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UC Blue Ash Alumna Went From Struggling Student to “Forty Under 40” Honoree


Kara Sanders has never directed a movie or played in an NBA game, but she does have something in common with Steven Spielberg and Shaquille O’Neal. Like the famous movie director and hall of fame basketball player, Sanders also had second thoughts about earning her college degree, but, like them, she re-enrolled to finish what she started while enjoying a stellar career.

Sanders is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College and a distinguished alumnus of the college who recently added a prestigious new honor; she is among the young professionals named to the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Forty Under 40 honorees. This recognition is reserved for young professionals who truly stand out for exceptional accomplishments in their field.

None of this seemed possible when Sanders quit college shortly after enrolling at the University of Cincinnati. She felt the big campus and large classes were overwhelming and didn’t think she was ready. Sanders decided to pursue a full-time job instead, but it didn’t take her long to realize she was limiting her potential for a meaningful career by not pursuing a college degree. She heard about UC Blue Ash College and decided to give college another try.

“I chose UC Blue Ash because of the small class sizes and the personal attention I knew I would get,” says Sanders. “UC Blue Ash really gave me the encouragement and confidence that I needed. When I went back to college there, I felt like I belonged.”

Finding Academic and Professional Success
Sanders transitioned to the UC Uptown campus and completed her bachelor’s degree with honors in Spanish Language and Literature, as well as a Business Spanish Certificate. She joined Messer Construction in 2007 as the craftforce development coordinator. While working full time and finding success with the company, Sanders continued her education and earned her master’s degree in English in 2014.

Her talent, hard work and dedication allowed Sanders to advance in the company, leading to her current position as the craftforce education and development executive at Messer. In this role, she oversees the learning and development of more than 500 craft workers and promotes workforce development and inclusion in the construction trades.

Giving Back and Leading in her Community
Sanders is still very involved with UC Blue Ash. She participates in events at the college, serves as a member of the UC Blue Ash Alumni Council and has worked with students as an alumni mentor. Sanders has also led humanitarian trips to South America and has been recognized for her community service and leadership by a number of area organizations. Some of her accolades include her selection as a member of WE Lead at the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the Leader of Promise Award from the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, and recognition as a Rising Star by the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati.

Sanders offers inspiration for any students who might be struggling in school or unsure about whether they can succeed in college. “The past is over; there isn’t a thing you can do to change it so stop letting it dictate your future. Today you get to decide who you are and where you’re going. Don’t quit and don’t ever stop taking the next right step.”

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