Working Mom Finds Online Programs a Perfect Fit for Busy Lifestyle


Working Mom Finds Online Programs a Perfect Fit for Busy Lifestyle

After earning an associate degree at a local community college, Tanna Rosalez wanted to continue her education. She spent many hours researching schools and programs before deciding on the University of Oklahoma College of Professional and Continuing Studies.

“I knew that I wanted to complete my undergraduate degree,” she said. “I researched many different universities in Oklahoma before choosing PACS. They all seemed like good programs, but something in my heart pulled me toward being a student at the University of Oklahoma, and the PACS program was a perfect fit for my life and schedule.”

Rosalez graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She loved the flexibility and course framework so much that she decided to stay at PACS for her graduate studies. She plans to graduate with a master’s degree in Human and Health Services Administration in spring 2023.

“I hope that I am being a role model for my children and showing them that if they want something, they can do it. We have made it very clear that whatever they decide to pursue, they must always put in all their efforts and be their very best. I hope that I’m the example that they need to see that you can pursue what you want, and it’s essential to set reasonable goals for yourself no matter your age.”

Online degrees manageable

“I began my Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice when I was a paralegal,” she said. “I worked for an attorney that practices criminal law, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about criminal law and working with our clients. My original plan was to apply to law school at OU after receiving my undergraduate degree, but I experienced some life changes that discoursed me from that plan.”

Rosalez, who is raising five children while working full time, said being self-sufficient, along with implementing some time management tips into her schedule, has made getting a degree manageable while taking care of her other responsibilities.

“I set time aside each week to engage in my coursework and ensure I keep up with my reading. Because I’m a wife, mother and full-time employee, weekends are my best friend for completing assignments. But honestly, if you set out a little time each day, the required classwork is maintainable,” she said. “There were only a few times that I had to reach out to an instructor when something wasn’t clear, and my instructors’ response time has always been timely.”

She said the online format sets reasonable expectations for deadlines and includes all the material students need to be successful, and the instructors are dedicated to helping students succeed. She said she took a few in-person classes while she was attending community college and prefers the online format offered by PACS.

“I haven’t had one instructor who did not engage with the class,” she said. “The instructors participate through announcements, individual and group emails, discussion posts and course material feedback. They touch all of our discussion points and concerns individually, which I think could be harder to do in a traditional, in-person class. I can tell the online professors are very dedicated to their students and the program’s success.”

Instructors go above and beyond

Rosalez said while all of her instructors were wonderful, two went above and beyond to help her successfully get through their courses ─ Chuck Gerhart and Bryan Dupler.

“Professor Gerhart was my instructor for my study-in-depth prospectus, and he was terrific. The one-on-one attention he provided, answering all my questions and even doing a video call at the beginning of the course were all the resources I needed to complete the course successfully,” she said. “Completing a SID can become discouraging and stressful, but he always spoke words of encouragement and kept me going until the finish line. I will always be grateful to have had him as my SID instructor.”

Rosalez said students were allowed to attend an oral argument at the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals while taking Dupler’s class.

“That was a great experience,” she said. “We watched the argument, and he provided lunch afterward to discuss and ask him questions. He was always so engaging with his students and went above and beyond to help give us an experience that most students wouldn’t have the opportunity to do.”

Rosalez hopes to obtain an executive position with her employer when she completes her master’s degree. She recently added a Graduate Certificate in Organizational Leadership to her graduate program to help her reach that goal.

“My PACS education has provided me with the proper skills, tools and resources to internally apply for an executive-level position with my employer,” she said. “My five-year goal is to be a director or vice president for our development team.”

Rosalez said the support she received from PACS, and most importantly from her family, has kept her moving forward even when things weren’t easy.

“I’ve been so lucky to have such a great support group through my educational venture, my husband and kids especially,” she said. “I have to give them a heads up that it’s ‘homework day,’ and they allow me to lock myself in my room and get to work. When I feel overwhelmed or frustrated, my husband is my biggest encourager.

“The professors, course material and support from administration has been nothing but excellent. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with OU and always speak highly of its programs when asked by friends and family,” she added. “If I had to list the names of everyone who has supported me while obtaining my degree, it would be a page long. I’m very fortunate.”

Serving as a role model

Rosalez said while she decided to go back to college to better her career opportunities, she hopes her decision also serves as a role model for her children. She talks about her own homework assignments together over dinner with her kids, and she helps them with theirs. She said having a common goal of succeeding in school has been a bonding experience for the entire family.

“I had my daughter when I was 18, right out of high school, so college was not a priority for me at that time like it is for most kids. I started, then stopped because I wanted to focus on raising her, and I was working full time, barely making ends meet,” she said. “When the time was right, I dove head-first into college, and I’ve been going at it for about seven years. A running joke in our house is, ‘If I can make good grades in college, then you all have no excuses to not make good grades in school!’

“I hope that I am being a role model for my children and showing them that if they want something, they can do it. We have made it very clear that whatever they decide to pursue, they must always put in all their efforts and be their very best. I hope that I’m the example that they need to see that you can pursue what you want, and it’s essential to set reasonable goals for yourself no matter your age.”

Are you ready to begin a degree program or finish one you already started? It’s not too late. Find out more about the online programs offered by the OU College of Professional and Continuing Studies by visiting our website.

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.