Anita Gordy-Watkins is the associate vice chancellor of Global Economic Development for the Dallas County Community College District. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oklahoma State University.

(Photo Courtesy of Anita Gordy-Watkins)

(Photo Courtesy of Anita Gordy-Watkins)

Why did you pursue a master’s degree?

“I felt that I needed additional education to be competitive in my field. As I entered the workplace at that point, I had a better understanding of additional education that would be useful in my field. This helped me to better select a more targeted focus for my master’s program. My undergraduate degree was in marketing and education, while I chose to focus my master’s degree to hone in on human resource development and occupational education.”

What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree?

“I would encourage them to take this opportunity to really research master’s degree educational options that align more definitively with advancing their longer-term career and personal goals. There are many options for researching this online. One easy way to do that is to research job titles and listings for positions that individuals would ultimately be interested in at the height of their career – more so than at the entry-level point. This approach will determine what education would be most advantageous. I would also encourage them to visit with employers and individuals who are involved in their chosen career field to seek their advice.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master’s degree?

“My greatest challenge was working toward the degree while working full-time, particularly in a demanding job that required a great deal of travel. I would note that distance learning and online learning options were available, but they certainly were not as prolific at the time that I was pursuing my master’s degree. Although this can indeed present less of a barrier for working adults now, depending on the nature of the career field and the program of study, face-to-face learning can be more beneficial to the student.”

What was the biggest reward for earning the master’s degree?

“There is no question that achieving my master’s degree has prepared and credentialed me for pursuing higher-level positions over the course of my career. My greatest gain was how much I learned from my peers who were, for the most part, also working adults in similar career fields. In my particular program, the education environment was very different from what I had experienced in my undergraduate program. It was much more contextualize and applied by the faculty who understood that they were creating a learning environment that valued the expertise of students who already were working in their field, and they utilized this fact to create learning and experiences to equip students to advance to the next level of their profession. This approach created networks of expertise, contacts and in-roads that I have utilized all through the course of my career.”

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com