When one door closes, another one opens. Doors have opened wide for 29-year-old Susie Edwards of Pine Bluff, Ark., ever since she decided to use a job layoff as an opportunity to further her education.

Susie had earned her BS and MBA from other schools and was working as an information technology coordinator for a consulting firm. She began to feel like she needed something more engaging from her career, but she wasn’t sure what her next move should be. Then when Susie was laid off from the firm, she decided it was time for a change.

Susie said she had always wanted to go to UA Little Rock, so when the opportunity presented itself, she jumped on it.

Susie chose to earn her M.Ed. in Learning Systems Technology through UA Little Rock Online, because it gave her the flexibility to do her coursework while she worked full time, without having to travel to and from Pine Bluff every day.

Although Susie had taken online classes before, she said she was initially against the idea of earning her entire degree online.

“Getting my [undergraduate degree], I was totally against online,” she said. “I was like, ‘You cannot learn online. You have to be in class.'”

However, Susie began to have a change of heart once she started her online program at UA Little Rock.

“I learned that you can learn a lot online, and I enjoyed the program from the beginning to the end,” she said. “I was excited. I was telling my friends, like, ‘I’m so excited to be doing my homework,’ and they were looking at me like I’m crazy.”

She said one of the reasons she came around to online education is because her instructors assigned projects with real-world applications, such as creating an instructional design course.

Throughout her academic career, Susie held full-time jobs (sometimes two) while also attending class full time. Through her hard work and ambition, she created many new opportunities for herself.

Susie currently works for the Jefferson County sheriff’s office, where she has served as an information technology coordinator for the past three years and recently completed training to become a sheriff’s deputy. Her yearlong internship with UA Little Rock’s Office of eLearning has also helped her grow her professional network and gain practical experience in higher education.

Susie said she would ultimately like to become an expert in instructional design and have her own university.

“Education is a big thing to me. Having the opportunity to teach others and give them the opportunity to learn is a big deal for me,” she said.

Advice for Students

“You have to use time management. No one is going to stay on you to get your work done … so manage yourself, and get your work done.”

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