Twenty years after completing my bachelor’s degree in business administration, I returned to school to get my master’s degree. After raising a family, creating and owning a business, enjoying a successful career and volunteering, why would I go back to school mid-career? That’s what WGU asked when I completed orientation – “what’s your why?” My primary goal for getting my master’s degree was that I hoped to teach writing, editing, communications or business courses at the community college level, and I needed a minimum of a master’s degree to be able to do so.

There were other reasons though. Mostly, because I love to learn! I earned my bachelor’s while working full-time, taking industry-related classes, and raising three kids. It took a while, but I loved learning new things, studying (crazy, right?), and spending time with like-minded students and professionals. Each course was a new challenge and an opportunity to look at life from a different perspective. I learned from some amazing instructors and made lifelong friends.

As soon as I graduated, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my “free” time. Being a parent, working and volunteering were never quite enough to occupy my rarely idle brain. From that moment on, I dreamt of getting my master’s degree, but it wasn’t financially feasible while my kids were in school. After moving to Washington and getting laid off in 2004, I started Virtually Yourz, my own writing, editing and marketing firm. That kept me quite busy, and I had to learn so many new things – how to build and run a business, develop a website, attract and work with clients, market myself, learn about social media as it took off, publish my work, and more.

Wanting my master’s was always in the back of my mind though. Returning to full-time employment in 2017, I enjoyed an intense job that I loved but which afforded little time to pursue a graduate degree. As my circumstances changed, and my schedule freed up, I considered school once again. When I heard about Western Governors University and their graduate degree programs, I knew it was the right time to go back to school.

I started in January 2020 and completed the course of study – 31 credits – in 12 months, officially earning my Master of Science in Management and Leadership last week. It was such an incredible experience. Fortunately, WGU courses are all online, so COVID did not interrupt my studies. Online learning has come a long way since the late 1990s. It was such a rich experience with online texts, videos, case studies, self-tests, and much more.

My program mentor, Nathaly Bratton, was a fantastic support system and a great cheerleader, as were my course instructors who made themselves available to answer questions and guide me along the way. The classes were challenging but fascinating, and I walked away feeling like I got an excellent education. Maybe I should be grateful to be done – and I am – but I am also energized by the experience and ready for my next steps.

I will take a little time off to catch my breath before I decide what’s next. Teaching? Mentoring other students? Getting my MBA? The possibilities are endless, and I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.