“Technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now,” she explains. “For someone like me who had been out for 20 years, the thought of going back to school was a struggle.”
Upon graduating from high school in 1995, Diane had enrolled at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. But the struggle to balance her studies with having to work to pay for tuition, combined with her uneasiness in large classes, ultimately led her to drop out and return to California, where she went on to take a full-time job in restaurant management.
As the years passed, Diane also took on the additional roles of wife and mother of three, and it became easier and even more necessary to put an undergraduate degree low on her list of priorities. That is, until her oldest son, Christopher Jr., began looking at colleges in 2014.
When Christopher began asking questions about where she went to school and what her college experience had been like, Diane began to formulate a question of her own: How could she be an even better role model for her kids?
Flexible class schedule
She was working as a store manager for Starbucks when the company first began offering full tuition coverage in partnership with ASU, as part of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. In 2015, Diane decided to enroll, and she graduated with a degree in organizational leadership the following year.
“I didn’t realize until I got into the program how much more mature it made me,” she says. “It gave me the ability to articulate to higher ups and present myself in a different way. I no longer had to hide my lack of education; I was able to articulate my leadership.”
Diane is now pursuing her master’s in sustainability leadership, and credits the flexibility of ASU Online with giving her the ability to pursue her goals while juggling the role of working mom.
“With online, I’m able to work my schedule around my life,” she says.
I can do my school work at my kids’ sports practices. I can study at work, then go to my son’s football games on Friday nights. I thought I needed an in-class setting, but it turns out I have even more of a one-on-one connection with my professor online. My kids are my motivation. They’ve been encouraged to go to college by watching me overcome challenges. I remember the moment when my eldest son got his admission to college and I told him how proud I was of him. His first comment to me was, ‘I had a great mentor.' I can do my school work at my kids’ sports practices. I can study at work, then go to my son’s football games on Friday nights. I thought I needed an in-class setting, but it turns out I have even more of a one-on-one connection with my professor online.
Being a successful online learner
She anticipates completing her master’s in 2018. By then, Christopher Jr. will be settled in at Colorado State University, Christian will be starting college and Jordan will be laying the groundwork for his post-secondary studies.
Given all that she has accomplished, Diane is well-versed in what it takes to be successful in an online learning environment.
“You need a very focused organizational skill set,” she explains.
“In my case, you have to be able to balance out what percentage you’re going to focus on work, school and family — all three are important. I also believe you need to have an outlet you can vent to, whether that’s a teacher, spouse or friend. They’ll help you think outside the box.
She adds, “Ultimately, you need to be open-minded. If you go in thinking you know what it’s all about, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Be willing to learn and learn from others. You’re going to make mistakes and you’re going to work through those mistakes. Utilize your professors, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t do well right away.”