Alisha Cunningham, M.Ed

Kathy Leonard Green, M.Ed.

"The online option made my degree possible. I was able to work, take care of my kids, and earn a degree from home. It was the best fit for my needs."

Degree Earned:

M.Ed. in Educational Administration online

Graduation Date:

December 2013

Job Title

Assistant Principal

How has this degree affected your professional outlook? What about personally?

I worked as a teacher for 18 years before deciding to go back to school. I needed to change my direction. I have always been a leader in my school. I worked on projects and took on extra duties to make things run more efficiently around my building. I was encouraged by my principal to pursue my degree and principal's certification.

After my divorce in 2011, I needed to change my way of thinking and find a way to raise my two kids on my own. My degree from Lamar University enabled me to be financially independent and provide for my kids. I needed to build my confidence and self-worth. Accomplishing my goals has helped me get back on my feet emotionally and financially.

My children watched me struggle, grow and succeed throughout the process. I know that they are proud of me and I am proud of myself.

What was your single biggest takeaway from the program?

I think my biggest "takeaway" from the Lamar program would have to be my feeling of accomplishment. It was difficult to overcome my own self-doubts and fears about going back to school. After I got started, I was encouraged and driven to finish. Now that I have completed the program and started my new adventure in administration, I feel a renewed sense of purpose and drive for the education of young children.

How much time per week did you spend on your studies?

5-6 hours.

Describe how having an online option made a degree more accessible for you.

The online format of this degree program is the reason I choose Lamar. I have a friend from church that had gotten her degree from Lamar. I asked her lots of questions and researched the program. The staff and website made everything so easy to get started.

At the time I started my master's degree, I had an 8 and 12 year old. They took up a lot of my time and I was certain that driving 30 minutes each way to the closest university was out of the question. If I was going to make this happen, it had to be a complete online program.

What was one of the biggest challenges during the program, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge during this program was time. I was working full time as a reading interventionist and raising two kids by myself. At school, I spent every conference period and lunch break in the office, learning everything I could from my mentor. At home, I used the one night a week my kids went to their dad's house, to write my papers, do research and read articles. I spent many late nights studying, but it was well worth it in the end.

Why did you choose to earn your advanced degree from Lamar University?

The online option made my degree possible. I was able to work, take care of my kids, and earn a degree from home. It was the best fit for my needs.

What advice would you give to a prospective student who is considering this program?

My best piece of advice for prospective students would be to stick with it. There were times that I felt overwhelmed and wanted to give up. The end product was well worth every late night

What helped you get through the program the most? What helped you make it to the finish line?

The online interaction with the other members of the program was very helpful. We encouraged each other, shared experiences and celebrated accomplishments together. Near the end of the program, some of us ended up taking the same ILD classes and PDAS training so we were able to meet in person. I am still in contact with some of those people.

Describe your family's thoughts and feelings about you earning your degree.

My parents are extremely proud of my accomplishments. They tell everyone they know that I worked very hard to become a principal.

My children talk about their mom differently now. They know that it was difficult and they were able to watch me grow and accomplish my goals. I know that they learned very valuable lessons about perseverance and determination.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't have waited so long to start on my degree. If I had known it was available sooner, I would have started working on my master's degree much sooner.

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