Bachelor’s Degree Smoothes Transition from Overseas to U.S. Job Market

Information Systems Program Enhances Computer Science Background

For years, South Africa native Anne-Marie Broodryk enjoyed a thriving computer science career in her home country. When she and her family immigrated to Massachusetts in 1999, she viewed it as an opportunity to branch out within her field. Her enthusiasm, however, hit an unexpected roadblock.

“I found it very difficult for people to even look at me without a U.S. degree,” says Anne-Marie, now a firmware release manager in Wichita, Kansas. “I needed to have a local confirmation of what I was capable of.” As someone who sees obstacles as opportunities for improvement, she adds, “I was filled with excitement—not a hint of fear.”

Broadening Her Background

Knowing that her intense work schedule would make traditional on-campus classes next to impossible, she researched online universities, ultimately choosing American Sentinel for its accreditation and sound reputation. “I did not want to go with just any university,” she says.

She enrolled in the Bachelor of Science Information Systems program because it best complemented her role at work. “The course for information science was far more applicable to my position as a project leader,” she says. Building on her computer science experience, “I could really bring all the pieces together.”

Anne-Marie believes one of her American Sentinel computer science instructors was particularly important to her success. “He was amazing,” she says. “[For] any questions that I had, even the ones he could not answer immediately, he would circle back with different options.”

A New Approach to Learning

Not only did Anne-Marie enjoy the flexibility of American Sentinel’s program and the quality of the instruction, but she also found the U.S. education system refreshing. “My evaluation was based on taking one final exam and that was your final grade,” she explains. “Here, it’s an accumulation of what you can do, so it tests throughout the course whether you can apply what you learned.”

Discipline and planning, above all other traits, helped her stay on track with her course work. “You have to have very strong discipline. You have to stick to a schedule,” she says. Other than allowing herself a two-month break when her family moved to Wichita, she kept up a steady pace, graduating in two and a half years.

Broadening Perspectives

Besides increasing her knowledge base, Anne-Marie says, her bachelor’s degree has had less obvious benefits as well. “Having a degree makes you think more horizontally as opposed to vertically,” she says—in other words, it helps people draw connections between a variety of disciplines and situations. “That, I think, is most beneficial to everybody.”

In her case, it might even lead her down a fresh professional path. With her children grown and preparing for their own careers, she’s beginning to make long-term plans to downshift from the stress of corporate life. “I’m actually thinking of getting my master’s in mathematics to teach underprivileged kids,” says Anne-Marie, who has spent the past two years completing the math prerequisites to do so.

With her passion for learning as strong as ever, she’s thrilled at the prospect of another new challenge. “I’ll be a student at heart always,” she says.

 

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