Communication can change a life. And for Chris Vann, it is a key skill to master as he works toward one day becoming an athletic director. So, when a respected friend and former Maryville assistant athletic director recommended the online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership to him, Chris listened.
“Jared Footman talked about how good the professors were, and he highlighted some of the classes that he liked, so that was a big reason I chose Maryville,” says Chris. “Also, when I researched the program, I saw a lot of work was hands-on — and I feel like I’m a great hands-on learner.”
Greater degree, greater responsibility
For Chris, pursuing his graduate degree also carried a deeper responsibility to set an example for his younger siblings and, like Footman had done for him, provide a meaningful guidance.
“I have two younger sisters in high school,” Chris says. “I hope that me getting this master’s degree can motivate my sisters to definitely think about going to college.”
“I hope that me getting this master’s degree can motivate my sisters to definitely think about going to college.”
Maryville also offered Chris the opportunity to be a graduate assistant in the athletic department, where he was able to practice what he’d learned in a real-world environment.
Making time for what’s most important
Between being a graduate assistant and studying full time, Chris found it a challenge to manage everything — but school had to come first. So, he prioritized.
Chris developed a habit of setting time aside to focus on the most important tasks, then work through those first to make immediate progress. He also found he could personalize his study approach within his online courses.
“One thing I liked about online courses is that the professors tell you what you need to do upfront,” says Chris. “If you’re somebody with a busier schedule, you can get ahead and then work at your own pace. Or if you fall behind a little bit, there’s always room to catch back up.”
He also established a valuable support network among his professors and, as a result, always felt prepared. “The professors definitely look out for you at Maryville,” he says. “They all asked about my plans after graduation and pointed me toward multiple resources whenever I needed help with anything.”
Chris leaned on that support and applied it to his professional life — and he highly recommends that current and future students do the same.
“Talk with your supervisors and the people in your life. Let them know your situation. They can help you plan and stay successful.”
Earning a great accomplishment. Setting a brave example.
The prioritization paid off. Chris recently graduated with his strategic communication and leadership degree — and a heart full of gratitude.
“During my undergraduate, I would have never thought about graduate school,” he admits. “Now I feel a sense of accomplishment for myself and my family.”
“Communication is everything,“ Chris says. “And I always want to improve my skills. I feel like this program has done that.”
Also, like his friend had once done for him, Chris used his graduation to set an even greater example. “I’m honored to show all my brothers and sisters that you can achieve things through hard work,” he says.
And to current and future students studying through time constraints or adversity, Chris offers guidance from his own experience.
“Just stick with it. Sometimes it’s going to be very tough,” he says. “It might even look like you’re not going to get through sometimes, but just keep on pushing and keep on grinding, and you’ll definitely make it if you keep your mind to it.”
If you’re ready to see how Maryville Online can help you be brave and pursue your educational and professional goals, we’re here for you. Check out our online bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctorate degrees, or schedule a call with an advisor today.
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