Mastering Many Fields to Support Online Students

Posted: July 25, 2017 11:30:00 AM CDT

Amber Alexander family photoAmber Alexander has a history at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK)—and she uses it to create the best experiences possible for online students. As an online program coordinator for the Master of Arts in History program at UNK, she has completed the degree herself while balancing education with work and family.

“My main role is to serve as an advisor to graduate students,” Alexander said. “Our online students are located all over the world, and I can be a link to campus for students who can’t stop by the office. I assist them with all aspects of the program, including inquiring about admissions, applying, registering for classes, seeking approval to pursue the thesis option, presenting at professional conferences, preparing for thesis defenses and graduation, and even pursuing jobs post-graduation.”

Alexander loved history at an early age, being an avid reader of historical fiction as a child. At a teacher’s suggestion, she participated in History Day at her middle school, continuing through high school. She now serves as a judge at the History Day competition in her community.

“Although I have always loved history, I did not consider history as a career choice until after I had earned a degree and began a career in interior design,” she said. “It was at that time that I chose to go back to school and pursue a teaching degree in secondary social sciences and ultimately a Master of Arts in History.”

But she hasn’t stopped there. Alexander went back for another master’s degree at UNK, this time in the online Master of Science in Education in Instructional Technology. She says the degree path is a means for professional development in her current position, which supports undergraduate students and faculty as well as those in the online graduate program in history.

“I teach online undergraduate courses for the Department of History, and I also assist our department faculty with setting up their graduate courses,” Alexander said. “I have gained valuable knowledge and experience in my instructional technology program that assists me in the work that I do every day. Seeing things from a busy student’s perspective has also been great in helping to keep our program student-oriented.”

By taking online classes, Alexander has been able to work on her graduate education when it fits her busy schedule, which she says is often at odd times of the day and night and in short segments.

“Balance is a tough thing,” she said. “I have four children ranging in ages from one to eleven, so my personal life is always busy. Online education is the only way that I have been able to accomplish my career goals. With four children and a full-time job, I don’t have the time to attend courses in the traditional on-campus setting, so I’m thankful that UNK has done an excellent job of maintaining quality graduate education through a web-based delivery.”

Alexander plans to complete the online instructional technology master’s program later this year while continuing to cheer on students in the online M.A. in History program as they approach their own graduation milestone.

“I love when online students come to campus for graduation and bring their families along,” she said. “They are all celebrating their success together because it really does take the support of family and friends to achieve a graduate degree.”

That support is something she knows firsthand. Alexander says her husband and her extended family have been great sources of support throughout her graduate education.

“My children have also been helpful and understanding,” she said. “I hope that I am setting a good example for them and demonstrating that it is possible to achieve your goals at any point with hard work and perseverance.”

Learn more about the online Master of Arts in History or the online Master of Science in Education in Instructional Technology at UNK.

By: Rosanna Vail

Category: eCampus, General

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