First-generation Filipino Kimberly Gordon is the youngest of 11 children. At the age of 45, she became the first of her siblings to graduate from college.
“I’m an older student who wanted to achieve a goal and that goal was to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Anything gained through that journey is the key to my accomplishment,” she said.
Gordon spent most of her adult years working in the restaurant business. First she worked in her mother-in-law’s restaurant and then, for a year, she managed her own eatery. Gordon was pregnant with her third son when she enrolled at the Community College of Rhode Island. Today, her sons are 18, 12 and six, and she holds a B.S.W. degree from Rhode Island College.
Gordon said her passion is to help people – any and all people – in need. Through a social work internship at the Learning 4 Life center at RIC she was able to give that passion focus.
Her job title was navigator (peer mentor) and her work involved connecting students to both on- and off-campus resources to help ensure their success. Clients receive assistance with nonacademic barriers such as food and housing insecurity, access to basic needs and assistance in navigating the campus systems. According to RIC Director of Learning 4 Life Joise Garzon, Gordon excelled at helping students overcome barriers.
“Her passion is to speak life into students who are facing barriers,” said Garzon. “Her positive attitude and outlook on life is an inspiration not only to her peers but to staff. Seeing others succeed truly brings her happiness. She hopes to continue to work in higher education post-graduation so that she can continue to support, inspire, empower and serve students.”
If there’s a message Gordon would leave students it is never be dissuaded by the obstacles.
“I’ve been in school for six years,” she said. “I changed my major twice at CCRI. First I wanted to be a nurse and then I wanted to work in hospitality because I wanted to manage my own hotel. Now, I have a social work degree from Rhode Island College. As a social worker, I just want to go where I am needed most. I want to be that go-to person if you need help.”
Gordon is a recipient of the Bertha Christina Andrews Emin Award for outstanding achievement. This award is given to a woman member of the May graduating class who has distinguished herself by attaining an honors baccalaureate and by active leadership in student affairs.