The 'biggest reward'

September 30, 2016

 

Heather Squire is one of the newest members of the Distance Education Board Alumni Board. She is a Project Coordinator for Covance, a pharmaceutical company that tests new medications for safety before approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Squire worked at Covance for 10 years before leaving to enroll in UW-Platteville’s online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program in January of 2010.

“It was a personal and career goal. Career was kind of secondary, because I could’ve continued on with what I was doing without my bachelor’s degree, but I felt like I really needed to complete it—to complete something that I had started a long time ago,” Squire said.

Squire completed her degree in December of 2015. She returned to Covance in her new role as a Project Coordinator, where she helps drug companies develop safety tests for new medications. “It completely fits what I went to school for. I really wanted to be in a project manager/project coordinator type of role,” she said. “When I first started back to school, I didn’t know exactly what it meant to get a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree. But as I continued on in my classes and learned more and more about all of the different aspects—human resources, financials, stocks, and how to work with an international company—I just got more and more excited that this was the right choice, that this was what I wanted to do. It felt like no matter where I went, I would be able to use my degree; I would be able to use the information that I learned.”

Squire is also a University Ambassador for Covance. In addition to showcasing career options, she talks with students about the importance of continuing education.

“Everybody has different challenges when going back to school. My challenges of having two kids, my husband, a house to run, and a part time job, and I was still able to do something for myself. I completed my degree. That, to me, is an accomplishment in itself,” Squire said. “I was really proud of myself and my family was very proud. To be able to have my kids there when I graduated college and to have them see the campus and see mom up there graduating and walking across the stage, that was my biggest reward. And when I was really having a hard time, that’s what I would always think about—the day that the kids get to see me graduate college.”

Q: What made you want to join the Alumni Board?
A: I wanted to help students who are in school try and connect with what it’s going to be like after graduation. I wanted to help develop a support system. I also really want to help the Alumni Board to move forward to the next stage of what it’s going to be like to help support alumni all over the country, and world.

Q: What is your role on the Board?
A: The first thing I was able to help with was the cards we send to new graduates. I also want to help with fundraisers, online campaigns, and getting alumni connected. It’s a lot more challenging connecting alumni online than if you were all at the same campus. But, obviously, we’re all somewhat tech-savvy, because we got our degrees online. We all have a pretty good sense of how to connect and how to engage without being face-to-face. So, if we can all work together and use our tools and brains to figure out how to better connect people in the 21st century, I think we’re going to have a stronger alumni community.

Q: Why is it so important for you to stay involved and connected?
A: It’s good to stay connected to other people who are also passionate about education and continuing education. You never know what resources other people have available. By staying connected to people who appreciate what it’s like to be an online student and what it’s like post-graduation, and to support that kind of learning, is a powerful network-building tool. It’s so important that everybody knows education opportunities are out there and available for anyone. To be able to go to school, even if it’s just one class a semester, eventually you’re going to graduate. This is the kind of support I would like to communicate to the current students through my involvement in the Alumni Board. It’s so important to continue learning throughout your whole life, and I think by staying connected to alumni and the board, then I’m helping make sure that passion for learning continues for me and other people. Always be learning.

Q: How would you encourage alumni and future alumni to get involved?
A: There are so many things you can do without having to go to meetings. There are so many different levels of staying connected and just by investigating what you can do to help, you’re already starting the process of getting involved. After the first step, I would encourage people to ask questions about current and future alumni events, then attend those events. It is surprising how quickly you find events that you can help out with. Even just talking about your education experience to other people is doing something for the Alumni Board.

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