or were 'for profit' institutions. But Limestone was different; a college with a long, reputable history with a program designed for the working adult." Tasha completed her Bachelor of Science degree entirely online, and graduated with cum laude honors. "Learning via the Internet suited me perfectly. I could learn at my own pace and didn't have to wait for the rest of my classmates to catch up," she said enthusiastically.
Tasha's perseverance was rewarded when she was hired for her current position. Lisa Edwards, Senior Project Testing Services Team (TeST) Lead for MetLife, vividly recalls Tasha's interview with the company, "We were hiring for someone who had just graduated from college and one of our questions was 'Where do you see yourself in five years?' Most of the applicants said something along the lines of wanting to have a new car by then or being in a new home. But Tasha said, and I'll never forget this, that she hoped to be celebrating her fifth anniversary with MetLife and be two or three years into paying her mortgage. That definitely stood out to me and the rest of our team. I am continually amazed by Tasha and am convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that we made a shrewd choice in hiring her. In our software offerings, we have to do all that we can to ensure that our products work correctly before they are available to the public. As a Tester, Tasha doesn't merely take a product and say 'this or that doesn't work.' Rather, she dissects the issues to make sure she understands the developer's intention thoroughly so as to fully understand why something is or is not working correctly."
Tasha Howle is living proof that anything is possible.