SU to graduate first online MPA degree students




The first graduates of Southern University's executive master's in Public Administration online degree program will get their diploma's during commencement ceremonies on Friday morning.


Both Rhonda Sylvan and Myra Victor said the program has provided them with an affordable and comfortable means of getting a degree they wanted but didn't have the time to achieve going fulltime.


Sylvan said her degree will help her switch career. She is a lawyer and has an undergraduate degree from Southern in Rehabilitation Psychology.


The online degree program is doing what was meant to do, said Michelle Hill, Executive Director of Online Learning.  It is meeting the needs of a more mature population while building enrollment at Southern.


While SU's first online degrees - in Rehabilitative Career Counseling - were awarded in 2007, Southern started a major push in the online degree area in earnest in August 2012.


Sylvan, 43, who lives in League City, Texas, said she is strongly considering using what she has learned to start her own non-profit agency that will help young people "before they reach the legal system."


The Edgard, La. native had been a public defender in the East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court before moving to Texas.


She said the new degree puts her in position to administer a non-profit agency that would help to steer youth away from criminal activity and save them from becoming numbers in the court system.


Sylvan said she started the online degree in August of 2012. "It was a lot of work...You really had to stay on it." In the end, she said, "this is going to help me accomplish what I really want to do."


Myra Victor, the second graduate, had a completely different situation. She had received her undergraduate degree online from the University of Phoenix. Married, with two children, she understood the flexibility of an online degree program.


Victor, 26, who lives in Baker, said once she discovered Southern's program, she knew a degree would validate her effort to build a program that to help young people. She already operated her own non-profit "Girls of Essence" program that worked with girls from 5 years to 14 years old on life skills.


She said Southern's online degree program was more affordable than others she had looked at. "I enjoyed the classes because the instructors were really willing to work with you."


Victor said the online program was especially beneficial to her because she had another child during her time in the program.


"I'm glad the program worked for me and it didn't take forever," she said.

"The program really increased by understanding of non-profits and public relations," she said. "It is going to create better opportunities for me."


Hill said the benefits that Sylvan and Victor received will be typical for other graduates of the online degree program. "The whole idea of the program is to expand Southern's ability to reach adult learners and to provide them wider opportunities than traditional classroom settings."


Some of the online degrees offered include, Executive Master of Public Administration, Master of Business Administration, Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Students and Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.


The online degree program will expand in January, Hill said, with the addition of the Master's in Business Education degree.


Hill encourages those interested in Southern's online degree program to visit or call 877-976-5601 to speak to an admissions officer.


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