Bria Jones is enrolled in the online Public Administration program at South Carolina State University and lives in Aurora, Illinois, a suburb approximately 45 minutes away from Chicago. Bria first attended SC State University in 1994, however, due to financial difficulties she was unable to complete her studies. She never lost the urge to complete her degree in and 2016 took the first steps towards realizing her dreams of a college education and completed an associate’s degree in criminal justice. At the urging of a family member who is supportive of Bria’s educational goals, she was encouraged to visit the SC State website to see if online classes were offered that would allow her to complete her bachelor’s degree online from her beloved SC State. She was pleasantly surprised to learn that SC State offered online programs and she decided to apply to the online Public Administration program. In January 2020, she was admitted to the university majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Public Administration. Ms. Sharon Connelly, Online Student Services Manager, was instrumental in helping Bria navigate through the registration and financial aid process on campus. The program served as an excellent complement to her Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice. According to Bria:

“My professors have broken down the building blocks of lawmaking, and they constantly challenge me to use critical thinking skills. I have learned a wealth of knowledge from my professors, and they constantly make themselves available if help is needed. The culture of the administration within this program is that they really want their students to succeed. The professors welcome your questions, and they extend mutual respect for their class. If a subject is hard to grasp, they are willing to schedule a time to meet with you to give extra support just so that you can understand and keep up with your assignments. The one-on-one care is what sets SCSU apart from other institutions.”

The flexibility of the online delivery format is also convenient for Bria. “I work the third shift so taking classes at my convenience makes SCSU online classes more attractive. Also, I live out of town so being able to complete my degree at my HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) where my college career began is the greatest gift that has been granted to this returning student who did not think that it would be possible. My responsibilities and obligations are not interrupted by set class times; flexibility with my schedule helps me to plan accordingly for unforeseen events that come with having a family.”

The online program at SC State is helping Bria to achieve her career goals. “A degree in Political Science with a concentration in Public Administration is going to allow me to pursue a career in public administration whether it is with the Circuit Court Clerk’s office, or Health and Family Services, this degree is flexible enough that I could use it to embark upon any job that is geared towards policy and procedure making.” After graduation Bria states she would like to “secure a position that will allow me to serve in a capacity that comes naturally for me. I have always had a heart for women and families. I would like to work with single parents in a support program. I feel like I have compassion for their struggle and would love to help make a difference on that level.” Bria offers the following advice for adults who are considering completing their college education: “As a returning student, I would like to encourage adults who are thinking about switching careers to take a chance on yourself. It is not too late. You are your best cheerleader. Remember that the race is not given to the swift or the strong but to the one who can endure”.

“The development of the online Public Administration degree program was funded by Title III.”