The WSU program helps women earn a degree in human resource management.
Shu Schiller, Ph.D., professor of information systems and associate dean of the College of Business, said Sani is a great example of how students can benefit from the business graduation program.
“She is determined to finish and takes two or three classes each term while working full time,” Schiller said. “At work, she is involved in HR tasks, so her study is relevant and can be applied right away.”
Sani grew up in Dayton, the youngest of seven children. Her late father, Curtis Barnes Sr., a Wright State graduate who served in the U.S. Air Force, was a retired art teacher at Sinclair Community College and an artist whose paintings have been exhibited locally and in all the countries.
After graduating in 1991 from the Patterson Career Center, during which time she interned at General Motors Corp., Sani enrolled at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University in Greensboro, North Carolina, to study electrical engineering.
In 1996, she transferred to Wright State to continue her education, but a year later left school to start raising a family. She then landed a job as a customer service representative at Victoria’s Secret call center in Kettering, which led to a 25-year career that continues to this day.
In 2015, Sani’s sister, Denise Barnes, a former Wright State student who had always urged Sani to return to college for her degree, died of cancer.
“When she passed away, I felt a surge,” Sani said.
So she returned to Wright State, this time to pursue a bachelor’s degree in human resource management.
“Not just doing it for me but also for her,” said Sani, who also hopes to inspire her 24-year-old son, Myles Harbison, to return to college.
“I just want to prove to him and others that it’s never too late to go back to school,” she said. “I may not have done things the conventional way, but I’m not ashamed to say that I’m 48 and I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved and I look forward to it. looking forward to the next steps/chapters of my life.”
Sani, who has a 3.28 GPA, said she is more focused and determined to graduate now than she was when she started college. And she is grateful for the support she receives at Wright State.
“I love the teachers. All the teachers I’ve had have been brilliant – friendly, helpful and open politics. I make sure they get to know me,” she said. “And if I need help, I know she’s there.”
Funding for the Business Degree Completion Program comes from the AES Ohio Foundation, formerly The Dayton Power and Light Foundation. It takes care of scholarships, scheduling, tutoring, and public transportation expenses.
A recent analysis of US Census data shows that between 25,000 and 30,000 residents of the Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area are between the ages of 25 and 45 and have at least 50% of the credits needed for a bachelor’s degree.
The gap between the average annual income of people with some college experience but no degree and those with a bachelor’s degree in commerce exceeds $25,000. For someone who goes back to college and earns a Bachelor of Commerce degree, the projected increase in total income over 30 years is almost $560,000.
Sani works at Victoria’s Secret as a seasonal human resources specialist, helping recruit new workers.
“I love it when I offer someone a job and they’re super excited,” she said. “You really change someone’s life.”
Sani said the company provides opportunities for advancement and influenced her to pursue human resource management as a major. She hopes to stay with the company and that her degree will help her advance her career.
But she also plans to pursue a master’s degree in business administration and then study and achieve her career goal in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“I love helping others and making sure everyone is accepted and given equal opportunities in the job market,” she said. “I want to be their voice.”