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Kim Corker '09: Social Welfare Degree a Testament to Hard Work, Family Support

May 11, 2009

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Kim Corker is a caseworker for Schenectady County's Office of Children and Family Services.

Kim Corker is a caseworker for the Schenectady County Office of Children and Family Services. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

Graduate student Kim Corker had seven important reasons to finish her master's degree in social work: Dominique, Diamond, Christian, Jazmyne, Aaron, Melvin, and Jada. When Corker crosses the stage at Commencement from the University at Albany on May 16, her husband Melvin, a full-time state corrections officer, and all seven children will be watching proudly.

Corker has been going to graduate school part-time for two and a half years, caring for a new baby, and working full-time as a caseworker for the Schenectady County Office of Children and Family Services.

"To see this dream accomplished is a testimony that hard work, God's grace along with the support of family, friends, academic peers, staff, teachers, professors, and my employer can overcome many obstacles," she said.

"Kim Corker is an exceptional model in perseverance and in juggling so many roles along with being a caseworker," said School of Social Welfare Dean Katharine Briar-Lawson.

It hasn't been easy for Corker, who graduated from UAlbany in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in African American studies.

"The greatest obstacle was in my first year," said Corker. She was pregnant and miscarried at five months. A few months later, she had surgery. After recovering, she worked all day before heading to an evening internship, finally arriving home by 9 p.m.

The Corker family

Kim Corker, left, will graduate on May 16 with a master's degree in social work. Her entire family, including husband Melvin, far right, and seven children, will be in attendance.

Corker credits her husband with shouldering the lion's share of household responsibilities. The children are sons Dominique, 15; Diamond, 12; and Christian, 9; daughter Jazmyne, 7; sons Aaron, 5, and Melvin "Jeriah," 3; and baby girl Jada, five months. Dad takes the children to their sports practices and games, cooks, cleans, buys the groceries and does no small feat for a family of nine the laundry. The children do their chores and make their own lunches. The older boys help the younger children with homework.

Her family attends Rehoboth Ministries Full Gospel Church, where they are on the worship team: she is lead vocalist and music director; her husband plays keyboard; and son Dominique, the drums.

"My desire to get this degree was the energy that kept me going every semester along with encouragement from others," said Corker, who is as full of long-term plans as she is determination.

After graduation, she plans to work as a licensed M.S.W. before eventually returning to get her doctoral degree.

"In this economy, people may have to obtain more education to broaden their job opportunities," said Corker. "Some people over the age of 30 with children and a job may have to return to college. I want people to know they can go after their dreams even with a daily job and family responsibilities." She added, "This is a significant event in the Corker family. I want my children to watch this event. I want them to remember this day and become encouraged to pursue their dreams."

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