Keima Sheriff, Organizational Systems

Photograph of Keima Sheriff

Keima Sheriff

Organizational Systems Student

"There are things I need to make happen in my education," says Keima Sheriff.

Keima owns her own consulting firm, and it has a mission: to teach businesses how to thrive by making their employees a priority.

It can be done, she says: it's all about balance.

"A lot of the time consultants go in and try to fix an organization while ignoring its human parts," she says. "So consultants will go in and create all kinds of systems and tools to deal with absenteeism or reduced productivity without ever noticing that the business is, say, primarily female and the women are also parents or caregivers who are struggling to create balance. We try to find what balance looks like for the individual and the organization and create a workable relationship between employees' personal and professional lives. I'm trying to grow businesses while growing individuals."

It's a balance Keima has to deal with in her own life as a mother who's devoted to both her career and her son. She needed a PhD to grow her own business: how could she add graduate school to the mix while staying personally balanced?

Saybrook's distance learning program offered the answer – but that's not why Keima applied. She applied because Saybrook's humanistic approach is crucial to the work she was doing. This was a school where she can learn something meaningful, and that made all the difference.

"While I could have gone to programs close to my home, none of them offered a humanistic approach," she says. "None put the human being at the center."

The experience of being at the center of her own education has been transformative: Keima says Saybrook's given her a whole new set of tools for her business even as it's helped her evolve personally.

"There was a time when it was very hard for me to believe that anybody would want to hear what I had to say," she recalls. "But now I'm getting past that, and not only understanding it but embracing it as something I need to understand for my work professionally. It's amazing: it feels not just like a change, but like evolution. I'm at this place where I'm digging that I have some really cool gifts, and that's huge for me. Before, if I could blend into the bland paint, I would."

She's taken full advantage of Saybrook's emphasis on individual learning, and helped design several new areas of the curriculum based on her own workplace experiences. "I've had an opportunity now to create two independent study programs – and both of them are leading to potential courses. It's a great opportunity to be in control of my learning. That's just crucial for me – and Saybrook's made that possible."