A Non-Traditional Path to Academic Success
"My education is sort of all over the place, which is how I ended up finishing my degree through Eller with Arizona Online," says Jennifer Willis Enzweiler.
When Jennifer was considered for an advanced position at Durie Tangri LLP, a small law firm in San Francisco, she knew she was ready for the challenge. The catch? Jennifer didn't have the education to back up her professional experience. "The firm was willing to offer me the position, but I knew I needed the education to substantiate it."
After an extensive analysis of full-time, online programs, Jennifer decided on Eller College of Management’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. The program was flexible and worked with her schedule. Eller was also a step up from any local community college or state university within driving distance from her home. "I also valued that the classes would be the same classes that an in-person student would take and that the work would result in the same degree."
Jennifer’s academic advisor worked with her to help her get credit for as much relevant professional experience as possible, and in addition to digging up transcripts, Jennifer had her mother go through her closet in her childhood bedroom in Vancouver to find course syllabi. “I dug up whatever I could to substantiate the coursework I had already completed. I prepared a portfolio to bypass some basic English class requirements and took a math placement test. I had to complete a few semesters before starting the Eller program, and the academic advisors and success coaches I worked with were terrific."
Jennifer’s career path is also non-linear. After graduating from the British Columbia Institute of Technology's broadcast journalism program, interning at a local and national TV station, working the front desk at a luxury hotel, and a series of other service industry jobs, Jennifer took on the temporary Executive Assistant role at Durie Tangri LLP. She was then offered the position of Litigation Secretary. Jennifer admits that once an opportunity opens, she commits to it. "While I was completely unsure of the responsibilities, I said absolutely yes and quickly learned as much as I could for the position."
I accomplished so much that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.
With about a year left of her Eller degree program, Jennifer was promoted to Controller in September 2018. The Eller courses she had completed up to that point more than prepared her for her new position. "My classes continued to help me as I tackled the learning curve of my new position. The instructors were so supportive and encouraging, and almost all of them made themselves available day or night."
Jennifer says she is incredibly grateful for the professional opportunities Eller offered her. "I accomplished so much that wouldn't have been possible otherwise."
Finding a genuine support system in her program made all the difference. "They truly cared about my success which means a lot. My major advisor & success coach, Meghan Welsh, even sent me a personal note at one point enclosing a "Balancing Act" award I had won. She mailed me my graduation items too! Everyone I worked with truly went above and beyond for me."
But not all the credit can go to Eller and Arizona Online. "My parents and our close family friends raised me to understand the value of hard work, honesty, and generosity. They all taught me so much about being a team player, being flexible, and taking on whatever comes my way."
Jennifer also credits her ambition and her non-traditional path in her education and career for where she is today. "All the different jobs I've held in various places have given me stories, valuable experience and skills that I use every day in my career."