Degree Completion

Bellarmine Degree Completion Program allows BU dad to finish what he started

Student Success

Craig Smith had amassed 150 credit hours between a community college and the University of Cincinnati and was within a few classes from earning his bachelor’s degree when his life abruptly changed course.

He went through a divorce and was awarded custody of his young daughter, Laurynn Smith, and he could no longer afford to be a fulltime student. He dropped out of college and picked up two jobs.  

Fast forward some 20 years later, Craig has built a successful career in human resources and banking in Northern Kentucky, but he’s always had an itch to finish what he started. He wants a degree, for a personal sense of fulfillment and to advance his career.  

“I just didn’t want to start over; I had so many credit hours,” Craig said. 









When Laurynn enrolled this year at Bellarmine as a first-year student, he found, as an empty-nester, he had more time on his hands he could use to do classwork. His employer has a tuition reimbursement program. It seemed like the time was right to return to school. He was exploring options when he discovered Bellarmine’s Degree Completion Program. It was serendipitous.  

He called to inquire and was on the phone with Laura Hartford, associate dean of the Bellarmine College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Degree Completion Program, for about 30 minutes. He found that he could transfer nearly all his credits and the Organizational Leadership track was a good fit for his career experience and interests.  

He put in an application that day.  

“I couldn’t have asked for a smoother or easier application process,” Craig said. “It couldn’t have been more seamless. It was much more approachable than some of the bigger universities, where I’d first looked and experienced lots more bureaucracy.” 

“Now, my goal is to push along try to get a master’s,” he said. “That will open many more doors.”  









Even though classes are online, he’ll still visit campus to take advantage of available resources and to see his daughter, Laurynn, who is studying Psychology and Vocal Performance. Laurynn, who looked at colleges across the region, chose Bellarmine after her financial aid package made it affordable for her. 

“So far, for both of us, it’s been very smooth,” Craig said.  

Craig said he couldn’t be prouder that Laurynn made the Dean’s List this fall. 

“It's been a great first semester,” he said. 

Tags: Degree Completion



Located in the historic Highlands neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, Bellarmine University is a vibrant community of educational excellence and ethical awareness that consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities. Our students pursue an education based in the liberal arts – and in the distinguished, inclusive Catholic tradition of educational excellence, the oldest and most rewarding in the western world. It is a lifelong education, worthy of the university’s namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and of his invitation to each of us to learn and live In Veritatis Amore – in the love of all that is beautiful, true and good in life.