Why I chose Brandman University: 5 Students share their stories
Choosing to advance your education isn’t an easy decision. There are many factors to consider when determining which school aligns best with your personal and professional goals.
If Brandman University is on your short list of potential schools, you can learn a lot from previous students. Each one had their own set of unique needs and circumstances, but they all found their perfect fit at Brandman.
Review their stories to find out why they chose Brandman University and the impact that decision had on their lives.
A young professional progresses on the path to her dream career
After taking a year off upon earning her bachelor’s degree, 26-year-old Lindsay Baston was already eager to learn more about the field she was passionate about. She was working as an administrative assistant at a nonprofit organization when she decided to pursue a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Clinical Counseling.
She had struggled in the past with semester-long courses, so she was particularly fond of Brandman University’s program structure, offering 8-week courses on an accelerated schedule. She also appreciated the straightforward degree path that was outlined for her from day one.
“It was very easy to follow and I never felt like I had to take a class that wouldn’t count towards my end goal,” Baston explains. She adds that her instructors were always extremely responsive and willing to help. Additionally, the small class sizes allowed her to build connections with her classmates, who ended up being her biggest cheerleaders.
With graduation a few months away, Baston applied for a clinical therapist position. She was offered the job and started three weeks after obtaining her degree in 2016. Since then, she’s become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor recently accepted her dream job as a child custody recommending counselor.
For anyone who is thinking about enrolling in a program at Brandman University, Baston has some words of wisdom: “In the beginning it will feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. But no matter what obstacle you’re facing, if you focus on one class at a time – one assignment at a time – it will fly by!”
A working dad gets a push to pursue his degree
Though Marc Posner was working in the higher education field, he had never personally earned a college degree. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree was always part of his professional development plan, but it took a little encouragement from his boss during a performance appraisal before he finally committed to furthering his education.
“I view myself as someone who is true to his word, so those stark actions from my boss stung,” Posner admitted. At 44 years old, this renewed determination led him to begin evaluating schools to find a reputable institution. He considered schools in the California State University system, but came to the conclusion that Brandman University offered the flexible options he needed to balance school with his existing family and work priorities.
“Brandman clearly understands and serves adults and the unique needs of working professionals,” Posner says. He credits his enrollment coach and academic advisor for keeping him on track and focused, which ultimately helped him achieve the goal he had for so long.
“In under 20 months, I was able to complete something I had put off for so many years,” Posner shares. “Completing my bachelor’s degree has reduced so many professional barriers for me.” Adding a bachelor’s degree to his resume also paved the way for completing his graduate-level education. This opened the door for Posner to take on adjunct teaching opportunities, including a position in the Brandman University School of Arts and Sciences.
A grandmother’s determination to earn a doctoral degree
Andrea R. Hemphill was balancing demands from two ends of the spectrum – she was caring for her mother and her grandchildren, not to mention working full time as an IT systems administrator. But even while prioritizing the needs of her family, she couldn’t overlook her own goals.
“I always dreamed of getting a doctoral degree,” Hemphill says, noting that it was a big part of her plan to transition into teaching after retirement. She’d put a lot of thought into this decision, but she was still a bit concerned about juggling work, family and school.
For that reason, she was set on finding a school that provided resources and support to help her succeed. After attending a community event hosted by Brandman University, it was clear that the institution offered what she was looking for.
“I saw how motivated and excited the students were and there was a great energy in the room,” Hemphill says. This energy was enough to convince her to start on her journey toward earning a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership at age 54.
Hemphill’s feelings were right about the unparalleled support offered at Brandman, from the professors to the staff. She especially appreciated the close relationships she built with her fellow classmates. “All through the program I was never in it alone,” she says. “My cohort became my extended family.”
A single mom finds the support she needs to redefine her life
Elizabeth R. Bader had always envisioned her life as a wife and mother. But when things didn’t turn out like she’d planned, she was forced to change course. At 32 years old, she was a newly-divorced mother of a young child who was looking for a new purpose in life. She was no longer satisfied in her role as a paralegal, where she wasn’t making the money or the impact she’d once hoped to.
“I wanted a career, not a job. I wanted to do something that had meaning and not just be a cog in a wheel,” Bader says. “I wanted my person and my profession to be in sync.”
Once she realized that education was the key to unlocking her career potential, she began exploring graduate opportunities at Brandman (then Chapman University College.) It was the geographic accessibility, the program offerings and the strong reputation that convinced her to pursue her Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership there.
Once enrolled in the program, it was the outstanding support from her program administrator and professors that impressed her most. Combined with her hard work and motivation, she achieved her goal of graduating within two years and says her degree opened doors to new opportunities she wouldn’t have otherwise had.
“I had no idea what a truly special place [Brandman] is and the special feeling you can experience there,” Bader says. “The program changed me for the better – both personally and professionally.”
A father of 10 fulfils his goal in his 40s
With retirement approaching, Darrin Grondel was motivated to pursue the personal goal he had set for himself years earlier: obtaining his doctorate degree. At 47 years old, he was climbing the ranks in the Washington State Patrol system and beginning to prepare for his second career in academia, teaching graduate-level college courses.
With a demanding full-time job that required extensive travel and 10 children to care for at home, flexibility and affordability were top criteria when Grondel was evaluating higher education institutions. The Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program at Brandman University checked those boxes and more.
“Brandman provided the right academic environment, rigor and doctoral program that fit my goals,” Grondel states. He particularly enjoyed the cohort and immersion experiences that allowed him to stay connected and learn from a diverse group of students and teachers.
With the support of his family and his cohort of fellow classmates, he earned his Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership in 2016. To those who are contemplating advancing their education at Brandman University like he once was, he says to stop considering and get enrolled.
“You cannot go wrong with any of the degree programs at Brandman– you will get a top-ranked education and an opportunity to grow,” Grondel shares.
Start writing your success story
The five alumni featured above are very different, but they all have one thing in common: they found success and achieved their goals at Brandman University.
As you prepare to begin writing the next chapter of your own story, consider the possibilities that lie ahead at Brandman. Find out if it’s your perfect fit by reading our article, “8 Signs you belong at Brandman University.”
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