EIU Student Completes Undergraduate Degree at Parkland College: Now Taking EIU Graduate Classes at Parkland
Celeste Blodgett always knew she wanted to finish her undergraduate degree, but raising her son came first. When her job in retail management didn’t fulfill her career goals and her son entered high school, she decided to go back to college. She had an associate’s degree and hoped that completing her bachelor’s degree would take only a couple of years. Then, she would get a better job.
Since Celeste lived in Champaign, she hadn’t considered attending EIU until a friend suggested that she consider attending undergraduate classes taught at Parkland College. Celeste made an appointment with Anna Peterson, Continuing Education Community Coordinator in the Office of Academic & Professional Development (OAPD) at Parkland College, and found out that by she could get her bachelor’s degree by attending evening or weekend classes, or even online classes at EIU at Parkland College. When EIU agreed to accept her Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Illinois Central College, Celeste was on her way to completing a bachelor’s degree.
Because Celeste is people-oriented with a background in management, Bruce Barnard, an EIU faculty member, suggested that she pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational and Professional Development (OPD). The EIU OPD program focuses on understanding the human aspects of organizations including people, processes and practices. It also concentrates on developing skills to meet workplace challenges. OPD prepares students for positions as supervisors, project leaders, change agents, and trainers in a variety of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Celeste felt that an OPD degree would best suit her interests.
For the next two and a half years Celeste attended EIU part-time at Parkland College. In December of 2012, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in OPD. Although she had originally decided to finish her degree to get a better job, Celeste got more than she anticipated. “The OPD courses and electives provided me with a better understanding of many things—not just business.” When she got her degree, she realized she wanted to learn more. That’s when Bruce Barnard suggested that she pursue a Master of Science in Training and Development, which is a natural progression from the OPD program. EIU also offers graduate-level courses at the Parkland campus location, so it was an obvious choice to further her education at EIU.
In January of 2013, Celeste started the Master of Science program in Training and Development along with a new job as a Graduate Assistant under the direction of Luke Steinke, Ph.D. As a Graduate Assistant, Celeste participates on the OPD Curriculum Committee. In addition, she is responsible for working on OPD surveys and drafting letters to alumni. Also, she has organized the Evaluator’s Guide used to evaluate student OPD portfolios. She plans to graduate in spring 2014.
When asked about her plans after graduation, Celeste replied, “I have always aspired to write creatively, to use my passion and ability to write in some professional capacity. I feel Training and Development has added to my list of abilities, but my desire to write is as strong as ever. Upon completing the graduate program, I would be interested in teaching within EIU's OPD program, pursuing independent consulting for organizations looking for Training and Development design and/or evaluation, and/or analysis and evaluation of Work Performance Technology. When considering the possibility of working within an organization, I believe myself to be a good fit for Human Resources. I would happily work in a capacity that would allow me the opportunity to develop individuals professionally, as well as organizations. Whatever I find, I hope to have the opportunity to write, either within an employment position or independently. Having both the time and energy to pursue this desire is extremely important to me.”
EIU’s association with Parkland College to provide undergraduate and graduate-level classes in the Urbana/Champaign area opens numerous opportunities for students like Celeste. More than 90 percent of the students working on bachelor’s or master’s degrees through EIU at Parkland College work full-time. The flexibility of having evening and weekend classes appeals to many of these students. In addition, more than half of the students who receive their bachelor’s degree through the EIU School of Continuing Education’s off-campus programs go on to pursue a master’s degree.
Connie Buchenroth - School of Technology,EIU
Celeste Blodgett is a graduate assistant and student in the EIU School of Technology studying Training and Development. Celeste attended EIU undergraduate classes at Parkland College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational and Professional Development (OPD) in December of 2012. In January 2013, she began her EIU graduate studies at Parkland College.