As a 40-something wife, mother of seven and grandmother of two, Mandy Newman considers herself a nontraditional student in every sense possible.
Newman earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Arkansas in 2001. She’d always wanted a master’s degree, but family and a busy career in health care administration kept her from moving toward that goal.
That all changed one day during a softball game.
“I think because I didn’t have a preset agenda, I opened myself and my thinking to new ideas and limitless possibilities. I went into this program completely uninhibited, and I am now coming out with a greater sense of self confidence that will benefit my family, my employer and myself.”
“Shortly before my 40th birthday, I was at a softball game watching my youngest child when I noticed a fellow softball mom studying in the bleachers,” Newman said. “I asked her what she was reading, and she shared it was materials for one of her MAOL classes at OU.”
Newman began questioning the other parent about the program and asked her if what she was learning in the OU College of Professional and Continuing Studies program was applicable in real life.
“She set down her highlighter, looked over at me, and replied: ‘I use what I have learned in this program every single day, personally and professionally,’” Newman said. “That was enough for me to do a little more research, which led me to see what a well-organized and valuable MAOL program OU offered.”
Newman started the program last year, and she was almost instantly able to apply what she was learning in Bob Stauffer’s Financial Leadership class to her own career. Her knowledge ended up saving her company nearly $250,000.
“Initially, I was nervous since I had never had any formal finance training and many of the concepts were quite foreign to me,” Newman said. “However, the format of the well-designed curriculum and thorough instruction from Dr. Stauffer allowed me to master many new ideas that once intimidated me.”
Toward the end of the semester, Newman was contacted by a work colleague to review a project plan for a new business development deal. While traditionally she only reviewed operations planning, she decided to test her finance skills and check the budget information, as well.
“After checking all of the calculations, I realized that my colleague had made an error in figuring the future value of money on the project, a concept we had recently learned in the Financial Leadership course,” Newman said. “A double check of the numbers revealed that there was indeed a mistake that amounted to just over $200,000.”
Newman, who will graduate in December, said the Organizational Leadership program has inspired her to continue learning as long as she’s alive. She also plans to continue applying new ideas as she learns them.
“There were no online learning platforms during my undergraduate years, and certainly no global pandemics. Career advancement is great, but I genuinely want to learn for the sake of learning, and the MAOL program has allowed me to do just that,” she said. “I think because I didn’t have a preset agenda, I opened myself and my thinking to new ideas and limitless possibilities. I went into this program completely uninhibited, and I am now coming out with a greater sense of self confidence that will benefit my family, my employer and myself.”
Interested in learning more about an OU College of Professional and Continuing Studies degree program? Visit our website for more information on our undergraduate and graduate degrees, including the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership.