Cashing in Hard Work for a College Education

College tuition is expensive. Even if parents start saving for their child’s college education the day they are born, they will likely still not have saved enough to pay for their child’s entire college education. Thus, figuring out how to pay for college can be difficult.

Karen Sears, a 2019 Tomball Memorial High School graduate, paired creativity and hard work to come up with a plan to pay for her college tuition at Sam Houston State University. She is working her way through her undergraduate education, but in a creative way.

“Last summer, our office received a letter through our fax machine from a student who was looking for a sponsor to help pay for her paralegal certificate,” says Paul Cannon, trial attorney and marketing director at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. “The letter explained she wanted to get her paralegal certificate so she could work while going to school to get experience in the field, because ultimately she wanted to attend law school.”

After graduating high school, Karen sent out hundreds of faxes to businesses looking for support. Paul didn’t respond to the first fax, but after receiving a similar one six months later noting her achievement of attaining her paralegal certificate, he felt God might be really trying to tell him something.

“I reached out and thought she could come work for us as a marketing assistant,” says Paul. “She turned the job down, but accepted a meeting with me to discuss the marketing of her online business.”

As another way to pay for her education, Karen started an online business where she sold wholesale goods. All while working at another part-time job at a dentist office, Karen built a website for the business, and ran the business from her parent’s home in Tomball.

“I offered to give her some advice on how to improve the website and marketing of her online business,” says Paul.

After the meeting Karen not only had a new direction for her business, but a mentor. Paul suggested instead of selling the products individually to package and market them as gift baskets. Karen took the idea and ran with it. The Christmas shopping season was gearing up and it ended up being the perfect opportunity for Karen to grow her online business.

Karen quickly made enough money to cover the cost of her next semester. She not only sold the gift baskets online, but also attended craft shows. During one show, Karen’s story picked up attention from a local television news outlet. Karen was interviewed on-camera at her booth, and the cameras drew even more customers.

“It ended up creating enough attention that the next day a Sam Houston State University alum got offered to help pay for her college tuition,” says Paul.

Even with the added support to cover costs, a college education has added expense of books, gas and other supplies, which she is still working to cover. Now into the spring, Karen is offering special gift baskets focused on the spring holidays, birthdays and other special events. A popular item is the student study basket. It comes with study supplies and snacks for friends and family to send to their college student away from home.

As for Karen, she is earning her criminal justice degree online so she can continue to work to pay for her education. She now has a new job though at Simmons and Fletcher as a marketing assistant. She is now able to gain experience in the field, run her business and attend school.

“When I offered her the job again, she accepted,” says Paul. “I’m glad she did. I can teach somebody marketing techniques and how to execute plans, but I can’t teach somebody to be as motivated as her.”

Through her business, It Pays My College Tuition, Karen has also been able to give back to others. During December and January, she was able to fundraise support to donate 32 gift baskets to children Texas Children’s Hospital. Karen was so moved by her experience at Texas Children’s Hospital she is now a volunteer.

“I never thought any of my faxes or my online business would get me this far,” says Karen, “but I am happy with the results.”

With her motivation, creativity and hard work, the future for Karen looks bright. It will be exciting to see what all she accomplishes as she continues to move forward in life. Learn more about Karen’s story and her business by visiting

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