The Brandeis GPS blog

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Tag: What’s Your Why

#WhatsYourWhy Wednesday with Tara Holderith

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.

Last fall, we held a scholarship competition and asked our students to tell us their story — their why — behind their decision to enroll in a graduate program. This series will profile our scholarship winners.

Read previous #WhatsYourWhy Wednesday posts here, here and here.

Tara with one of her students

Tara with one of her students

Graduate Professional Studies: I’m here with Tara Holderith, a student in our Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology program. Congratulations on winning our first “What’s Your Why” scholarship! Tell us where you’re from.

Tara Holderith: Thank you! I’m from Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania.

GPS: How many courses have you taken with GPS so far?

TH: I’ve taken four courses. My first term was this past summer, and I took Principles of Online Instructional Design and Professional Communications. In the fall, I took Learning Analytics, which was a new course, and Advanced Instructional Design. This term I also enrolled in two courses.

GPS: Could you tell us about your day job?

TH: I’ve been teaching for 18 years. I am currently a sixth grade mathematics teacher in New Jersey.

GPS: What was the main driver in helping you decide to go back to school to get your graduate degree?

TH: I had both professional and personal reasons. Last winter, our school principal approached me and started a conversation about pedagogy and instructional design. He realized my passion and challenged me to go back to school. At first I was like “with what time?” But after careful consideration and some research, the rest is history.

GPS: What do you hope to gain professionally with this degree?

TH: Professionally, I want to gain more cutting-edge skillsets. My passion is designing innovative pedagogy according to best practices, so I’m hoping to develop even more skills in addition to those I have already learned in just four classes here at GPS.

GPS: Glad to hear! What do you hope to gain personally out of the program?

TH: I’ve come to the program to be a lifelong learner and learning for learning’s sake. I already have a master’s degree so getting another one isn’t going to directly benefit me financially. However, in terms of my personal growth and my desire to continue learning, this was the perfect opportunity for me and it was directly aligning with what I was looking for.

GPS: Awesome! Why do you think you will be successful in graduate school?

TH: I was just having this conversation with one of my supervisors and I said that when it comes to work ethic, there is no limit with me. Time is never an issue because I will do whatever it takes to complete the workload. I do have three children so it has cost me sleep on different occasions, but because I love educating and bettering myself it is really no bother to me.

GPS: Can you think of an example of any course assignment that you have directly utilized in a current or previous role at work?

TH: I was thinking about this question recently, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are so many different assignments that have actually been relevant. As a mother of three working full-time, time is very limited so I’ve been combining a lot of my work duties with my school responsibilities. I’ve found there is a lot of alignment, which has enabled me to give 100 percent to both my job and school.

GPS: Now a couple of fun questions. What do you like to do outside of work and school?

TH: Two of my children are USA swimmers so I spend a lot of time at swim meets. When I’m not doing that, I enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on, and I like to exercise and hike.

Enjoying nature with family

Enjoying nature with family

GPS: Are you a swimmer too?

TH: I was, but I always say that even though I am not a swimmer now, chlorine still seems to be my perfume and colleagues have even said that they can smell it on me.

GPS: Anything else you would like to add?

TH: Just that I’m extremely grateful to be part of this program. It has been such an opportunity for me and like I said before, I’m doing it because I love learning and so far it has been exactly what I expected plus more. I’ve developed a great cohort of classmates already and I really enjoy the diversity in terms of our professional experience.

#WhatsYourWhy Wednesday with Patrick McGraw

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.

Last fall, we held a scholarship competition and asked our students to tell us their story — their why — behind their decision to enroll in a graduate program. This series will profile our scholarship winners.

Read previous #WhatsYourWhy Wednesday posts here and here.

 

Patrick Mcgraw - Brandeis GPS online Education - Brandeis GPS blogGraduate Professional Studies: I’m here with Patrick McGraw, a student in our Master of Science in Strategic Analytics program. Congratulations on winning our first “What’s Your Why” scholarship! Tell us where you’re from.

Patrick McGraw: Hi, I’m Patrick McGraw, and I live in Bergen County, New Jersey.

GPS: How many courses have you taken with GPS so far?

PM: I’m currently on my third course with GPS.

GPS: Great! Tell me more about what you do for work.

PM: I am a senior vice president and general manager at Ipsos MMA.  We are a marketing effectiveness consultancy firm based in New York with offices in Norwalk, CT and Chicago. We are also opening international offices in London.

GPS:  What was the main driver in helping you decide to go back to school to get your graduate degree?

PM: The main driver has always been a focus on continuous learning and development, and this is something that leaders I’ve worked with throughout my career have been big champions of. But another big thing is that my industry is at a point of change from a marketing standpoint — there have been huge shifts from traditional marketing tools and tactics into digital marketing and the realms of social media.

Ultimately, I decided it was time to refresh my industry experience  with the latest academic perspectives so that I could continue to drive value for my clients and for my company, and to most effectively coach and develop the people who work with me and for me.

GPS: What made you choose GPS over some other programs that you considered?

PM:  I felt that Brandeis has a nice mix of focus on leadership and the application and integration of the work into a business environment. This is my second master’s, so I was looking for an integrative approach that teaches you to elevate the application in addition to updating the technique.

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GPS: You’ve already touched on this a bit, but is there anything else you hope to gain professionally once you complete the program?

PM: My goal is to be an effective business partner for the clients we serve and to be able to bring the most updated, wide-range perspective and thinking to my work. I want to make sure I’m being the most able coach and developer in the organization that I lead. There is also an underlying personal satisfaction. I love to learn and extend what I’m thinking about in my work every day. GPS really drives you and forces you to do that as part of the process.

GPS: What do you think it takes to be successful at completing a program like this?

PM: You have to have the motivation to do it, and you have to be disciplined about setting aside a good block of time during
the week to do work, whether that is a weekend morning or “on the fly.”

GPS: Can you think of an example where you have been able to directly apply your coursework to what you do at your job?

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with family

PM: Yes, there are a range of applications that come up in this job that really make me think about applying what I’ve learned in my courses. This includes taking the business intelligence perspective I gained through my first course to polishing up on my statistics last summer to even my most recent leadership class. These applications have given me the opportunity to rethink my role in my
organization, and how to coach and develop the team that I lead and the colleagues I work with every day.

GPS: What do you like to do outside of the class and the office?

PM: I focus my extra time on my family. I have a wife and three children, and it’s important that we carve out time for each other. I enjoy spending my free time being adventurous.  My son and I go on a rafting and rock-climbing trip every summer. I also like to fish with my brother and father. I do a lot of outdoor activities to balance out all the desk time.

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

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#WhatsYourWhy Wednesday with Kristin Cataquet

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.

Last fall, we held a scholarship competition and asked our students to tell us their story — their why — behind their decision to enroll in a graduate program. This series will profile our scholarship winners.

Read Part 1 of #WhatsYourWhy Wednesday here.


travel-kcataquet-e1458147356686Graduate Professional Studies:
 I’m here with Kristin Cataquet, a student in our Master of Science in Strategic Analytics program. Congratulations on winning our first “What’s Your Why” scholarship! Go ahead and introduce yourself.

Kristin Cataquet: Thank you! My name is Kristin Cataquet. I’m from Washington D.C. but currently live in Boston.

GPS: How many courses have you taken with GPS so far?

KC: I have taken six courses, and I’m taking two this semester.

GPS: Wow, you’re almost done!

KC: Yes, and I am very excited about that!

GPS: Tell me more about what you do for work.

KC: I am a quality data analyst at Keurig Green Mountain, the single-serve coffee brewer. My responsibilities differ by the hour. I often work with engineers and leadership; looking at different analytical models to gain insight and make better decisions for our company.

GPS: What made you want to go back to school to get your graduate degree?

KC: When I was moving to Boston, I realized that a lot of the jobs that I was applying to preferred candidates with master’s degrees. I decided to do some research and see what kind of graduate programs are out there, and Brandeis came up. I travel a lot for work, and Strategic Analytics was one of the only programs that offered the subject matter I wanted while still enabling me to do my job the way I need to.

At first, I was just looking for that graduate school check mark. But since starting classes and even before then, I started to realize that I really do enjoy bettering myself and becoming better every day. GPS has really helped me fulfill that want and that need.

GPS: That’s great to hear, and it also segues into my next question: what made you choose Brandeis over the other schools you considered?

KC: It was a combination of the online nature of the program, the availability of the instructors and just the overall coursework. I took an online class during undergrad and felt like I did not learn anything and was under-challenged. But it’s a completely different story at GPS. The program is incredibly challenging, and I find it awesome and effective in terms of learning and retaining the information because while you’re partially self-teaching, you have guidance. You have the advantage of studying subject matter that is as high-level or low-level as you want. That option is necessary for students in analytics, where every job and company is different. You want to learn as much as possible in as little amount of time to make yourself more valuable.

GPS: What else do you hope to get out of this program?

KC: I work in a company where analytics is a relatively new field, and a lot of the higher-level employees in our department have left. This has given lower-level employees the opportunity to lead the way, and it would be great to be able to do that accurately and effectively. So, my goal is not necessarily a promotion, but to feel more confident in my own abilities and what I’m capable of doing. I’ve learned that I really do love what I do. It’s kind of like figuring out that you’re a really good soccer player and then pushing yourself to become a professional soccer player. I’ve realized that I’m good at this, but I want to be really good at this.

GPS: Speaking of soccer, what are some of your hobbies outside Keurig and the classroom?


kcataquet-salsa-dancing-e1458147459657KC:
Besides my full-time job, I work part-time at my old company. Outside of that, I probably play volleyball four times a week and my husband and I do a lot of salsa dancing. We love to hike and we love to travel.

GPS:  Is there anything else you want to tell us about your experience with Graduate Professional Studies?

KC: When I came into the program, I really thought it was going to solely focus on analytics — that I would learn tools about modeling and other new skills. And that’s partially what’s happening. But there is also a whole other level to the program that’s surprised me: it’s learning about leadership, being a good employee and being a good boss. It’s learning to conduct yourself more professionally, building communications skills, and changing your approach to how you view a company. I didn’t necessarily know that I needed those types of skills, but all of the sudden, even after just my first term at Brandeis, I’ve realized I know so much more about my company and how it operates. It has been really rewarding to not only acquire skills on the technical level but on the leadership and professional level as well.

#WhatsYourWhy Wednesday with Heather Ryder

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.

Last fall, we held a scholarship competition and asked our students to tell us their story — their why — behind their decision to enroll in a graduate program. This series will profile our scholarship winners.

GraduDadnMe-169x300ate Professional Studies: I’m here with Heather Ryder, a student in our Master of Science in Information Technology Management program. Congratulations on winning our first “What’s Your Why” scholarship! Go ahead and introduce yourself.

Heather Ryder: Thank you! My name is Heather Ryder. I’m originally from Freeport, Maine, and I currently live in Newton, Massachusetts.

GPS: Tell me a little about your day job.

HR: I work at HubSpot, a marketing and sales software company in Cambridge. I’ve been here for almost five years, and I manage our help desk team. We have a team of six people here in the U.S., and we support our employees all over the globe. I also do some system administration, and act as a liaison between different departments on projects involving IT.

GPS: Great. Let’s switch gears a bit and talk more about why you decided to go back to school.

HR: I kind of went back and forth with the decision for a while. I wanted to continue learning outside of the workplace, and I had just moved into a managerial role at work — that was something very new to me so I wanted to build my skillsets in that area. No one in my family has attended graduate school and I have a huge family (my dad is one of five, my mom is one of six).

GPS: What made you choose Brandeis over some of the other schools you looked at?

HR: I was really looking for a program that supported online learning, it’s so much easier for my schedule. Sometimes I work really long hours depending on what we’re doing, or I have nightly calls with Sydney, Singapore and some of our offices on the other side of the world. I was looking for classes that supported those types of hours.

Brandeis stuck out because Janice, my student advisor, was just so incredible with helping me through the registration process. And the fact that I could take a course prior to actually applying to see if it was a good fit for me was awesome. I’m only taking two classes per year right now, just because of work and everything, and Janice has been great about making sure I don’t miss my required courses and setting me up for success. That was something really important to me because I’m going on this journey that nobody in my family has gone on before, and it’s so valuable to have someone give me advice on being a working professional who is also in school. Her advice is so hands on point and I absolutely love that.

GPS: What do you hope to gain professionally with the degree?

HR: As I mentioned, HubSpot has international offices that we’ve opened over the course of the past three years. This is a huge area of growth for us, we really want to go global as a company. No one on our team has a lot of experience when it comes to taking an IT team global. How do you handle communications, organizational structure changes, management and leadership? I realized there’s so much expertise that I don’t have, so many things I’m going up against that I have never experienced before. A lot of the courses in my program specifically tackle these challenges. I’m really excited about all these changes on my team, but I know that I could really benefit from talking to other professionals who have gone through a similar process.

GPS: Do you have anything to expand on in terms of personal goals or how you think this degree will fit into your life outside of the office?

HR: When I first started at HubSpot I was incredibly shy. Now that I’m in a management role and help motivate people on my team, that’s like a new world for me. Just working with other professionals in my classes has helped me come out of my shell. They’ve really helped me figure out how to balance my personality versus the personalities of other individuals. This is helpful not only at work, but with personal relationships, too. I also want to show the young women in my family (my cousins who are much younger than me), that the option of getting a master’s degree is available to them. And show them that they can really do anything: they can go to grad school or undergraduate school, and work, and start a family.

GPS: Why do you think that you’re going to be successful in completing this program?

HR: Hands down, it’s because of the program’s flexibility. As I mentioned, my advisor has been great about keeping me on track with my courses. And because we have five years to finish the program, I know I don’t have to worry if something major comes up at work or in my personal life. Right now, I’m planning my wedding for this fall, so I know that I can skip a term if I need to.

GPS: Can you think of an example of any course assignments that have directly impacted anything that you’re doing at work?

HR: Absolutely! In one of my most recent classes, Strategic Information Technologies, we wrote a paper about the pros and cons of software that we want to implement into our work environment. I used the format covered in my paper to look at six different processes we’re currently using at HubSpot, I measured the benefits of each technology, and evaluated the benefits of each one. That helped us move from six knowledge-based software that we were using to three.

GPS: Tell me more about your hobbies outside of school or work.

HR: I have a six-year-old stepdaughter that I enjoy spending my weekends with. I’m also learning Russian kind of on my own. I love to write and to read, and I play board games and video games to decompress. I also really like to bake and cook, and I love watching baking and cooking shows. So a lot of different options when I have free time!

 

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