Mankato Human Resources Graduate Changes Course For The Better

cliftonhrstudentRecent Mankato Human Resources grad Derek Clifton didn’t have to return to school. In fact, he already had a degree and a steady job. However, after pursuing a career in music education Clifton found he was ready to make a change.

“As I pursued that career I realized it was taking the fun out of music and I even found myself no longer enjoying music because of it,” Clifton said.

The transition back to school

After spending time working for the Taylor Corporation in Mankato as a customer service representative coach, Clifton says he realized a career in the Human Resources field is something that genuinely interests him. To pursue that field, however, would require Clifton to make a leap of faith.

“I was a little afraid at first to go back to school. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to maintain working full time and taking a full class load,” said Clifton. “But it was just a matter of me taking that step and holding myself accountable.”

Once Clifton made that first step, the transition back to academic work came fairly easy to him. The structure of Clifton’s online courses allowed him to plan ahead and budget his time away from work. Knowing what to expect on a daily basis even provided some motivation for him, he said.

“By knowing that I had a lot to do, with multiple tasks to focus on between work and school [it] allowed me to prioritize what needs to be done each day,” Clifton said. “Having that daily list of things to do kind of motivated me in a way.”

While his first degree might not have been obviously conducive to a career in HR, it did help pave the way in the long term. By taking advantage of Rasmussen College’s AcceleratED degree program, Clifton was able to start his Human Resources and Organizational Leadership degree with approximately half of the credits he needed already completed.

Leadership opportunity at Rasmussen College

Not only did Clifton make a smooth transition back into his academic career, he excelled. Clifton’s academic achievement eventually helped lead him to being chosen as a representative for the Rasmussen Leadership Academy group at the Mankato campus. The group met weekly to discuss leadership activities, styles and methods. Additionally, the group planned events to raise money for local charities.

“My biggest takeaway from the group was just getting a chance to see how other people lead activities and their method of thinking,” said Clifton. “I was able to see what works well for them and will be able to use those methods in the future.”

An inspiration leads to a degree

Clifton credits his partner of seven years for giving him the extra push needed to improve himself and make the transition to earning his second degree.

“He really wanted me to get back to school last August, and wouldn’t let me be lazy or complacent about things,” said Clifton.

Unfortunately, Clifton’s partner never got the chance to see him graduate after passing away suddenly in January 2013. Clifton knew going into the relationship that his partner was terminally ill and had been prepared for the worst, but the end came quicker than he could have imagined.

“He got sick and just thought he had the flu. By the time he realized it was something more the sickness was much worse than it appeared,” said Clifton. “He was only in the hospital for 24 hours before passing away.”

However, the passing of his partner didn’t break Clifton’s spirit. In fact, the inspiration provided by his partner helped Clifton graduate on time with a 3.9 GPA, a feat that provides a glimmer of hope out of an otherwise heartbreaking experience.

“By that time I was halfway through the program so I decided then that I had to finish what I started, not only for me but for him as well,” said Clifton.

His vision for his career

Now that Clifton has graduated, he hopes to land a position in HR and pass on the knowledge he’s gained through his life experiences.  Clifton says he would like to provide transparency and make sure employees are engaged with what the business is doing

“I think making sure employees understand why a business does what it does is important,” said Clifton. “Obviously there are things that are on a need-to-know basis but I’d want to be as transparent as possible and make sure to clearly communicate with an organization’s employees.”

Though Clifton has a vision for what he would like to do as a human resources professional right now, he still has long term plans to pursue a master’s degree as well.

Share your story

If you have a success story from your tenure at Rasmussen College and would like to share it, please email me at or feel free to leave a comment below.

External links provided on are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Will is a Content Marketing Specialist at Collegis Education. He researches and writes student-focused articles on a variety of topics for Rasmussen College. He is passionate about learning and enjoys writing engaging content to help current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.

Receive Personalized Information Today

  • Personalized financial aid
  • Customized support services
  • Detailed program plan
  • Attend a no-obiligation Nursing Information Session
  • Meet the Dean of Nursing
  • Enrollment application
  • Personalized financial aid
  • Career path guidance

What would you like to study?

How may we contact you?

Please complete all fields

By requesting information, I authorize Rasmussen College to contact me by email, phone or text message at the number provided.

Share Your Story Ideas
Our campuses and online community have stories to tell and we want to hear them! Did your campus raise the most money in the community for an organization? Do you have online study tips for other students? Would you like to share a personal success story about overcoming an obstacle while earning your degree?
To have your story idea considered:
  • You must be a faculty member, current student or graduate
  • Story ideas must be regarding Rasmussen College or an inspiring story about a student at Rasmussen College
  • Your submission must be original and may not have been published elsewhere online already
Please Note: Your story idea may be featured on the Rasmussen College News Beat or on one of our social networks. A member of our news team will contact you should we move forward with a blog post.
Feel free to suggest an idea for a blog post to be featured on the Rasmussen College News Beat by filling out the form below:

First Name: (required)

Last Name: (required)

Email Address: (required)

Phone Number: (required)

500 characters or less


Your Story Idea Has Been Submitted

Thank you for sending us a story idea! We’re reviewing submissions and may contact you soon to learn more about your story. In the meantime, make sure to check out our current blogs to see what’s happening on campus.