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Alumna pursues online degree to forward her education, goals

by Sarah Fitzpatrick and Sal Nudo / Feb 19, 2014

Dealing with high tuition costs these days is a fact of life for many college students, including Isa Adney, Ed.M., ’12, HRE, who was looking to save money and avoid major debt after high school.

She enrolled at her local community college, Seminole State College of Florida, and while furthering her education, Adney observed how the institution collaborated with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to assist low-income students. It made an impression.

“I knew that I wanted to work in education,” Adney said. “When I saw the disparities between low-income and wealthy students, I knew something needed to change.”

Ambitious and determined, Adney began sharing her knowledge with students, giving workshops and speeches to help those of her generation move forward educationally. She even wrote a book called Community College Success.

When she continued on with her own education, Adney selected the an online master's program in human resources at the College of Education at Illinois.

“I had seen the U of I ranked very highly for its education graduate programs and wanted something online so I could continue my full-time work in the community college,” she said. “However, I wasn't ready to have a completely ‘online’ experience. I wanted a social element, and that is what sold me on U of I – the cohort and the ability to still have live class.”

Professor Cris Mayo, director of online learning, said one of the best parts of her job is meeting people like Adney—and she hopes to meet more students like her in the future.

“We encourage anyone interested in learning in an environment with energetic students and faculty to connect with us in an online program,” Mayo said.

Calling herself a “social learner,” Adney knew she wanted a sense of community in whatever program she chose. She liked meeting with her online classes one evening per week via learning software that allowed her to see the professor and have group discussions. Adney sought a reputable school that was nationally recognized, with a good sense of history.

Adney, a 2013 recipient of Good Magazine’s 100 People "Pushing the World Forward" list, said her UI education has been invaluable in her current work as a consultant.

“My program really taught me the importance of learning outcomes and the ‘how’ of good workshop development and meeting the needs of clients,” she said.

Adney plans to continue giving seminars, training students, and writing more self-help books. Her website offers numerous ways for students to get advice on furthering their educational journey.

Interested in the same educational experience Isa had? View our selection of online programs.