When Zoe Maroulis began researching programs to go back to school, she knew she needed a program that would let her learn on her terms and her time.
“Time” here being a very generous label for the interludes between multiple jobs and family obligations.
Zoe, 31, was specifically researching online kinesiology programs that would grant her flexibility while putting her on a path to become an occupational therapist.
“Physically attending school would mean that I would have to cut back on work,” she says. “This poses a problem as work funds my home, education, and will pay for graduate school, which requires that I relocate for over two years while continuing to maintain a home here.”
For now, home is Carencro, La., although Zoe says she was born in Florida and raised in Eunice, La.
She researched schools and found that, among schools that offered an online program, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s online Bachelor’s of Kinesiology - Health Promotion & Wellness was one of the few that offered an entirely online experience.
“I spoke with someone else in the program and found out you didn’t have to go to campus for every little thing,” she says. “That’s why I enrolled.”
Health Promotion & Wellness offers a 100-percent online curriculum with the exception of a CPR course, three-hour clinical experience, and a nine-hour internship, all of which can be completed wherever a student lives.
Among the hats Zoe wears are occupational therapy technician/office manager, freelance graphic designer, web moderator, cashier, and hair stylist.
In addition to her menagerie of jobs, Zoe says she’s becoming more involved in her mother’s care as her mother ages and doctor appointments and other needs become increasingly frequent and complex.
A previous job as a marketer for a hospice company exposed Zoe to the world of occupational therapy.
“I actually got to shadow a (physical therapist) and an (occupational therapist), and really liked what the OT was doing and could relate to what he was doing — the methodology, the theory behind it,” she says. “I really researched online occupational therapy, their scope of practice, what they did, the people they helped, and just fell in love with the profession.”
The asynchronous nature of many online courses allows Zoe to fit her courses into her chaotic schedule as she carves her path to a May 2019 graduation.
“I fit ‘going to class’ in between everything — before work, on breaks, between jobs, and after I’ve packed it in for the day,” she says. “What has also helped is purchasing eBooks versus physical books when they are available. I can read or have my smartphone read chapters to me whenever I have a few free minutes during the day or when I am commuting.”
Zoe says she gets a lot of work done during that commute time by using a voice recorder to dictate notes beforehand to listen to over her car’s sound system or to dictate papers to be typed, researched, and edited later.
“The Moodle and UL Lafayette apps have been a tremendous help with keeping up with everything,” she adds. “I can check on assignments, read resources provided by instructors, and turn some assignments in when I am on the go.”
Although Zoe says the coursework has been very involved, one of her biggest challenges isn’t tackling the assignments, but taking a break.
“I guess since I’m older and have already been to college and didn’t take it seriously, I almost take this too seriously,” she says.
However, that tenacity has allowed Zoe to maintain a 4.0 while, she says, simultaneously maintaining her sanity.
“Fingers crossed that continues until I finally graduate next year.”
Learn more about UL Lafayette’s online Health Promotion & Wellness degree, as well as its potential career opportunities, on our degree program page.