Kim Corker is a wife, a mother of seven children, a caseworker for Schenectady County and now, a recipient of a master’s degree in social work.
Corker was one of 934 people who received graduate-level degrees from the University at Albany during a Saturday ceremony at the SEFCU Arena. Undergraduate degrees were awarded on Sunday.
Corker said Sunday she was still trying to come down from the happiness she experienced the day before. “I was just so excited and overjoyed, just ecstatic,” she said.
Completing the degree program was a labor of love and required her to balance family life, her full-time job with the Schenectady County Office of Children and Family Services and her role as a worship team leader for Rehoboth Ministries Full Gospel Church in Schenectady.
“It’s a lot to juggle. When you want something, you just go with the flow. You do it; things will fall into place,” she said in a previous interview on Friday.
Corker graduated from UAlbany in 1992 with a degree in African-American studies. She said she decided to enhance her education because she wanted to broaden her knowledge to get more into the management side of social welfare.
“You have to have credentials in order to be able to create or implement any effective policies or procedures … to help the socially and economically disadvantaged,” she said.
She started taking some social work classes in 2006 and was accepted to the master’s program in the fall of 2007. Corker credited her faith and support from her husband, Melvin, a full-time state corrections officer, in helping her through the process.
“He has been such a blessing. He does everything in the house — the laundry, the groceries. He takes the kids to the sporting events,” she said.
Her church has stood behind her and she said her employer has been very flexible in allowing her to take some day classes.
Corker said the most difficult part was during her first year in the program when she suffered a miscarriage. A few months later she had surgery. At that same time, she was also doing an internship and remembered arriving home at 9 p.m. with lots of reading and writing to do.
School officials praised Corker’s determination.
“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 in a statement.
Looking on proudly at the ceremony were Melvin and her seven children — 15-year-old Dominique, 12-year-old Diamond, 9-year-old Christian, 7-year-old Jazmyne, 5-year-old Aaron, 3-year-old Melvin Jeriah and newborn Jada, 5 months.
Corker said she is going to stay with the county for awhile and may go to the state Office of Children and Family Services. She would also like to get her Ph.D.
“I’m glad it’s over,” she said. “I’m really excited about it because it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and to finally get it done is great.”