2018 Graduate, Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Studies
Holly McDonald is a 41-year-old UTEP Connect student, a wife, a mom of two, and a full-time employee. Besides helping her reach her own career goals, being an online student helped her set an example for her children and show them the value of getting a great education.
When we first reached out to Holly she said, "I am just an average mom trying to reach a goal that I put on hold too many times. My kids are growing, my marriage is strong, and my career needs a kick in the rear-end. My goal of finishing at the end of the Spring 2018 semester was set intentionally, as it will be when my son graduates from high school. I already have a mental image of the picture we will take together in our graduation caps & gowns. It’s my motivation!"
Holly and her son graduated as planned, in Spring 2018; they are pictured here in their graduate caps and gowns.
Why she enrolled in the program:
I had two primary goals: 1) obtain my Bachelor’s degree and 2) use that Bachelor’s degree to advance my career in the clinical research industry. I have worked in Clinical Operations in the pharmaceutical arena for almost 20 years, but found myself to be maxed out as far as career advancement with no degree. I want my career to have more forward momentum and this degree will help propel me in that direction.
Her experience with online learning as a nontraditional student:
I used to think I wasn’t your typical college student, but I’m beginning to think that that middle-aged students are the new normal! I’m a wife, a mom to 2 kids, and a full-time employee. I started and stopped college a few times in my teens and early twenties. I went back to school in my thirties and received my associate's degree from Brookhaven College. I stopped school for a little while and went back to being a full-time student. I have found that returning to college later in life gave me a different focus than I had previously. I have experience and knowledge that I didn’t have in my twenties, so I feel like I had a richer learning experience than ever before. Also, having the ability to take all my classes online was a life saver. I took 12 hours in the Fall semester (all A's!) and enrolled for another 15 hours in Spring.
On her family:
My family was very supportive of my endeavors. My 8-year-old daughter likes to snack while she is doing her homework, so she always made sure I was well stocked with snacks and drinks while studying. I hope that I set a good example for her in regards to study habits. My 17-year-old son spends more time in his room and on his devices than he does with us, but we have had multiple dinner conversations about schooling and the importance of an advanced education. He's enrolled in dual credit courses, so he understands the struggle of working on your college education while trying to have a life outside of textbooks. My husband was my biggest cheerleader and took on the lion’s share of kid and house duties to make sure I achieved my educational goals.