What a Thing Chronicles: Chapter 12

2018 is about to take a bow, but don’t worry! I’m not going to get all mushy on you with resolutions and affirmations… yet.

It’s the holiday season. Of course, that means driving by homes that are literally lit, Magic 95.5 playing Christmas music 24/7, sales, sales, sales on sales, overeating, and holiday movies!

I like Christmas movies because there’s always some element of magic, the impossible or unexpected – overt or covert. Remember that part in Home Alone when we see the neighbor reconnecting with his estranged son? Didn’t your heart just melt a little? Okay, what about when John McClane saves the

Denise facetimes with Holly, Sara and Sarah

day in Die Hard? Every Christmas, my family watches Die Hard. Check it out – you get to see Alan Rickman before he became the iconic Prof. Snape. Also, in Christmas movies, someone in the movie always says, “But it’s Christmas,” “Where’s your Christmas spirit,” or “Don’t be a grinch.” When it’s Christmas time, anything can happen. Even PelotonU got its Christmas miracle. It was a miracle six months in the making. This is the story of how Denise Bell earned her Bachelor’s degree in six months.


T’was about six months before Christmas. Denise Bell walked into our office with her totally rad Hello Kitty purse looking to earn her bachelor’s degree by way of Western Governors University. From the beginning, she brought palpable excitement and motivation to our office. In addition, she set the goal to finish quickly. Finishing a bachelor’s in less  than a year takes more than just “wanting to.” It requires determination and focus. How do you maintain such incredible determination and momentum? Denise tells me via email:

Impressing my CCA’s with my speed definitely helped. I also set little reward milestones to treat myself like getting a massage or buying a new Hello Kitty purse.”

Esther in the Christmas spirit!

Okay, impress your CCA and lots of Hello Kitty purses. I say lots of Hello Kitty purses because Denise hit all types of milestones crazy fast – Sara always had a new update for us. ALWAYS.

Beep, beep, back it up, Ashley. Where do I begin? Maybe you’re reading this and thinking about restarting, maybe this is all new to you or you’re trying to convince someone in your life that this is the perfect pathway to earn a degree. Denise offers this advice on that very question:

“Just start. It’s scary at first, but you will have this amazing team if people supporting you the entire way.”

You have to start, and it will be scary. That’s the truth. However, you will not be alone. You will have an amazing CCA with you every little step of the way with the entire PelotonU community supporting and cheering you on. How amazing is that?!

Anita rocking her Christmas sweater

Believe me, I’m not trying to be cheesy here. Honestly! PelotonU is like that town or character in the Christmas movie that believes. Believes that anything can happen. Believes that you’re going to make it on time for Christmas. Believes that the Christmas pageant is going to be the best ever. And of course, believes in you. Denise says

“The thing I love most about PelotonU is easily the people. It always felt so good to walk in the door and have people literally cheering for me. The support has been incredible. I was especially lucky to have 2 awesome CCA’s (Holly and Sara) cheering the loudest.”

The Place that Believed in Degrees – how’s that for a movie title? Okay, okay, it needs work.

Denise Bell completed 3 ½ years worth of coursework in exactly six months – not because it was easy, but because that’s the power of competency-based education: if you can truly learn it that quickly, you can move on to the next skills. She transferred in just 15 credits. She gained a degree and a lot of Hello Kitty purses. What did PelotonU gain? Well, let Denise tell you in her own words,

“PelotonU has a permanent cheerleader in me. I will proudly spread the word about the wonderful work they do. I love the team so much. They really feel like family.”

Esmerelda and her daughter Aurora

Welp, folks, that’s the story of PelotonU’s Christmas miracle!  Don’t stop here. Keep reading for more miracles! 

  • Kevin G and Juan both earned their associate degrees. Three cheers for them and their major accomplishment!
  • Itzel S-M and Vanessa M-A both have 30 competencies completed!!=
  • Ashley L has mastered 60 competencies already!
  • Karen K has 64 competencies done in her bachelor’s!
  • Kaitlin A has 76 competencies mastered!
  • Sheila M, Adriana M and Valeria M-G are beyond the 60 competencies mark with 72, 73 and 75 competencies done!
  • Cori M has mastered 91 comps in her bachelor’s!
  • Vanessa L  has completed 96 comps!
  • Josue M has 116 competencies under his belt!
  • Jorge M-R has completed has 110 competencies!
  • Cyndi G, Karen K, and Kat M are plugging away together on the Lead a Team goal! Who says teamwork can’t be functional and  beautiful?
  • Toni G and Kat M both mastered projects on the first try.
  • Javier is at 50% of his bachelor’s degree!!

What a thing.

In other words, happy holidays! May your days be merry, bright and full of mastered projects! 

Until the next time.

Cheering for you,

Ashley + the PelotonU Team