By Fatima Magana '22
ALLIANCE- It has been three years since the world began working and attending school remotely due to a global pandemic. Although, we were unsure if the new norm for the time being would work, online graduate programs have existed since the 1990s.
September 15th nationally recognizes online learning, and the University of Mount Union is proud of its graduate programs and students who further their academic career post-graduate as a Purple Raider.
Dr. Wendy Ziems-Mueller, director of the Master of Business Administration program and professor of several leadership, management, and marketing courses explained she is student-centered and making an impact in their lives fills her with happiness.
“The first graduating class of the program finished their journey at Mount Union in May 2023, and we still keep in touch regardless of it being due to a resume or a job application,” said Ziems-Mueller.
Ziems-Mueller works along Dr. Stephen Craig, director of digital learning and design and Dr. Mandy Capel, professor and director of graduate programs in the School of Education to carry out plans for new online graduate programs.
“I am excited knowing that building a program for our graduate school will enhance the growth of Mount Union,” said Ziems-Mueller. “We are adding to the Mount Union legacy.”
Craig, who has taught and developed in a digital setting since 2010, works alongside graduate faculty to build and help operate online courses, overseeing the development of those courses at Mount Union and maintaining their quality.
“I began working at Mount Union in the middle of the pandemic in 2020, during that time we were dealing with a lot of emergencies online,” said Craig. “Since then, we have been able to refine our policies and procedures to assure that we are providing the best online experience.”
He also helped Ziems-Mueller build the MBA program. To ensure that all standards of a graduate program and therefore, courses are met, Craig follows the criteria that Quality Matters sets for colleges and universities’ online programs.
“Online graduate programs are becoming the main vehicle for adults pursuing a post-secondary education due to their flexibility with peoples’ work life and unforeseen events,” said Craig. “My favorite part of my role is getting to help faculty better the learning experiences for students along with receiving feedback from students themselves.”
Bailey Timmons M'23, graduate student pursuing the Master of Business Administration in Leadership and Innovation will graduate this fall, attesting to the fact that Mount Union’s graduate school focuses on students’ needs while preparing them for a successful career.
“I always knew that I wanted to further my education although I thought I would pursue a law degree because my dad is a lawyer, and I worked in law firms, that never felt right,” said Timmons. “When I learned about the MBA program offered at Mount Union; I was fascinated, applied, and was accepted.”
Timmons explained that she has learned the importance of time management along with balancing her academic, personal, and professional lives. Along with time management, she has become holistic and a critical thinker.
“I have learned to apply what I learn in my courses in my professional career, and I can connect the dots between my professional career and what I have learned in the program,” said Timmons.
Erin West, campus visit manager at Mount Union will graduate in May 2024 with a MBA in Leadership and Innovation degree. She has worked at Mount Union for 10 years and pursuing a master’s degree would enhance her career, allowing her to continue working with students.
“My strengths are in the leadership portion of the program although learning about business management has helped me understand why math is vital for organizations; it helps build people’s character,” said West.
West explained that she enjoyed Dr. Perry Hahn’s Idea, Development, and Innovation course because she learned how to carry out a business plan, manage money, be a good team player, and be creative.
“Everyone has asked me what I will do after graduating, and my hope is to broaden my skills in my current position and be an asset for Mount Union by being versatile in the enrollment world,” said West.
Both Timmons and West expressed that the graduate faculty at Mount Union are encouraging and supportive of students’ goals.
Mount Union’s Master’s in Education program excels nationally as it was tied for the number one ranking for online master’s in education by U.S. News and World Report. Capel explained that the first online graduate program at Mount Union was the education program which was designed for all graduate students to partake in thoughtful communication with their peers and professors.
“I enjoy witnessing the active interaction among students in our online courses,” said Capel. “I especially enjoy their interaction as they navigate challenging conversations and delve into difficult topics facing educational leaders.”
Capel highlighted the benefits of online education, emphasizing its accessibility, flexibility, and the opportunity it provides for students to collaborate with peers and professors from diverse backgrounds in a supportive environment.
Christian Lopez '21, M'23, director of transfer and readmission at Mount Union, obtained a Master in Educational Leadership degree from our M.Ed program in May 2023. While attending school online, Lopez learned to balance his academic and professional lives as he worked on campus before transitioning into his full-time position.
"The faculty within the program really want their students to succeed and are accessible when needed throughout the academic year," said Lopez. "I am grateful to be a part of this program and I would strongly recommend anyone looking to further their education to consider our M.Ed. program."
While the pandemic made us doubt of the potential of online learning, it is needless to say that the online learning environment has been and still is successful throughout its existing time.
Learn more about graduate programs at Mount Union by visiting www.mountunion.edu/academics/graduate-degrees.