Returning to school after being in the work force can sometimes be a challenge — which is why Michelle Arbogast, director of health science affairs at The University of Toledo, brought a few friends to share their journey.
Arbogast recently completed the Professional Master’s Cohort Program for Higher Education along with 10 other UT staff members. The program is designed for professionals already working in higher education to get their master of education degrees.“The people in it made it one of the best programs because we were learning from real life,” Arbogast said. “People had anywhere from 20 years of experience to two years of experience.”
When Arbogast learned about the program, she had spent 13 years as manager of administrative services at UT in the College of Graduate Studies and yet had never taken a graduate course. Now that her children were old enough for her to think about going back to school, she did so and convinced a few of her co-workers to join her. They began the program in 2013.
The students in the program differed when it came to years of experience, and they also came from all areas of higher education as well as different institutions. According to Arbogast, there were people from disability offices, university police, institutional technology, the registrar’s office, financial offices and more.
The experience opened her eyes to the many different needs that students have, from financial support to safety. Arbogast said she now has a better understanding of what students need, not only from learning from her classmates, but from being a student herself.
“It was interesting being a student while being a customer service representative to students,” she said. “I was experiencing the same things they were.”
In addition to Arbogast, there were 10 other UT employees who were part of the 20-person cohort: Angela Lopez, recruitment officer 2 from Undergraduate Admission; Rod Theis, deputy chief of police for the UT Police Department; Kathy Sullivan, records management officer in the Registrar Office; Tom Short, former registrar and senior student services officer; Lena Carrol, senior financial analyst in the Office of Budget and Planning; Melissa Hansen, administrative assistant 3 in the Office of Medical Education and Diversity; Tracy Jahns, administrative secretary in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences; John Cavins, senior director of enterprise business systems in Information Technology; Victoria Leidy, library administrator in Carlson Library; and Andrea Engle, academic accommodation specialist in the Office of Academic Access.
“I think the biggest thing we took away was a lifelong network of friends and colleagues,” Arbogast said.