“It is important to always continue learning, and obtaining a college education will allow you to reach dreams and set goals that you would never be able to reach otherwise.”
A busy executive recognized as one of SAVOY magazine’s “Top 100 Influential Women in Corporate America,” April Kelly-Drummond may not appear to fit the profile of a non-traditional student. However, like many of her cohorts, Kelly-Drummond had long deferred a personal dream, one that would allow for her to enhance her professional growth.
Kelly-Drummond began her academic career at South Carolina State University, completing two years of study before transferring to the College of Charleston. It was while attending the CofC that family circumstances caused her to face a difficult decision: choosing between her passion for learning, and her desire to help others. Kelly-Drummond opted for the latter, and placed her studies on hold, returning home to care for her father.
While aspiring to one day complete her bachelor’s degree, Kelly-Drummond joined the Denny’s corporation as an executive assistant to the company’s Chief Diversity Officer. She spent significant time assisting with diversity initiatives at Denny’s, Inc., and over the course of 20 years, rose through the ranks to her current role as Director of Diversity Affairs and Multicultural Engagement. Kelly-Drummond retained her passion for knowledge, and continually sought out new learning experiences: a search that led her back to the College of Charleston, and the Bachelor of Professional Studies program.
Pursuing a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Management, Kelly-Drummond found that the course material immediately contributed to her professional growth: “The classes allowed me to have open dialogue on subjects (where) I needed a better understanding, and to obtain best approaches to implement (my) learnings.” She was particularly interested in enhancing her knowledge of diversity training theory, and - in coordination with CofC professor Graeme Coetzer - began work on a project that would have positive implications for the community at-large. Kelly-Drummond brought Denny’s Inc. on board to co-sponsor, “Advancing Diversity and Inclusion: Building Successful Organizations and Communities:” a conference that drew over 200 attendees. Describing the event as “a wonderful experience,” Kelly-Drummond cannot understate the value of this unique opportunity, both academically and professionally. “My goal was to apply my learnings to impact my job and the community,” she says, “I was able to achieve this goal by participating in the evolution of the CofC’s (diversity) event.”
April Kelly-Drummond’s life experience may seem exceptional, but she hopes to serve as an example for anyone who is striving to better themselves: “It is important to always continue learning, and obtaining a college education will allow you to reach dreams and set goals that you would never be able to reach otherwise.” Kelly-Drummond still has dreams of her own yet to reach - she plans to begin graduate studies in the Fall - and hopes to have the opportunity to share her wealth of knowledge with others.