Alumni Profile – Fatimah “Betty” Southall

July 2, 2018

Some people complete their college degree on their first try, straight out of high school – but for Betty Southall, this was not the case. After two failed attempts in higher education, she finally found her best fit at Chatfield College. Overcoming many obstacles along the way, Betty is a success after completing her associate degree at Chatfield in just less than four years.

Betty first heard about Chatfield through her mother who had been a part of the non-profit organization ACT. Chatfield had previously been in collaboration with this program, offering classes at its Cincinnati location. Since her mother had worked there, she was able to learn more about Chatfield while growing up.

When Betty graduated from high school, she made her first attempt at college. At the age of 17, she began her education at University of Cincinnati, but had to drop out after the heartbreaking death of her father. She then attempted college again at Cincinnati State, but once again, it did not go as planned. She decided to give college a try one more time and enrolled at Chatfield College, where she was determined to finish school this time around.  Her first semester at Chatfield was also delayed, when she experienced issues with her financial aid application, after filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (“FAFSA”). She now believes that taking that semester off was a blessing because she ultimately needed thyroid surgery shortly after her classes would have begun. So in 2013, she enrolled at Chatfield once again, and this time it was for the long-haul.

During her time at Chatfield, Betty took on any opportunity that was available that would help her pay her tuition and fees. She started out working in the financial aid office, eventually leading to a fellowship within that department. She was also involved in a work study program where she cleaned bathrooms at the Chatfield Over-the-Rhine campus. Although it was a tough job, she now refers to the experience as a character building exercise for which she is grateful.

It took Betty a little longer than most to get through her degree requirements at Chatfield. During one school year, she struggled to complete her schoolwork after the passing of her grandmother. Heartbroken and unable to focus, she did not pass a couple of the required classes that semester. But she was relentless, and determined to continue her education. Betty eventually earned her degree in 2017.

Just prior to her last semester at Chatfield, Betty inquired at Senator Sherrod Brown’s Cincinnati office about volunteering. She was soon contacted about an available internship, and shortly after, landed the job. After a few months at her internship, she found out about an open position in Senator Brown’s office as a staff assistant. With her previous experience working in a political government office under Councilman Wendell Young and her recent internship with Senator Brown, she had a leg up on other applicants and got the job. At her new position, Betty oversees approximately thirty people per year and is also the intern coordinator, after only nine months on the job!

“Build a strong relationship with God and listen to what God wants to use you for. You will eventually end up in a great position if you follow His path. I have had the best luck in order to get where I am today, and everyone else can have that too if they have faith,” said Betty.

After multiple attempts at college, Betty was finally able to finish school at Chatfield and for that, she is forever grateful. She mentioned that if it were not for the compassionate faculty and the financial opportunities that Chatfield had provided her, she might not have ever finished college.

Betty wants to eventually earn her Bachelor’s degree in economics from Cincinnati Christian University and continue her career in politics.  We will most certainly be hearing again from Betty Southall.

Posted in