Strategic Study: Distance Student Stays the Course
September 18, 2013
Marci Bunn, Gainesville, Fla., a Kansas State University distance education student pursuing her bachelor's degree in general business, first started college on campus in 1999 as an accounting student. But she discovered she needed a different path to help her complete the degree.
"Online courses were just developing in 1999 and I suppose that had always been in the back of my mind," Bunn said. "When I came to a time in my life when I was ready to complete my degree, K-State was my first choice. I headed to the website and found we had come a long way and that I would be able to complete exactly what I needed."
Bunn got a job working part time at the Kansas State University Foundation in the internal operations department, where she developed an interest in business. Now with a full workload at her current job at Strategic Veterinary Consulting, Bunn's schedule is hardly predictable.
"One thing is consistent -- I'm very busy," she said. "There are some weeks my phone rarely stops ringing and other weeks where I'm buried in the financials of our clients. Time management is of the utmost importance. With online classes, I can choose the times I work on school, which means I can focus on quality time, not just quantity."
Bunn's desire to earn her degree goes beyond just receiving her diploma. By working at Strategic Veterinary Consulting, Bunn is able to "bridge the gap," as she likes to call it, between the medical world that her veterinarian clients are trained for and the business side of owning a practice.
"I think it's a rare privilege to offer such tangible and immediate help to others in the business world. Of course, along with great privilege comes great responsibility, so I'm constantly working to keep my skills sharp and to ensure my coaching is exactly on target," Bunn said.
She has been able to sharpen those skills with the guidance of her Kansas State University adviser Rachel Schafer and professors such as Chwen Sheu, professor and head of the university's department of management, who teaches classes that directly correlate to aspects of her job.
"I have been able to complete courses that have made an immediate impact on my business performance, and there have been courses that I could apply directly to a project I was completing at that time," she said. "While we all have our own journeys and complete our education differently, I can say I have found it an advantage to complete my degree now, as I'm able to put what I learn into action immediately."
Additionally, Bunn has received further support and guidance from Jon Davis, an executive mentor whom she was paired with as part of the Kansas State University College of Business Administration's Business Executive Mentor Program. The program, which is only available to students in the college, acts as a liaison between students and professionals. The executive mentors provide feedback and act as guides in developing the skills to be successful in the workplace.
"In just the past few months, Jon has helped me build a major presentation, work through class issues and has been a sounding board for the next steps in my career," Bunn said. "I believe the mentor program offers an invaluable opportunity."
Of course, no college experience would be complete without a bit of school pride.
"I brag about Kansas State University to just about anyone who will listen," Bunn said. "I have friends and colleagues pursuing degrees and certificates through other universities, and I'm constantly hearing stories of disengaged professors, poor student involvement and general lack of care from the universities. K-State is the absolute opposite."
With her true career passion established and the finish line in sight, Bunn is on course to graduate in 2014.
"I'm hoping to fly back to Manhattan to walk at graduation. I cannot express what it will mean to complete what I started," she said.
For more information about distance education opportunities at Kansas State University, visit http://www.distance.k-state.edu/.