Cheryl Stanga graduated from Emory University in 2008 with a double degree in political science and women's studies. She graduated right into the midst of the Great Recession. It was not a great time to graduate with liberal arts degrees—even if she had two of them. A lot of her friends were going off to law school and not getting jobs, but she knew that she had to get a job and think about improving or changing her career."
I always knew I was going to go back and get my master's degree," Stanga admitted. After she graduated, she taught for a while, but started to feel like there weren't a lot of upward advancement options in teaching. However, she did really love teaching. When put in touch by her aunt with Wendy Ruona, a professor in UGA's MEd in Adult Education online degree program, she moved through topics such as organizational development, learning design and adult education and realized that learning design and technology was the avenue she wanted to move down.
She started the MEd in Learning Design and Technology program at UGA without any promise of anything coming to fruition in her career, but she says, "because of the program, I started taking on a role of being the go-to person for technology and design and curriculum ideas."
The program itself has been a very positive experience for Stanga, who still has a year left to go until graduation. She decided to do an online program because she saw her friends' experiences with in-class grad programs and partially online programs, and wanted a program where she wasn't spending time commuting and could spend more time actually doing school. She had a small cohort within her Women's Studies major in undergrad, but she feels like she has an even closer relationship with my online professors than that. "I even remember being in an in-person undergrad class and having less interaction with professors there than my online program," Stanga says. "They know that we're in the program because we really really want to be here, and they love to get to know us."
For Stanga, UGA seemed to be the perfect program, as it was totally online and also well-rated, as evidenced by her multiple searches and finds of UGA's Learning Design and Technology on a few top 10 lists. As she progressed through the program and became more and more of an expert on learning design and technology at the Pre-K through 12 private school where she works, Stanga naturally moved into a new role. She was recently promoted to a new position as a Learning Design specialist, teaching teachers to teach.
"I very much credit the master's program for positioning me to get that promotion," she said.