“Did you not read the ad? A degree is required for this position. You are not qualified.”
With that, the hiring manager hung up on Renee Hungerford as she tried to apply for a job. Renee was stunned. She had been working for years in various business, management, IT and database development jobs – how could she not be qualified?
Life got in the way
Renee always intended to earn her degree. Like many people, she started college right after high school, but in her senior year, “life happened,” as she says, and she had to change direction and focus more on her job. A year later, she decided to finish her education, but realized she needed to change her major to business in order to improve her career. In essence, she had to start over.
Sure enough, “life happened” again, and one-and-a-half years into the new program, she had to stop. Over the next several years, Renee was able to blend what she learned in her business classes with self-taught computer training to build what she called a “decent career” in information systems.
I realized that all my education, experience and accomplishments meant nothing if I didn’t have a degree.
“One day I saw an interesting job listing. I had several successful projects under my belt by this time, so I applied,” Renee explained. Then the above-mentioned conversation took place.
“I realized that all my education, experience and accomplishments meant nothing if I couldn’t get in the door, and that meant I had to have a degree.”
Getting to the finish line
In 2005, she enrolled in a computer college to complete a Bachelor’s in information systems, but again, life happened, and she had to stop just six courses shy of earning her degree.
By 2009, Renee had carried the title of vice president for several years and was working as a project manager. Now, with more responsibility than ever and long work hours, not to mention a husband and six children, Renee felt it was finally the time to go back to school.
“I chose American Sentinel because I could do my course work on my schedule and the tuition is affordable,” Renee said. “I like the way that you can work on your own hours. I like that you can plan ahead and set your priorities of what you need to get done each week. Plus, the instructors were great – my questions were always answered.”
And finally, the prize is hers
In December, 2010, Renee Hungerford earned her Bachelor of Science in Information Systems degree. “I started college in 1984 and have been in school on-and-off for most of my adult life,” Renee said. “I’ve worked long hours. I’ve spent time as a single parent. I’ve had many challenges that knocked me down. But I’m glad I got back up again and pushed forward every time.”
In the first few weeks after graduation, Renee said she found herself in a strange place. “Once I had hit that ‘submit’ button to send in my final thesis, I sat there alone in my kitchen thinking, ‘What now?’” she recalled.
“And it wasn’t two days later that I was visiting the American Sentinel website with my husband saying, ‘Do you think I should go for my Master’s?’”