The Brandeis GPS blog

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

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Why I Chose Brandeis GPS

We know that pursuing a master’s degree can be overwhelming, particularly for students who work full-time and are already balancing professional and personal commitments. We also know that every student has a unique reason that drives him or her to return to school and complete their degree.

 Hi, I’m Zanefa Walsh, a Brandeis GPS alum. I’m usually a private person but decided to share my why for pursuing the MS in Digital Marketing and Design because little did I know that the decision would be a stepping stone to where I am today: a digital communications and social cohesion consultant.

The fully online program, which consists of courses such as digital marketing strategy, writing for digital environments, and multichannel marketing campaigns, appealed to me during a time when I wanted to expand my knowledge to better meet the increasing marketing needs of my employer, which at the time was Brandeis. As soon as I learned that employees received 100% tuition remission, I started to explore courses even though I worried that adjusting to online learning would be challenging. I was delighted to learn that GPS offers the opportunity to take up to two courses before deciding to apply to a graduate program. After taking the two courses, I felt invigorated by the high-quality instruction and collaborative environment, that I applied.

I already had a master’s degree from another school, but the second time around as a graduate student differed from my first experience. I was now a mother, married, and working full-time. Finding ways to balance these conflicting responsibilities was essential. Yes, there were times when stress levels were high,  but it was my discipline, an invaluable support system, and effective time management that got me through the three-year journey. 

While expanding my knowledge was a major reason why I pursued this degree, deep down, it was so much more. My why was to prove to myself, and possibly other women of color, that taking on new opportunities and challenges leads to growth, whether you succeed or fail. No one else is as invested in your personal and professional growth as you. A year after completing the degree, I grew so much so that I had the confidence and determination to start my own consulting business in 2019.

With the knowledge gained from my GPS courses, along with over 15 years of work experience in the digital space, I now know what it takes to successfully conceive, produce, and execute a diverse range of data-driven multichannel marketing and communication strategies that build awareness, drive engagement, and foster a sense of belonging/community. Without a doubt, my decision to pursue a graduate degree at Brandeis GPS had an immediate and life-changing impact on my life.  

For more information on the Digital Marketing and Design program or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Tips for Writing Your Statement of Goals

I have worked with applicants for over five years at GPS and many of them have told me that they struggle with writing their statement of goals. More often than not, this is the section that most applicants leave for last. Their resume, letter(s) of recommendation and transcripts have been received, but they just can’t get over the hurdle of the statement of goals. 

Here are some tips to help you get started:

Tell us your WHY: Why have you decided to pursue a graduate degree? Are you looking to change careers or grow in your organization? The statement of goals is your place to speak directly to the admissions committee and tell them why you want to earn your master’s. 

Use your voice: Let your personality shine through! The statement of goals doesn’t have to be overly formal. The admissions committee wants to get to know you. Explain your passion for the field in which you are interested or aspiring to enter through the master’s program.

Provide additional explanations: At GPS, we don’t have a minimum GPA requirement, however, the admissions committee will review your transcripts. Is there something that happened that affected your undergraduate grades? This is your opportunity to shed light on unexpected complications or what happened at that time.

Ask for feedback: Ask a colleague, friend, or family member to read over your statement of goals. Make sure to check for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Just start writing: The hardest part of writing your statement of goals can be not knowing how to begin! But just the act of simply writing something down can help break your writer’s block. Start out with a rough outline or a list of bullet points. If you find yourself stuck, take a break and come back later.  

Start your GPS application

Please feel free to contact our enrollment team any time. We understand the commitment it takes to apply for a master’s degree, and we’re happy to walk you through the steps and answer any questions that you have. To speak with an enrollment advisor, contact gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787  

Fall Semester Update

Dear Members of the Brandeis Community,

Brandeis University has announced a comprehensive plan to safely reopen campus for the fall semester. The COVID-19 Task Force, which included faculty, staff, and students, consulted with local, state, and national public health and medical experts to develop this plan for the university’s fall semester. Below we have highlighted important plan information that is of particular interest for our students here at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies.

Available Facilities

While all Brandeis GPS classes are online, there are facilities available to our students on the Brandeis University campus. These include the library, gym, and mailroom, among many others. While these are available to the Brandeis community, there are strict health and safety measures that are required for all of those who enter campus. Access to these facilities are subject to change, and we will keep our students updated as the semester progresses.

Health and Safety Measures

Based upon public health best practices and accommodations for individual community-member needs, the university is implementing the following policies and procedures to create an on-campus environment that is as safe as possible:

High Frequency, Universal Testing: Brandeis will provide high-frequency, mandatory COVID-19 testing to all on-campus community members.There will also be mandatory testing multiple times per month for all students, faculty, and staff who either live on campus or who come to campus several times per week, regardless of symptoms. This will enable us to quickly identify and contain any instances of infection on our campus.

Public Health Protocols: The university will institute a suite of public health measures, including symptom monitoring, mandatory face masks/coverings indoors and outdoors, public hand-sanitizing stations, and mandatory physical distancing. We will also ask all individuals who return to campus to sign a community commitment to follow such protocols.

Cleaning Enhancements and Building Modifications: The university is also taking actions, such as enhanced cleaning protocols and changes to foot-traffic flow through buildings and on-campus pathways, to ensure that all campus spaces and buildings support the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff.

These are just a few of the many health and safety measures that are being implemented across campus.

Resources

For more information regarding the reopening of Brandeis this fall semester, please visit the following links:

Letter from the President

Campus Health and Safety Measures

Fall 2020 Plans Webpage

COVID-19 Task Force Report

How to Stay Sane during this Quarantine

These past couple of weeks have proved to be trying times for the global community. This transition to an online world has left many scrambling for a sense of normalcy. Many find themselves worried about the safety of their loved ones, especially if they are in the high-risk category. Others are trying to parent during a pandemic while also maintaining their regular work schedule. So, how do we keep our sanity during this unprecedented global lockdown? We have compiled a list of some helpful tips to stay sane during quarantine.

1. Stick to a routine

Being stuck inside can make the days blend together and amplify negative emotions. Creating a sense of structure during these uncertain times can help to soothe nerves. Take some time out of your day to figure out all of the activities that were important to you before the global pandemic. Did you go to the gym everyday? Try to workout at home (there are plenty of free workouts on youtube). Create a detailed schedule and stick to it. Be sure to include  when to wake up, shower, work, exercise, and most importantly, when you can relax. Hopefully this will help to create some semblance of normalcy.

2. Limit your news intake

It is important to keep up-to-date with information regarding the Coronavirus, especially when it concerns regulations or guidelines for public interactions in your area. But obsessing over the latest Coronavirus news can be  unhealthy and detrimental to your mental health. Consider limiting your news intake to just one or two times a day. Also, remember to check the reliability of your news source. One of the best sources of information about the Coronavirus is the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Another great resource for mental health coping strategies during these unprecedented times is NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), which we encourage everyone to read. 

3.Stay physically active

WHO, otherwise known as the World Health Organization, strongly recommends that everyone finds a way to stay physically active during self-quarantine. It’s important to our health and well-being to avoid remaining sedentary. Try taking a few breaks during your day to go on short walks, even if it’s just around your house. And get outside if you can! Just remember that if you plan on exercising outside, to do so by abiding by the CDC guidelines.

Common myths about online learning

Online learning can mean different things to different people. As technology continues to transform the way humans consume information and interact with others, universities have risen to the challenge of providing high-quality digital learning opportunities. But despite today’s prevalence of top-tier online programs and courses, many misconceptions about online learning remain. To deconstruct some of these myths, we sat down with Christie Barone, Assistant Director of Enrollment Management at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies.

GPS: In your experience speaking with prospective graduate students, what are the most common myths you’ve heard about online learning?

Christie Barone: Many prospective students think they are going to be in a large class. We cap all GPS classes at 20 students to ensure that everyone is receiving a quality, engaging education. Related to that, some prospective students are concerned that instructors will be inaccessible. Our instructors provide direct feedback on assignments and are heavily involved in discussion posts. 

There still seems to be a stigma around online learning. We get a lot of questions about whether a student’s diploma will contain some sort of disclaimer about distance learning. At Brandeis, graduates receive an official university diploma. There is no mention about their programs being online. 

GPS: What would you tell a prospective student who is wondering whether online learning is right for them?

Barone: I would say to someone who is working full-time and trying to figure out how to balance everything that our online format allows him or her the flexibility to choose when they complete their coursework. They do not have to be online at a certain time. Many students (especially those who have been out of school for a while) wonder if they’ll be able to fit graduate school into their already busy lives. Students can take up to two courses before they apply to a program. This is a great opportunity for students to get used to fitting coursework into their schedule and see if online learning is a good fit. I have seen many students have such a great experience that they end up applying to Brandeis. 

GPS: Some students considering online learning might be worried about the remoteness of an online classroom. How do you address this concern? 

Barone: Brandeis GPS students truly get to know their classmates and instructors. This can be through discussion and social forums, group projects, connecting on LinkedIn for networking, and even having many of the same classes with students who started the same program as you at the same time. All Brandeis students have access to Zoom conferencing services for free, and that’s a great way to video chat with your instructor and see them face-to-face. A lot of instructors will be available for phone appointments, via email, and sometimes through a private discussion forum.  Finally, while students technically never have to come to campus, we would love to meet you!  Students do receive ID cards, which grant them access to all campus services and facilities, including the gym and the library. We also invite students to attend our on-campus commencement ceremonies, and we live-stream the ceremonies as well. 

GPS: What makes the Brandeis GPS online learning experience different from other universities?

Barone: Our course content is built in-house. Our instructional designers who create courses and work with faculty are part of Brandeis University, and the whole division is driven to achieve the university’s standards of excellence. Our faculty go through a rigorous, six-week training program to prepare them for the unique nature of teaching online. Going back to our earlier conversation about online learning myths, there’s a misconception that learning online is easier than a more traditional on-campus program, but that’s not true here. These are graduate-level courses and students put in a lot of work to reach their academic — and ultimately professional — goals.

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is committed to creating programs and courses that keep today’s professionals at the forefront of their industries. To learn more, visit www.brandeis.edu/gps.

4 Reasons to Study Health and Medical Informatics

1. Innovate healthcare delivery and improve patient care. Today’s health and medical informatics professionals have the opportunity to truly impact patient care and healthcare delivery. As information systems within the health and medical industry grow more complex with evolving technologies, organizations need leaders who can stay on top of new ways to develop and implement IT solutions to improve patient care, protect medical data privacy, and leverage information systems to make more strategic decisions.

2. Earn a more competitive salary. Your investment in higher education will pay off. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median salary for health informatics professionals with a master’s degree is $20,000 more than those with a bachelor’s. Additionally, specializing in health informatics can boost your career prospects. According to the University of San Diego, the average health IT professional can expect to earn $25,927.52 more than general IT professional each year.

3. Open yourself up to a variety of job options. There are many ways to apply a health and medical informatics degree. Graduates develop the skills necessary to create, manage and evaluate information technology systems that are constantly changing in response to new innovations. Health informatics career options range from consultants to informatics nurses to project managers, and professionals can find opportunities in hospitals, labs, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and more.

4. Join a growing field. The health informatics industry is growing fast. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth for health information technicians is 13% between the years 2016 to 2026, which is higher than the average growth rate for all occupations.

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies offers a Master of Science in Health and Medical Informatics that prepares students to improve patient and healthcare outcomes as well as organizational performance and efficiencies . The 30-credit program is fully online and designed to support professionals who are working full time. Learn more here.

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is committed to creating programs and courses that keep today’s professionals at the forefront of their industries. To learn more, visit www.brandeis.edu/gps

Student Spotlight: Denny Singh

Brandeis announces commitment to open source movement

Brandeis University and Open Source Initiative to launch new educational partnership
Resources designed to fill key skills gaps as open source industry matures.

PORTLAND, OR – Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) will partner with The Open Source Initiative® (OSI) to provide new educational offerings for the open source community, the university announced at OSCON 2019. 

As more companies start leveraging Open Source Software to reduce costs, decrease time to deployment and foster innovation, the organizations that have realized success as open source consumers are now extending their participation within open source communities as collaborators and contributors. This shift can create new challenges to traditional business processes and models, requiring dedicated policies, programs and personnel to ensure that the investments in open source projects produce the desired benefits while still aligning with the values of the open source communities. The Brandeis GPS-OSI partnership will help address the growing demand for expertise within organizations seeking to authentically collaborate with, and productively manage, open source resources. 

“Understanding how to assess, engage, and contribute to open source communities while also delivering value to your company is the next generation skill set employers are looking for,” said Patrick Masson, general manager of the Open Source Initiative. “We’re thrilled to work with Brandeis to help continue the incredible growth of open source software and projects.”

Learn more about the new specialization in Open Source Technology Management

True to open source software process and principles, the educational offerings coming out of the partnership will be crowd-sourced and jointly developed by an advisory board comprised of university curriculum development experts and senior open source advocates from Amazon, Red Hat, Bloomberg, Twitter and other leading companies. 

“Brandeis GPS is known for developing programs that keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in technology,” said Dr. James La Creta, the university’s chief information officer and chair of the Master of Science in Technology Management program. “Much like the other graduate programs at Brandeis GPS, open source technology’s flexibility, speed, and cost-effectiveness makes it extremely desirable for organizations. It yields a better quality product, creates a culture of collaboration, and attracts curious and innovative talent that all CIO’s covet.”

Courses and other initiatives are currently in development, and the university expects to announce more information about the first open source educational program later this year. Visit www.brandeis.edu/open-source to learn more.

About Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies
Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) offers fully online, part-time graduate programs, specializations, and professional development courses in today’s most in-demand fields. With graduate programs that include Technology Management, Information Security Leadership, User-Centered Design, and Digital Innovation for FinTech, Brandeis GPS strives to provide programs that empower students to be on the leading edge of advancements in technology and innovation. Courses are led by industry experts who deliver professional insights and individualized support. Brandeis GPS is dedicated to extending the rigorous academic standards that make Brandeis University one of the top institutions in the country to a diverse population seeking to advance their careers through continuing studies. 

About The Open Source Initiative

Founded in 1998, The Open Source Initiative protects and promotes Open Source Software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a public charity with global vision based in California. For more information about the OSI, please see, opensource.org.

Meet the newest GPS faculty members

Our July session is just around the corner, and we are excited to welcome the newest faculty members to Brandeis University. These industry leaders come to Brandeis GPS with expertise and established networks within their fields. We have no doubt that the knowledge and experience they bring will provide for meaningful learning opportunities in their online classrooms.

Michelle Venezia: Foundations of Project Management

Michelle Venezia is the Director of the Information System Division’s Project Portfolio Office at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She has 20+ years of global experience in business development and project management, spanning the  IT, healthcare, medical device and defense industries. She received an MBA from Pennsylvania State University, a BS in Industrial Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo and holds the Project Management Professional (PMP), Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP), and Portfolio Management Professional (PIMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). Learn more about Foundations of Project Management here.

Timothy Song: Bioinformatics Scripting and Databases with Python

Timothy Song, MS, is a bioinformatics engineer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. He works on creating tools for the cancer informatics pipeline and aiding oncologists in their research. His prior work includes analyzing Influenza viral diversity in human populations from next generation sequencing data. Learn more about Bioinformatics Scripting and Databases with Python here.

David Swiniarski: Perspectives on Information Technology

David Swiniarski, MBA, is a Managing Consultant with Norima Consulting where he leads strategic information technology programs and projects for clients in alignment with their firm’s business strategy. Leveraging his business architecture skills, he has successfully delivered programs and projects related to the strategic competencies of IT governance, transformation, risk management and regulatory compliance in the Financial Services industry. He received a MBA from Suffolk University. Learn more about Perspectives on Information Technology here.

Robert Lipscomb: Agile Software Development

Robert “Kirk” Lipscomb is a Technology Manager with 40 years of experience in software development. Currently API Development Manager for Fiserv, a major FinTech company, Kirk has owned a software consulting firm and has managed development teams in a variety of industries. He has a strong track record of successful agile transformations, even in industries like defense contracting where he managed a team supporting military operations on-site in Baghdad, Iraq. Kirk has a BS in Computer Science from Texas A&M and an MBA in Technology Management from the University of Colorado. Learn more about Agile Software Development here.

Sarah Pagliacio: User Experience Design

Sarah Pagliacio, MA, ALM, is the Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at Black Pepper, a digital strategy consultancy that provides customer research, user experience design, and usability testing services. Sarah leads a team that delivers award-winning large-scale content-managed websites and complex mobile and desktop web apps for higher education, financial services, not-for-profit, and healthcare organizations. Her research interests include artificial intelligence and machine learning in Shakespeare and the user-centered design process. She received her BA and MA in psychology from Boston University and an ALM in English Literature from Harvard Extension School. Learn more about User Experience Design here.

Daniel Pineo: Machine Learning

Dr. Daniel Pineo has over 15 years of broad expertise developing advanced machine learning, computer vision, and artificial intelligence algorithms. He specializes in developing robust, high-performance algorithms for bespoke hardware platforms. He works as Director of Algorithm Development for L3 Technologies, and prior to that was Senior Principal Research Engineer for BAE Systems. Learn more about Machine Learning here.

Dragan Grigorjev: Risk Management in Projects and Programs

Dragan Grigorjev, MBA, PMP, CSM, is a Senior Technical Program Manager in Information Technology Services Industry. He leads all aspects of program management for strategic initiatives that transform the global enterprise business systems. His responsibilities include establishing best practices, governance frameworks, PMO standards, procedures, and quality objectives including metrics and KPls for assessing progress of strategic technology programs. Learn more about Risk Management in Project and Programs here.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

 

How to balance sunshine and studying

To many graduate students who follow a more traditional academic schedule, summer means pressing pause on their journeys toward an advanced degree. For part-time, online graduate students in programs designed to run all year, summer provides students an opportunity to continue the momentum and complete a degree in less time than they would if their program followed a conventional dual-semester model.

Students enrolled in these types of programs may wonder how their course commitments will impact summer travel and vacation. But taking a summer course does not need to mean the end of your summer fun. Here are some tips for balancing your course load while still enjoying your family, friends, or solo beach time.

Create a realistic plan

As soon as your summer course syllabus is available, read through it. Make note of any big assignments, exams, and final projects. If you know that you are going to be vacationing or having a busy week, then plan to complete your assignments ahead of schedule. Be honest with yourself about how much time you are going to need for your course. One of the worst things you can do when trying to be efficient with coursework is not planning enough time for your assignments; it creates more stress and can lead to work that is not up to par with your abilities. Make time for your assignments by creating a weekly routine that is practical for you. Here are some time management apps that can help you do just that.

Make use of technology

Make use of Wi-Fi and the portability/mobility that comes with an internet connection. Brandeis GPS is an example of a school that allows you to take online classes from any location. You can download course materials directly to your mobile device or laptop while traveling, and also access your classroom while on the go (or by the pool).

Utilize the small moments

Whether you are hanging by the beach or travelling to Japan, there are always small moments when you are on the move but can find a break. There may be no Wi-Fi on a plane or in a car, but you can use the travel time to prep your next discussion response, read through feedback from your instructor, or jot down ideas for your final project. By taking advantage of these spare moments, you may not even realize you’ve chipped away at school-related deadlines.

Find a program that sets you up for success

Brandeis GPS’s upcoming 10-week session runs from July 17 to Sept. 24. Courses are fully online and designed with a learning experience that supports adults working full-time.

Students interested in a Brandeis GPS graduate program can take courses before starting the application process. View the July course schedule here. To speak with an enrollment advisor, contact gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

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