Alberto started working in the hospitality industry twenty years ago. During that time, a great many things changed in his life. For one thing, he met his husband, and they’re now raising twin daughters together. Inspired by his family, Alberto realized he wanted to make changes in his career as well. He’d tried before, but previous attempts at pursuing an education hadn’t worked out. Alberto felt frustrated by a lack of opportunities and believed that his lack of a bachelor’s degree was holding him back. But he couldn’t afford to stop working, and he had concerns about becoming a college student in his forties.
Things changed dramatically for Alberto when he discovered the Bachelor of Applied Arts Sciences (B.A.A.S.) program from the University of North Texas on Coursera and started talking to their counselors. He felt comfortable sharing his goals and challenges, and they helped him map his career plans to a learning path that made sense for his objectives.
The program offered several things that were especially important to Alberto. Despite being older and having life and work experience, he still wanted to be seen and treated as a student. He wanted to collaborate with peers, build a network, and interact with a community. He also wanted a program where communication with professors was open and where he could build beneficial relationships, receive valuable mentoring, and discuss the challenges of translating classroom learning to his actual career.
One professor, in particular, became an especially valuable part of his experience:
“Dr. Dennis Nasco has been my rock. I’ve been able to talk to him about my professional experiences and ask how they apply to my courses. I could describe to him how teams were being led at my job, and he would show me how I could use what I had just learned in class to optimize our team. I never thought I would be like, ‘Oh, that’s Kotter’s model of business management.’ And then I could take that knowledge back to my work the next day. I felt like I had a personal tour guide for my future.”
After enrolling in the program, Alberto immediately started building on his existing hospitality skills. He also started learning new skills in marketing and business. This led to an unexpected turn of events. “While still earning my degree, I actually left my hospitality job and joined a retail startup that was just bought by a venture capitalist group and switched over to administration and supervision.” It wasn’t part of his original plans, but it was an exciting opportunity he was excited to pursue. And, he knew that he could always go back to hospitality if he wanted to.
In his new role, Alberto has continued his practice of applying what he’s learning in his degree program to the work he’s doing on the job, and he’s happy that his colleagues are taking notice.
“I am now an area manager for the company. I am in a super-competitive market where my peers have so much more experience than I do, and yet they’re telling me, ‘you really know the business market, you really understand analytics and how to do forecasting.’ They’re asking me for help, and I feel like I’ve gone from someone who knew nothing to feeling like I’m an expert in my field. To be confident in my responses is something that I never really imagined.”
Building that confidence has made a difference in Alberto’s personal life as well, not just his professional one. Today, he’s proud to share his successes and accomplishments with his daughters. “It’s super exciting to know that they are my #1 cheerleaders and that they’re so proud of me. They talk to their friends about me. It is the most fantastic gift.”
Alberto is nearing his graduation date, and as he reflects on his journey, he has some hard-won advice to share: “Take advantage of opportunities that present themselves and don’t over analyze what is in front of you. People start to second guess themselves, but not holding back is the biggest thing.”
The University of North Texas’ online Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (B.A.A.S.) program is designed to streamline student’s path to a fully accredited bachelor’s degree by making it easy to transfer course work they’ve previously completed for technical, applied, or military credit. Providing student support is a central part of the B.A.A.S. experience.