Like Mother, Like Son

Kelli Plath’s passion for helping others—and entrepreneurial drive—burns brightly even during tough economic times, leading her to return to school.

Kelli Plath, a single mother and San Francisco State University business major, will proudly graduate this May, alongside her son, William Baldwin who is graduating with a degree in psychology.In 2008, Plath lost her daytime job while struggling to maintain her side business: assisting friends and small businesses with bookkeeping.

“I worked with the two clients I had, but building a business in the market then was next to impossible.” Plath went through an exhaustive series of job interviews and applicant tests, but responses were the same: “I’m sorry, you’re overqualified” or “A degree is required.” It was obvious, years of bookkeeping experience was not enough to compete with other qualified applicants.

What began as a few evening accounting classes turned into Plath completing two honors courses, two certificates, and an AA degree with honors by spring 2014. The 4.0 student’s academic success did not stop there. It wasn’t until Plath’s divorce from her husband of 24 years that she decided to return to her hometown of Half Moon Bay in order to pursue her bachelor’s in business administration at San Francisco State University. “The support and encouragement from family and longtime friends has been invaluable!”

Plath’s son, William, was still attending a junior college in Southern California when she decided to make the move. “It was a very difficult decision to move north while he was there, but he encouraged and reassured me to continue and accomplish the goals I had set for myself.” Then, when William decided to attend San Francisco State University, Plath was thrilled: “Not many people can say they graduated college with their child. I have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy the distinction.”

Plath also shared that being a College of Business student was different in many ways: “The San Francisco State campus is many times larger than I had experienced, and it has exposed me to a much more diverse student body than I had previously known. Moreover, the support and encouragement of all my professors kept me focused and motivated at every step of the journey.”

This mother and son duo will walk during Commencement in May at AT&T Park, celebrating their academic accomplishments together.

Plath plans to go back to building her business after graduation. “My reason for starting Zi Zi Company was to help small businesses stay in business… Each one of us has gifts and talents to offer others. A few of my gifts are being a stickler for details, very organized and having a passion for helping others succeed.”