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Changing Lives, Building Futures

One of my most memorable students was Sherlon Ligon-Ayala, who works for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a support services specialist. Sherlon has worked at HUD for 25 years. She started the bachelor of business administration degree program on Feb. 25 - entering the program with more than sixty credits and starting in the business core.

Below is Sherlon's interview.

1. When did you start thinking about returning to college?
Ten years ago, after I had my son. I was in school when I became pregnant and said I would go back after he was born, but I didn't. He was so young, and I didn't have help. I was so involved with work and traveled with my job - I was very tired.

2. What made you call Averett or how did you hear about us?
I saw Averett on a TV commercial - then I went to the website. The program is set up for working adults - I could still be a full time mom and work full time.

3. What were you looking for in a program?
The degree program I wanted, combined with a schedule and format that I could do.

4. What obstacles or fears did you have?
I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get a loan. Plus, having been out of school for so long, I was feeling hesitant about returning. I was also afraid because I thought my classmates may have been in school recently and were more prepared. However, once I got in the classroom, I realized I was like the other students.

5. What was your first impression as you began the enrollment process?
Fun and informative there was just so much information. I learned how to use the website and Blackboard and how to buy books. Registration was very informative. It was all new, but exciting.

6. How is the study team format working for you?
It's okay. Study teams are harder than working with co-workers; I have had to learn to blend in. I have a good team now. They accepted me, in fact, they picked me. They had been together before I came along. The hardest part was coming in and not knowing them. I don't want to fail them, or do anything wrong. Realistically, I can't always meet with them like I want to, because I have children. I don't want this to be an issue; and so far, there has been only one time I couldn't meet. Mostly, we meet online, sending lots and lots of emails back and forth. I take my study team very seriously, and I don't miss class.

7. What is your favorite part of the program and why?
One day a week is my favorite part. Plus, I get to meet new people. We have a good time, even outside of school.

8 What is your least favorite part and why?
Presentations. I am not a good speaker. When I know my subject, it's different, like at work, but not in the classroom. That is the hardest thing for me.

9. How will completing your degree impact your life personally and professionally?
Personally - it's a goal that I want to reach. My kids need to see me reach this goal. They are 10 and five years old. They get excited and ask if mommy has done her homework. Professionally, school will help me get promotions, and I can apply for other jobs once I get my degree. I will definitely try and move up.

10. What are your plans once you get your degree?
To stay with the government for now, but I have plans in my head. My head is reeling, there is so much I want to do. My current position is not what I really want to be doing. I am looking for other opportunities within the office. This November I will have worked at HUD for 25 years - I started when I was still in high school. My plan is to finish up at AU, then pursue my master's degree in psychology and work in a hospital.

11. What has been your favorite class and why?
Business Ethics - I didn't get a good grade though. I had some personal issues and had to regroup, but I loved that class. I can relate what I learned in business ethics to what I do at work. I see the unethical issues at work. I'm in statistics now. It's hard but exciting and challenging. My professor is really great. All my instructors have been great so far. They are always willing to help, even the online class instructors.

12. What was your least favorite class and why?
I haven't had one. They have all been great.

13. Who was your favorite professor and why?
Statistics with Dr. Chuck Layne. I don't even notice the time ticking by in class, and that is really saying something.

14. What do you think about going to Danville for your graduation?
I am excited about it. I thought it might be here in Richmond but then I learned we go to Danville. I am planning to take my son to a football game in Danville.

15. What would you tell someone looking at going to college?
At Averett, you are in class with peers, and it's only one night a week. It's a win-win situation. All of Averett's instructors give out their contact information, so you can call them or email them. They are there for you.



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