Cheryl Stanga graduated from Emory University in 2008 with a double degree in Political Science and Women's Studies. She graduated right in the midst of the Great Recession. The job market was tough, even as a graduate with 2 liberal arts degrees. A lot of her friends went to law school, due in part to the lack of job availability, and Cheryl knew that she too needed to find a way to improve her career opportunities.
"I always knew I was going to go back and get my master's degree," Cheryl admitted, but wasn't sure what professional direction she wanted to take. After graduation, she taught for a while and realized that she really loved teaching. Then her aunt put her in touch with Dr. Wendy Ruona, a professor in two of UGA's online programs, M.Ed. in Adult Education and M.Ed. in Human Resources and Organizational Development. Dr. Ruona talked with Cheryl about subjects such as organizational development, learning design, adult education, and master's education and Cheryl realized that learning design and technology was the avenue she wanted to move down. She started the online M.Ed. in Learning Design and Technology program at UGA in Fall of 2014 and says, "Because of the program, I started taking on a role of being the go-to person for technology and design and curriculum ideas."
The program itself has been a very positive experience for Cheryl. She had a small cohort within her Women's Studies major in undergrad, but she feels like she has an even closer relationship with her online professors than she did in that close cohort. "I even remember being in an on-campus undergrad class and having less interaction with professors there than my online program," Cheryl says. "They know that we're in the program because we really really want to be here, and they love to get to know us." She says her UGA professors are available routinely throughout the process of projects, topics, and discussions, rather than only during class or office hours, really guiding their students through the learning process.
After extensive research into online M.Ed. Learning Design and Technology programs, Cheryl decided that UGA was the perfect program for her, since it was totally online and had a great reputation. As she has progressed through the program, and became more and more of an expert on learning design and technology, Cheryl has been promoted into a new position at the private school where she works. She is now a Learning Design Specialist, teaching teachers how to use emerging technologies to enhance their students learning experience. Cheryl says, "I very much credit the master's program for positioning me to get that promotion."