In 2015 my academic curiosity finally demanded action. I was 58 years old and after many career iterations, I found myself as vice president of leadership development for a mid-sized company in Fort Worth, TX. I was responsible for coaching, training, and developing the interpersonal skills of over 2500 people. With a plethora of certifications in the coaching and training field, I still wanted to understand more about the what, how, and why of interpersonal interaction in the workplace. My curiosity brought me to the Online Master of Arts in Organizational Communication Program at Ohio University.
From the first interactions with faculty and students, I was fully engaged. The use of various learning modalities kept me wanting more. Reading, writing, online conversations, group projects, class discussions, and easy access to responsive and engaged faculty created a robust learning experience. I often tell people that the most frustrating and most rewarding aspect was learning to write academic papers. I even had the opportunity to complete a research project for my capstone. I made life-long friends, laughed, cried, struggled, and achieved. All the rich academic elements that I thought I would lose in an online program were present for me.
I was able to use learnings from each of my classes immediately in my job. Transferring my learning to my team helped me apply and teach back. I used many of the concepts as ways to enrich the content in development workshops and conversations during private coaching sessions. I believe I became more valuable as an advisor to the executive leadership team. Much of what I was learning gave me new perspectives on how to create a deeper leadership culture across the company.
I completed my research project and graduated in 2018, traveling to Athens, Ohio to participate in the graduation ceremony in person with family and friends cheering me on. The program filled me with a greater sense of purpose and personal achievement. I see my time at OHIO as one of my most personally fulfilling endeavors in my life’s journey. I am proud of the work I did and grateful for the students and faculty who shared so much to make the program great. My experience inspires me to continue my OHIO connection as an active alumna through both financial support and volunteer involvement. I am looking forward to serving as the 2021 Chair of the COMS Alumni Advisory Council.