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How Online Graduate Programs Paved Pathways to Opportunity for These Three Learners

Written by Bannon Puckett on Sep 8, 2021

Related content: Graduate Programs, Digital Education

L-R: Erika Gonzalez, Ayman Mageed, and Matthew Jellick

At 2U, we believe that everyone should have access to transformative learning experiences.

All too often, obstacles like geography, finances, and competing commitments prevent people from pursuing higher education. But high-quality online learning has changed the game: paving accessible pathways to opportunity and making it possible for students to advance their careers no matter the circumstances.

Erika Gonzalez, Ayman Mageed, and Matthew Jellick have experienced the benefits of high-quality online education firsthand. Read on to hear how 2U-powered online graduate degree programs opened doors for these inspiring individuals, enabling them to take pivotal steps in their lives, get the most from their education, and get ahead in their chosen professions.

Finding Welcome Flexibility

As a first-generation college student, Erika Gonzalez has worked especially hard to achieve her educational goals.

“It took me about seven years to get my bachelor's of science in public health,” she explains. “Within that time frame, I got pregnant and had my daughter while balancing a full-time job. I never stopped to think about what was next. Never. I was just surviving in the moment.”

After graduating from college, Gonzalez took on a series of administrative healthcare jobs. Though she loved the healthcare industry, Gonzalez craved a more fulfilling role. “I wanted to take on leadership responsibilities—to go out there and find more meaningful work,” she says. “But I was stuck. There was no progression in my job.”

One day, Gonzalez stumbled upon an ad for the Online Master of Health Administration at George Washington University (MHA@GW): a rigorous 2U-powered program designed for professionals seeking to improve healthcare delivery, assume leadership positions in a range of health-related environments, and oversee influential change in communities around the world. It was the perfect opportunity for Gonzalez to advance her career without relocating to another state or putting her work life on pause.

For her, online learning was more than a perk—it was a necessity. “I was a single mom working full-time,” Gonzalez explains. “I needed the convenience of an online program. Flexibility was really the bottom line.”

Funding the Future with Veteran Resources

After serving in the U.S. Army, Ayman Mageed made it his mission to land a successful career in corporate America. There was only one problem: “​​Exiting the military after years of service can be stressful,” he shares. “How do you leave a unique background of training and step into the unknown?”

For Ayman, the answer wound up being courage, confidence, and constant support. After enrolling in UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s MBA@UNC program, he leveraged an abundance of resources to help him get ahead—and now, he advises other veterans to do the same.

The GI Bill was a particularly powerful benefit, allowing Ayman to upskill without accruing crippling student debt. “The GI Bill is a great tool to be used for your advancement,” he says. “MBA@UNC offers outstanding veteran resources, and the GI Bill can cover all tuition and fees minus any program costs.”

Looking back on his time in the Army, Ayman clearly sees that “the mission does not end there.” More than anything, he encourages fellow veterans to aim high and think long-term. “Do not settle for a job,” he says. “Pursue a career.”

Embracing a Global Learning Experience

At his home in Korea, Matthew Jellick would press “stop video” on his laptop and break for a midnight snack while his teacher delivered a morning lecture in Los Angeles.

As a student in the University of Southern California Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT@USC) online program, Matthew was grateful for the opportunity to access high-quality education from the comfort of home—without having to relocate nearly 6,000 miles.

“I learned about pedagogy from a professor in California with classmates in Spain while I taught simultaneously in Korea,” he says. “A distinctive strength of the online program was that it presented the global stage for students to learn on.”

Though he didn’t know it at the time, this experience of learning as part of a global USC cohort would prepare him nearly a decade later to seamlessly transition into leading his own digital classroom.

“Today I am a teacher in China, and I often reflect on my time in the MAT@USC program to determine how best to integrate the lessons I learned into my own online classroom setting,” says Matthew. “Learning and teaching online have taught me about the advantages that come from a fully immersive and high-quality educational experience.”

Learn more about us.

At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.