Files' master's degree: hard work, but well worth it

Cheryl Files graduated from the MS in Technology (leadership) program in 2014. She is a clerk in the Office of the Bursar at Purdue University. We asked her to reflect on her experiences with the program.


I sincerely believe if I would have tried to get my degree right after high school, I would not have been as successful as I was as a non-traditional student. I found myself as a single mom raising four children and working minimum wage jobs. I realized that if I wanted a career and not just a job, I would need to further my education. So, in 1998, I took classes at Harris College in accounting. Life happened, and I had to withdraw from the program after one and a half years. In 2007, the company for whom I worked for 17 years was sold, and I was without a job and without a degree.

After earning my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 2011, I took a one-year rest and decided to go for my master’s degree at Purdue. I was at a stage in my life where my children were grown, but I was recently married and raising a new family. I knew that I had to find a program that would work around my job and my family and allow me to give everything I could to the program as well. The weekend master’s program was the best fit for me. There was not a lot of demand of my time to be in a classroom, and the structuring of the program around learning objectives helped me in my career path. I was hesitant at first because of my age, but my cohort was small and made it easy for me to build relationships with them.

The ProSTAR program helped me to gain self-awareness of my limits, strengths, weaknesses, as well as working in a successful team and getting out of my comfort zone. It was hard work, but well worth it. I did not just get a degree, but a wealth of knowledge and skills that I continue to use and reflect on in my current position.