Janice Normil cast a wide net when researching her options for graduate education. Her best choice was close at hand.
She enrolled in the Master of Science in Higher Education Administration program at Barry University where she was working in the marketing department. Her desire to play a bigger part in the university's leadership was her main motivation to earn the master's. She completed the program in August 2019. The degree is also available online.
Being meticulous in her search for South Florida schools paid off for Normil, with Barry University emerging as her top choice for an education degree.
"Barry allowed me the time to continue my education while working full time," said Normil, currently an administrative assistant in the university's College of Arts and Sciences. "I am a full-time staff member at Barry, so it was very feasible for me to go to work and school at the same time."
Working for the university gave Normil an added perk beyond familiarity with the school and its faculty.
"The tuition assistance opportunities for graduate students were a great incentive," she said.
Normil's enrollment at Barry University was painless because she had already proved herself worthy with her undergraduate coursework.
"The application process was very easy and simple," she said. "They are one of the few schools that don't require the GRE if you had a 3.0 or better on your undergraduate transcript."
Finding the Right Program
After Normil graduated from the University of Florida with a telecommunications degree, she took a break from studies when her mother passed away from breast cancer.
Normil has more than five years of experience in higher education. She has worked in the Student Life department at Broward College, the University of Florida's Student Conduct & Conflict department, and the Brand Marketing & Communication department at Barry. She was still considering her focus area for graduate school when the answer became evident.
"I realized that I had been working in higher education this whole time, and I had a vested interest in helping students achieve success in their own professional lives and continuing their pursuit of knowledge," she said. "I had never heard of a degree that was associated with anything in higher education, but after doing my research, I spoke to the Director of Graduate Admissions, Vicky Totten, and saw the benefits of going to Barry."
With Totten's help, Normil identified a program that would help pave the way to her desired career.
"The curriculum truly intrigued me," she said of Barry University's MS in Higher Education Administration program. "It aligned with my goal of becoming a Title IX Coordinator within a Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution department at a public, four-year institution."
Through Barry University's Higher Education Administration master's program, Normil had the opportunity to see the hard data behind her area of interest. She feels equipped to solve problems in the field with the tools she gained through the curriculum and the guidance she received from faculty.
"Methodology of Research [EDR 601] helped me understand my specialization," she said. "I knew I had interest in Title IX and curriculum planning for continuing consent procedures and healthy relationship communications practices amongst college students.
"I wanted to take a qualitative approach in learning about students' basis knowledge of consent. I wanted to create tools to prepare incoming students with active communication skills and mindfulness of their societal responsibilities in all their relationships and sexual relations within and outside of the university environment."
Understanding the problem and arriving at a solution is half the battle, but the Barry curriculum also requires students like Normil to apply their theoretical findings to real life.
"I'm interested in creating programs to encourage holistic psychology integration in the college culture setting to develop students' civil and professional skills," she said. "In Practicum in Higher Education [HED 648], I developed a consent culture workshop to help incoming students understand what consent is, how to practice their agency, and how to be respectful of the agency of others."
Developing the workshop was the highlight of Normil's time in the program and gave her confidence in her future as a higher education administrator.
"If you're looking for hands-on training and a curriculum that is very thorough and thought-provoking, come to Barry University," she said. "It is a great opportunity to develop your specialization and discuss it with your advisor. They really take the time to hear you out and [help you] see opportunities beyond the classroom."
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