Turning a Passion for Technology into an IT Management Degree—without Wasting Time ‘Relearning’
Angela Thompson grew up a resident of the world. With her father’s military career, moving was inevitable, and she moved so frequently that adjusting to a new locale became just a regular part of life. After 17 different cities, picking up and moving every two years became a lifestyle for Angela. “Traditional” was not a word in her vocabulary.While attending a U.S. Department of Defense high school in the Republic of Panama, she had many opportunities to develop a passion for technology with access to a wide array of technologies largely unavailable to the typical U.S. teenager in the 1990s. Ready to sail through college with prestigious IT qualifications, Angela made several attempts at community college. But as she sat through hours of lectures on material she had already mastered, Angela became frustrated with the narrow style of learning that traditional post-secondary institutions offered, quickly realizing it was not working with her style. She decided to postpone her education. Though an untraditional choice, Angela’s decision did not mean failure. Less time spent in class meant she had more time to focus on a job just as rewarding as an education – becoming a mother to four children. Her role as a mother became her priority and focus over the following decade. When the time came for Angela to re-enter the workforce, she discovered the jobs she desired required at least a bachelor’s, or even a master’s, degree—neither of which she had completed. She found that at local schools, either tuition was double the cost of most institutions or the material and educators did not seem to be up to par. She knew that sitting in a math class surrounded by 18-year-olds learning “new” concepts she had been practicing for years wasn’t what she needed. Working for Ahern Rentals as Evan Ahern’s Executive Assistant as well as providing operational and project management direction as AhernIT’s Operational Manager, Angela desired a degree that would help her grow in executive management. Traditional post-secondary educational models did not provide the flexibility that would allow her to perform as needed at work while still being able to maintain a healthy family. She enrolled in WGU’s B.S. Business–Information Technology Management program at the recommendation of her brother, Robert Marx, who is an alum of WGU. Angela was intrigued by the competency-based learning model. “Competency-based education is the only professional system that makes any sense in today’s workforce,” Angela said. “If I have extra time, I would much prefer spending it with my family or studying something I don’t already know.” The course material has proved to be challenging and applicable to her professional growth, but Angela has still been able to move quickly through her program by making the most of WGU’s competency-based learning model. Her IT skills and knowledge from years of work experience have allowed her to move quickly through the material she has already mastered in order to spend time on the concepts she still needs to learn. She looks forward to receiving the diploma that will validate her knowledge and reassure customers that her company can be trusted. Angela moved to Las Vegas in 2012 with long-term plans to settle in the area and become a leader in the IT field.