The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Category: Student Testimonials (page 2 of 2)

An Educational Journey

Written by: Sivasankar Veerabhadran, May 2015 graduate from Brandeis GPS‘ M.S. in Information Security and Consultant Solutions Engineer at EMC

Twenty-five years ago, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from a university in India. Ever since graduating I wanted to pursue my Master’s degree from a highly regarded university in the United States. My dream finally came true this spring as a result of the commitment to continuing education for working professionals (like myself)from both EMC Corporation & Brandeis University.

Working in Information Technology, it is extremely important to keep up-to-date with the technology and skills needed to excel in the current global market. I strongly felt that I should not invest my time and effort on education at this stage of my life just to get another degree. Instead, my education should guide me and give me the confidence to take my career to the next level. In addition, if it is SankarBlog2in one of the relevant technical fields like Information Security from a highly regarded university like Brandeis, it is a huge plus.

Some of the following courses offered as  part of my Master’s degree program are my favorite ones. In addition to learning from the professors, text books, and related materials, I learned a lot from fellow students and their real world working experiences, who all are professionals with extensive knowledge in their respective fields.

I have to say this, while looking for the options to continue my education at various universities, the integration of Brandeis GPS courses with our internal Educational Services portal at EMC, and the related approval work flow model was one of the reasons I have decided to start and continue my professional studies with Brandeis University. The process was as easy as signing up for any internal training courses.

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Sankar & his student advisor, Janice

I really would like to express my thanks and appreciation to our student advisor Janice Steinberg for all the advice provided to me during the entire program. I really thought that after all these years getting the “Education Credential Evaluation” done for all my old school diplomas and college degrees completed in India must be a huge process.  Janice helped me with the whole process and made it so simple  that I could apply for the actual program after a long break with 4 courses.

Along with my wife, kids, family, and parents, my manager Charlie Dellacona also motivated me a lot to complete this degree. He always insisted on the importance of education along with experience for professionals like us to advance our career to the next level. A bit of his advice, “Sankar, education is the best investment you can make for yourself and also for your family, which is always  yours no matter where life takes you,” this was the greatest motivational factor.

As per my professor’s advice, I am currently working on  getting “Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) “ & Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certifications. I am looking forward to contribute a lot to Cloud security based initiatives.

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From Registered Nurse to Informatics Analyst

Theresa Harrigan is a graduate from Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies Master of Science in Health and Medical Informatics. She is currently an Informatics Business Analyst for EPIC implementation at Massachusetts General Hospital.

I am atheresa blog photo registered nurse and have worked in health care for more than two decades. If you had asked me 10 years ago if I would be furthering my education, I would likely have said no.  My family and professional life was simply too demanding and I could not imagine myself finding the time to attend classes.  Fast forward a few years and you will find me celebrating the completion of my master’s degree from Brandeis in Health and Medical Informatics.   The online-learning program at Brandeis provided me with the opportunity to expand my knowledge and understanding of health care relative to the application of technology solutions and opened new doors for me. I was able connect with and learn from experienced leaders in the industry in the industry as well as with other students from a wide variety of professional backgrounds and from all over the world. While a student at Brandeis, I discovered new opportunities and pathways for professional growth that I never realized existed.

My professional work continues to evolve and I have become involved in promoting technology solutions as an informatics analyst  aMedizint Massachusetts General Hospital. My mission is to simplify health care for both providers and patients.  Because of my educational experience and the knowledge gained, I believe I will be able to make a direct contribution to improving patient care outcomes and the delivery of health care.

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Creating the Total Package

Below is a post written by M.S. in Information Security graduate, Megan Olvera. She is an EMC employee who is continuing her quest for life-long learning. Below are her thoughts on her experience with Brandeis GPS.

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“I am admittedly a lifelong learner. I have always loved school, and although I had just wrapped up my first Master’s Degree in 2010, by 2011, I was already missing the classroom. Unfortunately, I couldn’t justify the time and expense required to earn another degree “just because.”  What to do, what to do?  My career had taken a turn from a more liberal arts focus into the world of IT, and although my daily responsibilities didn’t require an IT background, having that level of knowledge certainly wouldn’t hurt.  When my employer (EMC) sent out information about their partnership with Brandeis, jumping into the Master of Science in Information Security program seemed a perfect next step.

My previous formal education was focused on the Humanities side of the house, so I worried that I’d struggle with the more technical concepts I knew would come with this program; working in IT and learning IT in theory are often two very different things.  I was happy to discover that the Brandeis instructors were not only patient in clarifying issues for me, but they seemed to appreciate the human-experience slant that my own background naturally brought to our class discussions.  More than once, professors offered feedback that they valued the perspectives I added to the conversations.

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The online learning format of Brandeis GPS was ideal for me, as I lead a busy life between family, work, and all-consuming hobbies.  If I had a vacation planned or needed to travel for work, there were no worries about missing class, as class came with me!  I’d be sure to message my professors of any planned time away, just in case I ran into connectivity issues, and most professors were accommodating if I asked for a weekly assignment to be made available early, so that I could work ahead when needed.

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As I progressed through the curriculum at Brandeis, my new found knowledge was noticed and appreciated at work. At times, it even caused exclamations of surprise from my manager at my ability to clearly understand and troubleshoot technical issues that had stumped other members of our team.  In addition to learning technical concepts, I also learned how to efficiently communicate with management; presenting the need-to-know information in a way that enables them to quickly grasp issues and impacts and then make decisions.  In my current role, I interact with clients who expect a certain level of technical expertise combined with graceful communication skills, and now, thanks to my experience at Brandeis, I can confidently step forward and claim that competence.  If any readers are on the fence about committing to (in my case, yet another) degree program, hesitate no longer – Brandeis is the way to go!”

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My Student Experience

By: Ingah Davis-Crawford, Student in the M.S. in Instructional Design & Technology program

The fall semester 2014, was my first semester at Brandeis GPS.  The last time I had attended grad school was in 2009, when working on my Master’s in Distance Education from the University of Maryland University College.

Believe me when I say that I had no plans to return to school.  But, in the five intervening years I began to think that maybe I should advance my knowledge explorerof instructional design. At the same time I did very much enjoy not having to spend time studying.  I had gotten back into the swing of having a social life and just being able to watch television or read when I wanted was great and let’s not even mention sleep.  Still, every now and again I would surf the net looking for an online grad instructional design program.

That’s what I was doing when I found the Online Instructional Design and Technology program at Brandeis.  I saw it was a new program and that the first cohort would begin studies in the fall.  It was one of those “now you don’t have any excuses” moments for me. If I didn’t apply who could I blame?  My friends and family would understand.  I could dvr my favorite TV shows.  And sleep, well I have gone without it before and survived.

I enrolled in two courses, Principles of Online Instructional Design and Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. I was beginning to get the hang of things when real life intervened.  During the third and fe-Learning Concept. Computer Keyboardourth weeks of the semester , our father, who had been sick for quite some time, was taken into hospice care and began his journey home.  Needless to say that meant I had to put my classes on the back burner, Dad was the priority.  Of course, I messaged my professors to inform them of my circumstances and they were both very understanding. However professor Salerno was particularly kind and encouraging.  In the end after returning my attention to studying, I made the decision to drop Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in favor of concentrating on Principles of Online Instructional Design (ID).

I really enjoyed the ID course, and it was no walk in the park either.  The course offered an education on two levels – first, it was a thorough overview of the methodology behind instructional design.  Second, it was very enlightening to be able to observe and experience professor Salerno’s teaching method and how he structured the course, respectively.  For instance with respect to teaching method, I noticed that he would use the discussion forum topics to get us to think about or practice a specific instructional design technique prior to the assigning a task that would incorporate that technique on a broader scale.  This I found to be quite useful for my own development throughout the course and I also view it as a practical example of best practices.  The course layout within the classroom was very easy to follow.  Course materials for the weekly modules were clearly placed.  Instructions for discussion forum topics and course assignments were clear and concise.  And, professor Salerno was always available to answer questions or offer feedback on a timely basis.  So, there again he was teaching by example.

In closing, I found the course to be challenging, but I know that I learned a lot and I’m glad to have had the experience.  Overall, I’m very satisfied with the learning experience I have had so far at Brandeis GPS, and I’m looking forward to next semester.

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The Balance of Life and Learning

Tom Burt is a recent graduate of our Master of Science in Project and Program Management Program. He is currently the Administrative Contracting Officer for GSA/FAS/Supplier Management. Below is his story about his journey through e-learning at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies.

“I always knew I would have to go back to school.  My father presource-schedulingresented a perfect example of that—nearing the end of his career, he had been unable to advance any further in his field because he lacked a four-year degree.  For my generation, I equate that to not
having a graduate degree.  Not wanting to be held back from a promotion, going back to school seemed a necessary evil; however, it was a terrifying thought.  Travelling to classes, giving up nights and weekends, simply finding the time to work on assignments—there was no way I would be able to do all that.  Then a co-worker told me about Brandeis GPS, and all my fears went away.

Online Learning made it all possible for me.  I bought my first home about the same time I started my Program and Project Management degree; due to the nature of the program, I was able to balance the challenges of purchasing a home while keeping up with studies.  Also thanks to online learning, I was able to take vacations during semesters!  On ski trips Slimmedto the western US with friends each year, I started every day with a couple hours of school work (and gallons of coffee) before hitting the slopes.  I also remember a trip to Italy for a family wedding that coincided with Professional Communication.  Had I been enrolled in a traditional classroom-based program, I may not have been able to make the trip; instead, I was posting discussion responses while riding the Rome to Florence train, using the onboard wireless, all while traveling at 250 kilometers per hour!  Grazie Brandeis!  Finally, in the last couple semesters, I was able to attend classes while training for an Ironman triathlon (as much as twenty hours of training per week) while also managing to not get fired from my job!

Graduate school does not have to be a life-consuming event, nor should it be.  There is much to be enjoyeBurtofficeslimmedd in life, such as home-ownership, vacations, and the pursuit of personal goals.  These opportunities absolutely can occur, even while maintaining a career and a family.  Not having to sacrifice other opportunities meant everything to me (and also meant the courses flew by in no time!).  Brandeis GPS was and is the key to this ever-important balance of life and learning.  Having achieved this milestone, I can now start
looking forward in my career, confident that I have the educational qualifications to support my endeavors. ”

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My Student Experience

Danita Sutton is a recent graduate of Brandeis GPS’ Master of Science in Information Technology Management  Program. She is also a Senior Business Operations Analyst at EMC. Below is her account of her educational journey at Brandeis GPS.

IMG_1293“I was very nervous taking an online course let alone pursuing my Master degree in a 100% virtual environment. The first day I opened Latte I was full of anxiety and overwhelmed because this was so new to me.  This feeling of anxiety was quickly removed as I read through the professors instructions and read the responses from my fellow classmates, I was not in this alone and I had a community of people who were willing to help me out.  This community of fellow classmates set the tone for the amazing experience I would have as I moved through the GPS program.

The strength in this program is the experience of the Professors, I was impressed with their knowledge in the course they were teaching and they were willing to share that knowledge with us to help us improve and build on the course material and apply it to our personal and professional life experiences.

The material was relevant and dealt with current issues we face with virtual teams, how to communicate and negotiate with them, how to manage projects and the software that we are using now, and organizational and operational strategies. program-hero-itm1

Finally, I don’t know what I would have done without my student advisor, Janice Steinberg, who kept in touch with me, answered me promptly every time I had a question (and I had a lot of questions), and was a great support system.  The Brandeis GPS program has forever changed my life and I am very grateful that I was able to be a part of such an incredible and wonderful program and community of people.”

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My Journey in Online Learning

The M.S. in Project and Program Management program at Brandeis GPS through the eyes of a recent graduate, Thomas Gratiano.

ProjectManagement_03Three years ago as the manager of the Program Management Group within the Manufacturing and Global Supply Chain (MGSC) Division, my manager challenged me to build my business acumen. To meet this challenge, I started researching: certifications, certificates, and degree programs.

Eventually I came across the Brandeis program, the curriculum was exactly what I was looking for to build on my existing Program Management skills. During the pursuit of my degree at Brandeis I took four classes on campus and six online.  Although I was hesitant at first about taking online classes, the online option provided an increased level of flexibility.  This proved to be a key feature of the program as I ended up Program Managing two projects with our team in Belgium while attending classes online. I was able to travel as often as required with no impact to my ability to participate in class. e-Learning Concept. Computer Keyboard

Upon completion of my degree, I was promoted to senior manager in charge of Framingham manufacturing operations and the MGSC Program Management group. The Brandeis degree built my business acumen and provided me the opportunity to continue to grow with my company. 

Thoughts from a Recent Graduate

 A look at the Brandeis GPS student experience through the eyes of recent graduate from our Master of Software Engineering Program, Megan Tsai. 

My time with Brandeis GPS has been very helpful for my career. This is a feeling shared by all of my fellow GPS graduates. During commencement, IMG_1230the student speaker shared his experience of taking a discussion or an idea from class and applying it directly to his job. Many of the GPS graduates sitting in front of me were nodding their heads in agreement. There were several times I was able take what I had learned just the night before and take my work to the next level.

As one of the few students in an entry level position in all of my courses, my experience in the master’s degree program involved mostly sharing my perspective as an entry level worker. This allowed me to gain career advice from experienced fellow students and instructors. GPS courses are not just for established workers with years of experiences under their belt. GPS courses are for anyone who wants to advance his or her career, exchange ideas with people from different backgrounds, and catch up on the latest technologies and techniques. 

The types of cIMG_1262ourses offered allow software engineers of different capacities to learn something new. The fact that GPS courses are online helps professionals living around the world connect through an academic environment. The online courses also allow busy people find  time in their day to complete the course requirements. Ten courses may seem impossible for any one busy with work, life and other commitments. However, the flexible nature of GPS courses will help anyone achieve the dream of obtaining an advanced degree.

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