Online Student Conquers Competition on Path to Promotion

Student in conversation

GEICO employee Stephanie Kay (not pictured) proves school can complement career and family.

After a long workday, Stephanie Kay lives for the sound of her daughter’s laugh. Then she tucks her child in, opens her laptop, and gets back to work.

As a GEICO employee for over 10 years, Kay knew that deciding to pursue a role in management also meant finishing her degree.

“In order to be a supervisor at GEICO, you need to either have a bachelor’s degree or be pursuing a bachelor’s degree,” she says. “It made the most sense for my career to go for business. Not just to have a degree or meet the minimum requirements, but to have something I can really utilize.”

Balancing Work and Family

With a full workweek and a growing family, Kay wanted to earn her degree online. She even started the enrollment process with another university’s online program. Then she heard about UA Online — the University of Arizona’s new digital campus.

“I’ve wanted to go to the UA for a long time, but it was out of the question because they didn’t offer [degrees] online before,” Kay says. “I work anywhere from 50 to 60 hours each week, I also have a two-year-old daughter, so the flexibility was really key for me.”

Making the Most of the UA

In addition to flexible classes, UA Online offers many employee benefits to GEICO and other corporate partners. This includes full access to University of Arizona resources such as:

  • Blue Chip Leadership. The UA’s renowned leadership development program, 100% online.
  • Wildcat Career Network. A network of UA alumni that connects students to mentors.
  • UA Counselors. Personalized guidance from UA enrollment and student success specialists.

Kay says she valued the third point the most.

“I’ve had one person that I worked with throughout the application process,” Kay says. “He called and checked on me like clockwork … and he was extremely helpful.”

Overcoming Challenges Online

With that guidance, Kay enrolled at Eller College of Management, the UA’s world-class school of business education. In the very first class, Eller was already offering up unique challenges.

“There were three groups and a panel of judges,” she says. “We had to work on an expansion project for a company … we had to sell the judges on why that company should expand that way.

“We finished with the case competition, which I was really nervous about, because I’d never presented in a setting that wasn’t face to face. But we worked through it, and our group won!”

It was an exercise in business aptitude and teamwork while acclimating to a new learning environment. After such success, some might want a break. Instead, Kay is already preparing for whatever comes next — in school, business or life.