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Online Path Connects Grad to New Goals

UL Online -- Mon, 11/16/2020 - 11:16am

In December 2021, Kimberly Melvin earned an M.S. in Communication, researching concepts like gender representation and bias in contemporary music. UL Lafayette general studies graduate and M.S. in Communication student Kimberly Melvin is pictured in a black hat.

Melvin’s research was partially inspired by her daughters, 6 and 8, and a drive to create a better world for them as women. It was also driven by her own passion for learning — a fire she stoked by completing her bachelor’s through UL Lafayette’s online General Studies program.

Degree within Reach

Melvin was on an evolving academic path at UL Lafayette — then University of Southwestern Louisiana — when she had her first daughter. After starting her studies in journalism and transitioning to public relations then dietetics, she took a break, returned, then took another break when she had her second daughter. 

“I was trying to work and go to school and make sure my kids were fed, and that's really hard to do when you have a brand-new baby," Melvin says. “So, school just kind of fell by the wayside.”

More than 10 years later, Melvin watched a coworker complete his bachelor’s degree online and wondered if she could do the same with UL Lafayette. She checked the website and found the online Bachelor of General Studies with four concentrations. The concentration in applied science looked closely aligned to the credits Melvin had already earned.

“When I spoke with the coordinator, she took a look at all my credits she said, ‘Absolutely you can do this. You'll have your degree in a year.’ At that point I'd been trying to finish this degree for — I'm not even exaggerating — 20 years,” Melvin says. “I think I cried. It was this this thing that was hanging over my head that I hadn't finished.”

Full-time Mom, Student, Employee

Melvin enrolled in the program in January 2018 and crossed the commencement stage three semesters later. Each semester, Melvin took at least 12 credit hours — a full-time course load. 

Throughout that time, she worked full time in addition to caring for her two young children. Both Melvin and her family had to adjust to online coursework. Melvin says it took some time to help her children understand the time she needed to set aside for school. 

"I'd just shut myself in a room with a computer, and say, 'OK, this is mommy's homework time.’ My husband helped me out a lot with that, helping them understand,” Melvin says. “It was kind of tricky at the time, too, because only one of my kids was in school, so the concept of homework was kind of alien to them.”

Kimberly Melvin is pictured with her husband and two daughters after completing the online bachelor of general studies program.Melvin says even though it required steady time management, learning online also allowed her to be there for her family.

"It was the best option for me having a full-time job and being a parent. To not have to go to campus was huge,” Melvin says. “I didn't have to miss my kids. Even though I was locked in the other room, at least I could pop in and say hello or help them with their homework or whatever they needed. It really let me be with them.”

Melvin says the time management strategies she honed as an online student have served her well in graduate school, especially during a pandemic. 

“Towards the end of last semester and going into this semester with everything being online, I was completely prepared for that,” Melvin says. “As they say, nothing really prepares you for grad school until you do it, but I made a 4.0 last semester. There's no way I would have done as well as I did — or as well as I am doing right now — if it hadn't been for the time management skills that I learned.”

Relishing the Challenge

Melvin completed her undergraduate studies with courses that interested her personally, as well as academically — young adult literature, film history, and Cajun and zydeco music. 

Once she was finished, Melvin found she missed her coursework. So, she applied to the University again as a graduate student.

Melvin began her studies at UL Lafayette in 1998 in communications, and now, she says, that’s where she’ll finish. 

"When I saw the opportunity to go back and come full circle, I was like, ‘you know, this is what I really want to do; I'm just not happy otherwise,’” Melvin says. “Even though it's stressful, I still try to relish the challenge.” 

If you’re ready to take on your next challenge, a Bachelor of General Studies can help get you there. Request information today about the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s online program and how you can apply your existing college credits to complete your degree.