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Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns — M.Ed. in Administration

Ryan Burns earned his M.Ed. in Administration online from Lamar University. He works as an assistant principal for Hutto ISD in Texas. He says that earning the degree has increased his happiness in his career.

"Everywhere I turned people were willing to help because they understood that I was working to impact the future of education. I walked away confident that I was prepared, and I also knew that I could recommend the program at Lamar University to anyone."

Degree Earned:

M.Ed. in Administration

Graduation Date:

December 2016

Job Title and School District:

Assistant Principal, Hutto ISD

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

This degree has helped me reach a point in my career right now where I am truly happy and I feel like the sky is the limit. I was immediately able to secure a job as an assistant principal and start working toward my goal of one day becoming a high school principal. My experience in the program prepared me for the job and really opened my eyes to issues administrators handle that I had never considered before.

Personally, I am the happiest I have been in a long time in my career. I enjoyed the classroom and coaching, but the amount of hours I spent at school due to athletics took a toll on my family life. As a head coach, I knew I wanted to continue in a position of leadership that provided the opportunity to see my family more. This degree allowed me to get a position to do exactly that. I still work a lot of hours, but the change has been dramatic and I could not be in a better spot.

What was your single biggest takeaway from the program?

I appreciated all of the resources Lamar University provided. I felt in every course and through every experience that I was supported. There were reading materials, links to references, videos, chats and discussions that were extremely beneficial. Everywhere I turned people were willing to help because they understood that I was working to impact the future of education. I walked away confident that I was prepared, and I also knew that I could recommend the program at Lamar University to anyone.

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

10-15 hours per week.

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

I would not have been able to obtain a master's degree without the online program. I was teaching and coaching so there simply was not a way for me to attend regular classes without missing work. This program allowed me to work on my time and complete the assignments at my own pace.

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

The biggest challenge was simply finding a schedule that worked for me. As I started out, I was very stressed out about juggling the class load with my work schedule. I was able to figure it out pretty quickly and find a schedule that worked for me. I set aside time each night do to different tasks and I found I was always able to complete everything in plenty of time.

How did you hear about the online degree programs at Lamar University?

I spoke with administrators on campus and one of our assistant principals had been through the program at Lamar University. He highly recommended it to me.

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

Lamar provided options that were affordable, and I wanted a degree from a school that people had actually heard of. There are other options out there, but those others wanted more money and they were schools nobody had ever heard of before. Lamar was a perfect fit.

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

This program will be whatever you want to make of it. Lamar will provide you with opportunities to learn and grow if you are willing to put in the time. Keep an open mind, listen to your professors, collaborate with others in your classes and work hard. There will be times you get stressed but Lamar really makes it easy to be successful.

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

To be honest, I got to the finish line before I knew it was that close. The way the program is broken down, you get through each class in a reasonable amount of time and then you are suddenly finished. I think what helped me the most was knowing that I was going to have that master's that I wanted for so long, and I was going to be able to go out and get the job that I wanted because of it.

In addition, my family helped me get to the finish line. I have a son who is in middle school and I wanted to set an example for him. I wanted him to see how you can earn good grades through hard work and determination. He was really a driving factor in that I wanted to serve as a strong role model for him.

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

My family couldn't be more proud. My son was excited and he always wanted to ask about my grades because I always talk to him about his grades. It was really a great experience through having my wife, son, mom and dad all watch me walk across that stage when it was all done.

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

The only thing I would have done differently is communicate more with others in the program. I enjoyed the collaboration that took place with them, but others seemed to really talk with each other a lot more and shared ideas through social media. I should have opened myself up to that more instead of buckling down and trying to figure out everything on my own most of the time. My communication with them really just came through message boards and assignments. I didn't share experiences with them as much and I would have liked to hear their thoughts and feelings on some things.

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