Amy Hinton was barely in her mid-20s and working full-time when her ailing father insisted that she make him a promise.
“When my dad was in hospice, he said, ‘You’ve got to promise me you’ll go get your degree,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t have support, and I don’t have time for that,’” Hinton recalls, “but I said, ‘Okay, I promise. It’ll just take a minute.’”
Hinton and her dad had that conversation in 2016 and from that point on it was not a question of “If?” she would go back to school, but of “When?” and “How?”
This Spring, Hinton earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Management online from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Hinton’s accomplishment means she fulfilled the promise to her father, and she is the first generation in her family to earn a college degree.
Some days were harder than others, but Hinton had encouragement along the way.
“My partner was always there for me, and my sister and aunt never let me forget how proud my dad would have been,” Hinton says.
Right place, wrong time
Hinton began at the University after high school and was studying to become a math teacher. Her parents were cheering her on from Alexandria, Louisiana.
“They always pushed me to pursue education and supported me as much as they could,” she says.
About half-way to her degree, a combination of obstacles piled up on Hinton rapidly.
She lost her job, her 3-year relationship ended, and her parents announced plans to divorce; burnt out and overwhelmed, Hinton withdrew from classes and went to work full-time.
“It was so much, and I felt like, ‘I don’t want to do school right now,’” she says.
For most of a decade, Hinton has worked full-time at la Madeliene French Bakery and Café; she has served as general manager for two years now.
She knew she could not stop working to attend school full-time, but she was not confident that the national, for-profit online options would fit her goals.
“When UL Lafayette started offering online classes, I was like, well, that’s a perfect opportunity! I had already been at UL Lafayette, I felt like, ‘Okay, it’s credible, it’s the same degree, just online.”
Enrolled and on a roll
When she’d gotten the ball rolling, Hinton decided the B.S.B.A. in Management online program fit her best since she was already in a managerial role at the café.
“It was going back to school but in a different way,” she says. “It was a lot of time management, but my first semester back I made straight A's.”
Balancing classes against her demanding 50-hour work week wasn’t a breeze, but Hinton was able to find her rhythm and make it work.
“I’m a procrastinator by nature, but I would just crunch as much as I could into [my] two days off and then if I still needed more time, I would do some after work,” she says.
Before returning to the University, Hinton had not taken any asynchronous online courses. She soon discovered that online course delivery gave her the autonomy and the flexibility to prioritize her studies to fit her learning style.
“With online classes, if I get it, I can go through it faster. And if I do not get it, I can take more time and figure it out, you know? So, working at my own pace helped with not getting too bored or not getting too behind.”
Using her degree at work
Human Resources proved Hinton’s favorite class. Now she better understands what she enjoys about working with people, solving problems, and figuring out how to motivate a team to succeed.
She implemented a nomination-based employee of the month program at her café and is pleased with the results so far.
“It helps the associates see that they are valued by the people they work with daily. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in collaboration and overall, more positive atmosphere. Positivity is key!” says Hinton.
While Hinton ponders her goals and graduate school, she is proud of herself and pleased with the value her lessons have brought to her performance at work already.
“It made me feel more comfortable in what I was already doing. Being comfortable in your job is so important for advancement, so yeah, it definitely helped a lot,” she says.
The next start date for the B.S.B.A in Management program online is around the corner. Reserve a time to speak with an Enrollment Specialist about your questions and goals.