She travels a lot for her work as a fundraising consultant, so when Andrea Essling read about an online graduate program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, she knew it was for her. Now the proud owner of a Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing, she has this advice for other prospective students: “Jump in and do it!”
Essling began her online classes in the fall of 2015, spacing out the 15 hours of classes with her work and travel schedule. She admits the online format was challenging at first.
“The crutch of being able to raise your hand if you don’t understand something, I missed that. But the online format works out for my lifestyle. I did enjoy it, and I would encourage people to try it.”
Writing — such as grants and proposals — is a key element of her work with Community Counseling Service. Although her home is in her native Grand Rapids, Michigan, Essling has spent time working with clients in a number of states, including Texas and Louisiana. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in public administration from Grand Valley State University, also in Michigan.
The UL Lafayette professional writing program, however, has helped Essling learn to be a better writer and get experience with new writing formats. She especially enjoyed the class on writing blogs: “To learn everything that goes into the backstory of a blog is fascinating.”
Clear, concise writing is the key to success, she says. “The program has forced me to look at creating and developing documents in a new way, with a different approach.”
Essling has high praise for Assistant Professor Randy Gonzales, who coordinates the Professional Writing Program for the Department of English.
She has a passion for lifelong learning that was handed down to her by her grandfather, Bob Wallace, and her father, Jack Essling, who would definitely be proud of her newest achievement. And she hopes her pursuit of education will encourage her four nieces. “If I can show them that through education you can have so many more opportunities to accomplish your dreams, then I have done my job.”
Essling, who is 48, had this advice for anyone who loves learning: “Keep going to school, continuing to learn, no matter how old or young you are.”
UL Lafayette’s Office of Distance Learning offers online programs for both undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as graduate certificates.