Krishna Priya Arni
M.S. in Operations Management
"I'm definitely going to recommend this, especially to all the moms who need flexible timings and want to get back to their careers. There are multiple options that you can do after pursuing operations management. So, for those who are looking to switch their career paths or resume after a gap, there are a lot of opportunities for this work, and it is multidimensional."
Krishna Priya Arni is a master’s student in the operations management online degree program at the University of Arkansas. When her husband got an opportunity to work abroad, they moved from India to Bentonville in 2017. They had their first child in 2018, and her career went to the sideline because she wanted to be there for her son, but now she is ready to focus back on her career.
Arni works from home as a quality analyst for an insurance company. After completing her degree, she would like to shift her career toward data analytics or operations management. She expects to graduate by the summer of 2023.
For Priya Arni, she always wanted to pursue a graduate degree.
“It took some time to decide on what and when and where,” she said.
Her cousins all got their master’s degrees and some of them got their doctorates, too. After completing her Bachelor of Technology in Electronics and Communication in 2014, she said she felt a little scared resuming her education in 2022, having hesitation about whether she could do it or not, particularly if she could manage her child and her studies at the same time. The pandemic also delayed her return.
Although she chose an online degree program mostly because of the pandemic, she’s not regretting it. She admits that initially she had a lot of questions, as she had no idea how online education worked, such as how to get textbooks, collaborate on group activities, the examinations, classes, and if was really possible to get a solution and clarification from professors.
“I had a lot of questions and my advisor answered everything so patiently,” Priya Arni said. “My advisor gave examples from her own experiences, explained to me how exams are given using proctored sessions, how we can reach professors and she gave me some suggestions. I have repeatedly asked about the differences between the online degree and in-person college, and if there is a difference in the final degree that will be awarded if I take online. Only then I decided and went ahead with this online mode of option."
“This program is really flexible,” she continued. “This is the thing I liked most about it, because initially when I was searching, I saw most other programs require attendance during the daytime from 9 to 5. So, I have to leave my kid somewhere.”
For Priya Arni, an online program allows her to work on her schoolwork in the evening when her husband is home to take care of their son.
Also, being able to work and study online provides a lot of convenience.
“I just change this laptop to that laptop,” she said. “Because working and going to college can be hard sometimes when we have hectic work at the office, I try to at least complete all my things by Saturday so I can have at least one complete day off from both work and college.”
After all the initial hesitation and all the roadblocks, being awarded the W.E. Manning Memorial Scholarship was very encouraging. She learned of the scholarship application from her advisor.
“I did not even imagine or think that there was a chance of me getting this,” Priya Arni said. “I just gave it a shot. So, when I was selected, yeah, it was a lot of encouragement. It made me think, OK, I am eligible for something after I took this long gap and I'm back now. It is financial help, and more than that it is boost to my confidence levels. It's like all my dreams are coming true.”
She chose to attend the U of A based on recommendations from acquaintances and the value of the degree.
“I have heard good things about the University of Arkansas,” she said. “People back in India, some of my friends, they all have very good feedback about the U of A. It is a good university.”
Priya Arni believes when you invest in something, the first thing you think about is the value of your money. This also applies to the value of a degree, and she believes both the quality of education and the quality of the degree at the U of A are well worth the investment.
Being online doesn’t prevent Priya Arni from communicating with her professors and getting her questions answered.
“Whenever I have some queries, I send my professor an e-mail,” she said. “For a program management course, my professor sent me a video response explaining all my query details, solving all the problems.”
Priya Arni finds Blackboard to be a useful tool to not only stay in touch with professors and classmates but also an aid in her learning. From email to discussion boards, there are a variety of methods of communicating through Blackboard.
“We usually have an ask a professor thread in discussions. We also sometimes have separate threads for midterms and finals,” she said. “The discussion part is good, because it gives the feeling of being in a class because we get to know what everybody else is thinking, what their perspective is, and how they are thinking about the same topic.
“For group assignments, like a team of five, we start when everybody finishes reading the chapter. Then we start discussing whoever takes which part, whoever is comfortable or if we have any questions like how it should be done. Then we create a shared document to share our views.”
For someone who might be considering studying online, Priya Arni would provide the following advice.
“I would definitely say go for it. And do not be scared,” she said.
She came into the program worried she would not be able to keep up with the huge reading material, but found the program is designed to make it easier and more manageable for students.
“We have separate chapter links, so you don't feel like you're reading a huge book online. I cannot scroll through pages easily. That was the first concern I had,” Priya Arni said.
She also finds the professors to be “easily accessible, they are always approachable. It is not like if you study online, no one will be there. It is not like that. You get a lot of help from professors, and they are always reachable. Home phone numbers are given so we can contact them.
“I keep reminding myself that we are responsible for ourselves,” she continued. “We should remember the deadline. We should push ourselves to do something. We should go through the textbook and do it ourselves.”
Priya Arni recommends the program to others because of its flexibility and career path opportunities.
“I'm definitely going to recommend this, especially to all the moms who need flexible timings and want to get back to their careers,” she said. “There are multiple options that you can do after pursuing operations management. So, for those who are looking to switch their career paths or resume after a gap, there are a lot of opportunities for this work, and it is multidimensional.”