Graduate: BSE in HRWD
"From the very first contact I had there [at the U of A], I felt welcomed there; I felt wanted."
Laura Sherer drives to work each day in North Carolina with an Arkansas Alumni sticker on her Honda CRV. It's a constant reminder that she achieved in December her lifelong goal of earning a bachelor's degree.
"It was one of the greatest moments of my life," Sherer said.
Sherer graduated in December with a bachelor's degree in Human Resource and Workforce Development after studying online.
"It fulfilled a desire I'd had my whole life, when I got that diploma," said Sherer, a recently retired public administrator with 29 years of service who is now turning to a new career.
She hopes her bachelor's degree in Human Resources and Workforce Development will help her become a stronger advocate for people with cognitive disabilities. About a year ago, after she retired as a human resources director, she started volunteering at a private school for children with cognitive challenges, in grades 6 through 12. The school hired her full-time earlier this year.
"I felt if I had more credentials, I might be able to accomplish more," she said. "I really felt a calling. I felt like it was a spiritual conviction."
Sherer started the online program from the College of Education and Health Professions in 2013, while she worked as a director of human resources. She said she started her career in an entry-level job and worked her way up.
"The older I got, the more there was this burning desire to get my college degree," Sherer said.
Sherer had taken some classes from a local community college and hoped they would transfer to another institution, she said. But that institution would not accept her credits and did not encourage her to further her education.
That's when she began searching the internet for another option, and found the online Bachelor of Science in Education in Human Resource and Workforce Development at the U of A.
"From the very first contact I had there [at the U of A], I felt welcomed there; I felt wanted," Sherer said. "They made me feel like a part of the family. That made it so special to me.
"Just because you are online doesn't mean that you are isolated and alone," Sherer said. "The standards are just as high as on-campus courses, but they will help you."
The librarians, the information technology staff, her academic adviser and her professors took interest in her academic success, she said. The college also named her the outstanding undergraduate student in the Human Resource and Workforce Development.
"I felt like I was three miles away, not hundreds of miles away," Sherer said.
She traveled to Fayetteville to attend a football game last year, to participate in commencement in December 2015, and to attend the homecoming game this year.
"Everybody makes me feel like an alumni, like I'm part of the family," Sherer said.
Now she's thinking about returning to the U of A, virtually, for a graduate degree. She's thinking about applying to the online master's degree program in human resources and workforce development education. She can apply online.