Cheri Howard had it all. A beautiful family, boundless ambition and a great job with a Nebraska police department.
She thought she would retire as the department’s commander of front-end operations and see her kids off to college. But then a merger happened, and she lost her job of 26 years.
“It was debilitating, honestly,” she said. “For a while, I felt like a fish out of water. I did not have a clear path and wondered if I was going to be able to survive it.”
Cheri would not only survive, but she’d eventually thrive in a new retail career at Best Buy. But it took a little time — and a relocation to Iowa — to get there.
An uphill battle
At 49 years old, Cheri started applying for jobs where she could use her leadership, people and problem-solving skills. She hoped that employers would find value in her three decades of dedicated work. Instead, she hit a big roadblock.
“I realized, first of all, that it’s really competitive,” she said. “And I did not have a college degree, which meant I could not even apply for hundreds of positions.”
Cheri thought her dreams of college and a rewarding career were out of reach, until she landed a job as a front-end supervisor at the Best Buy store in Sioux City, Iowa, where she and her husband had moved for his job.
“I had not considered working in retail or with technology before, but everything fell into place,” she said. “After I came on board with Best Buy, I learned about the company’s tuition reimbursement program. And with it, I could finally tackle that one obstacle that I had been suffering with for years.”
Cheri had always wanted to pursue college, but life got in the way. She joined the U.S. Army Reserves right after high school. Then, she raised a family while working full-time. Last year, she finally had the time to get back into the classroom.
Making the grade
Cheri enrolled at Purdue University Global as a part-time student and is pursuing a degree in business management while working full-time.
At 55, her ambition is as strong as ever. She made the chancellor’s list with a 4.0 GPA and hopes to graduate by the spring of 2020. When she’s done, she plans to continue working with Best Buy.
“Honestly, it makes me a little teary-eyed. It will be one of the final missing puzzle pieces in my life and in my dream,” Cheri said. “Even more so, it will represent to my children and my family that you will hit obstacles in life, but if you buckle down and connect with support systems, you can achieve what you might not have imagined before.”
Best Buy offers tuition discounts and resources for all employees. Click here to learn more about careers at Best Buy.