Start your tech career with these Villanova degree-completion programs - Philly


Oct. 19, 2015 10:40 am

Start your tech career with these Villanova degree-completion programs

“Whatever you get tonight in class, you will be able to use tomorrow at work,” program director Sandra Kearney says to her students.

Sandra Kearney (left) talks with prospective students.

(Photo courtesy of Villanova University)

Sandra Kearney used to be a pilot, but now she’s committed to helping students make the same transition into tech that she once made.

As the Interim Director of Research and Undergraduate Programs at Villanova University’s College of Professional Studies, Kearney oversees part-time studies for adults with previous college credits or associate’s degrees who want to complete or enhance their education with a bachelor’s degree.

The College of Professional Studies’ undergraduate programs in Computer Science, Information Systems and Media & Technology help students reach their personal goals as they learn skills at the forefront of today’s tech industry.

We spoke with Kearney — as well as two of her students — to learn about what exactly makes these degree programs special.

### Philly: Sandy, tell us a little about your background and how it has led to your current role in tech education.

Kearney: I happened to have transitioned my career multiple times.

I started out in aviation; I was a military pilot and then a commercial pilot, which, at the time, there were not a lot of women. But I saw the need to be technically inclined coming out of that, and I knew I wanted options. Although I was in a technology-related field, it wasn’t the same as using the kind of technology we use every day in our lives now. And like [my students], I went back to Villanova and got a master’s degree in computer science. I was lucky enough to work at IBM and end up in research, where I got into all kinds of emerging spaces. Now my goal is to help students take a similar path in shaping their futures.

TP: How might students who enroll in these programs change their career skills or paths in a similar way?

Kearney: All of our students are unique and have a really phenomenal story in some form. Some come from business and want to be more technical, some come from digital management and want to be more technical, and some just want to be more technical in general.

You don’t have to wait to get a degree to seek credentials at Villanova. We offer both credit and non-credit certificates that students can earn as milestones as they work toward receiving a bachelor’s degree. What I always tell my students is, “Whatever you get tonight in class, you will be able to use tomorrow at work. You don’t have to wait to use it until the end of your degree.”

TP: What made you decide to enter the program, and what are you getting out of it?

Mike Bambrick, Media & Technology student: I’m currently a digital marketing manager. Previous to this degree, I did an associate’s in audio production. When I was searching for another program to step up my degree and get a bachelor’s, I came across Villanova’s Media & Technology degree, which seemed to directly align with my intentions for my future. Fortunately, I’ve had Sandy as my advisor, and she has pushed me and opened up my mind in new directions with new possibilities for my future.

Erica Howard, Information Systems student: I’ve been in IT for most of my career, probably starting out when I was 22. My first introduction to Villanova was when I went there for a project management program. Then I decided that I wanted to go back, because I felt like Villanova programs were catered for what I needed, and that was a draw for me. Having a family and full-time job that’s very demanding, I feel like the courses work with my schedule, and I also find that the professors understand we are working adults, so they are very accommodating.

Students and instructors at Villanova.

Students and instructors at Villanova. (Photo courtesy of David DeBalko)

TP: Have you noticed any common, overarching goals of students in this program, or are there more personal, individual goals?

Kearney: It’s not only personal, but geared toward employment in fields in which they want to fulfill their life journeys. And that could be anything: we’ve got students who’ve gone on to eBay, we’ve got students who are running their own companies, students who have gone to startups and nonprofits. They’re all over, but at the end of the day the common theme is, “I want to be employed in a space that I want to be in, where I can contribute to this technical field with my strengths and the things I’ve learned.” I think that’s what Villanova brings.

TP: What, in your mind, sets these Villanova programs apart?

Kearney: It’s a very diverse group of people in our program, which is one of the things I love. You can’t say there’s a single cookie cutter of the students in our program. They’re from all over, from all kinds of backgrounds, professional areas, and demographics. I can honestly tell you, I’ve seen babies born, I’ve seen parents pass on, I’ve seen weddings, I’ve had all that with these students. It’s very familial in nature. It’s a very caring community where long-term success is at the heart of everything we do.

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