In 1956, Alice Jefferson became one of the first African American students to enroll in Lamar University.
Eight years later, her daughter Mimi would enroll in the nursing program at LU. Mimi, in turn, would go on to send all three of her children to her alma mater — Kevin, Wilbert and Keeya Andrews.
Today, Keeya Andrews is in the middle of earning her Master of Science in Management Information Systems online while her sister-in-law and nephews continue the family legacy of attending Lamar University.
“Lamar is just the standard within our family,” Andrews said. “Our family history within the Beaumont area, with BISD and Lamar — that’s the first place that we consider in higher education and community service.”
Originally attending Lamar University in the mid-90s for a bachelor’s degree, Andrews decided to return to her alma mater after scrolling past a post online about the new MS in MIS program.
“I didn’t even hesitate,” she said. “I said, ‘I am going to do this.’”
It was not long before Andrews knew that she had made the right decision when she started seeing how the program gave her a deeper insight and an even deeper appreciation of her career.
Analyze, Test, Develop and Maintain
Andrews works as a Senior IT QA Analyst for an IT team that develops and maintains modules for enterprise systems. When she isn’t analyzing and testing those modules, Andrews spends her time expanding her knowledge about the latest in ERP software.
“MISY 5340: ERP Overview explains the enterprise system’s architecture and organization of data and process integration,” she said. “This is what I do for a living. I’m pretty much living what I’m learning right now!”
As her work and her education go hand-in-hand, Andrews is able to immediately contextualize what she is learning in the digital space and put it into practice.
“It’s given me an additional perspective on how I test and how I analyze software as part of my job, especially the set-up of the infrastructure and organizational data and the integration,” she said. “It’s a different perspective. It’s enlightened me to consider new perspectives on what I do as far as analysis and testing.”
Not only has the online MS in MIS program given Andrews a different perspective on her current job, it is also giving her a premium seat to see what is in store for the future.
“As far as business intelligence and analytics, we had trial access to a variety of robust reporting tools — Tableau, SAP BW Modeling, SAP Business Objects, SAP Predictive Analytics and others,” she said. “From a managerial perspective, it gives you an idea of where we’re going in the future as far as analyzing big data and how companies are starting to market to consumers based on that data.”
This kind of interconnectivity between career and education is one of the many reasons Andrews encourages others to take a serious look at what her family’s university has to offer.
Making IT Happen
Senior IT QA Analyst or not, Andrews says that anyone who is interested in pursuing higher education in the field of information systems should not be intimidated by the master’s program at Lamar University.
“My advice would be to take a chance and make it happen,” she said. “The presentation of coursework allows for the business person to achieve success with this program — even professionals with limited hands-on information technology experience would benefit greatly, as it sets forth a solid frame of reference for IT professionals working in all industries.”
Though the structure and pace of the classes is accelerated, Andrews believes that the way the information is organized makes the classes easy to follow and easy to apply on the job.
“It goes into detail about the organizational set-up and the role of each of the functionalities within the organization of the system,” she said. “You have a solid frame of reference going forward into any corporation or into any industry.”
Many prospective students find the most intimidating thing about online education is the fear that you will be all on your own, but Andrews said that there are real people behind the program will help you regardless of your skill level.
“No matter what level of information technology professional you are — whether you are novice or whether you’ve been in it for the last 25 years like I have — this program is very doable,” she said. “I was blown away by the structure of the program and the helpfulness of the professors in the program. It’s doable.”
A Tradition of Higher Learning
Between a busy home life and a fast-paced career, and all the other things that life throws in, it’s easy to see why Andrews took her time to go back to school for her master’s degree.
“My parents think it’s long overdue,” she laughed. “Due to family tradition, we’re pretty much expected to go for higher education.”
In all seriousness, the Andrews family is proud that she will be adding to the long list of degrees and certificates they have collected over the years.
“They are overjoyed and ecstatic that I’m completing this goal,” she said. “My older brother [Wilbert] completed his Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Education and also his teacher’s certificate from Lamar, and my younger brother [Kevin] completed his Bachelor of Science in Health Education in 2003 from Lamar. He has his master’s as well.”
It is likely that Andrews’ own daughter Nadiya will attend the university, as well, after graduating from her high school’s National Baccalaureate High School Diploma Program. But for now, Nadiya is a wonderful source of emotional support.
“She knows the family history,” she said. “She knows the tradition, so she’s very encouraging and she’s helping out more. We couldn’t be more proud of her. But again, I think it’s because we set the standard within our family to do your best.
“You’ve got to have the love and support of your family to achieve your goals.”
Learn more about the Lamar University online MS in MIS program.