Amanda Terry just made her dream come true.
"When I was a teenager, I told my father, Odie, that I wanted to get initials behind my name before I have them in front of my name," she said. "I will have the MBA before the Mrs."
Terry became the first person in her immediate family to earn a master's degree when she graduated from the Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Sales Leadership online program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in May 2019.
"My dad is a well-known publisher who produced several publications in Lafayette and surrounding areas," she said. "I had the opportunity to follow in his footsteps in his career, but I decided to go in a different direction with healthcare. I wanted to make it on my own and make a name for myself. He's very proud of that."
Terry landed a full-time job after completing an internship at Schumacher Clinical Partners (now called SCP Health) while earning a bachelor's degree in health services administration from UL Lafayette. She is a managed care contract associate.
"Graduate school has always been in the cards for me, but I started working full-time the day after I graduated with my bachelor's degree," Terry said. "I didn't want to have to turn down the job offer or quit working in order to obtain an MBA. After getting into the nitty-gritty of health administration and seeing that UL Lafayette started offering an online MBA program, I decided to pursue it."
Although Terry had business in her soul and an MBA on her mind, she started off as a nursing major straight out of high school.
"UL Lafayette has a fantastic nursing program," she said. "Because I knew I always wanted to help people, nursing was the only way I could think of to do it. You go to school to be a nurse if you don't want to be a doctor."
However, once Terry experienced clinical rotations, she knew it was time to embrace her business roots.
"I saw a different side of the clinical world, and I realized that maybe the business bones inside of me could be better utilized on the business side of health," she said. "It was around that time that UL (Lafayette) started offering the health services administration undergraduate program, which is in the college of nursing. The majority of my credits transferred."
Terry graduated with a bachelor's degree in 2017 before starting full time at SCP Health as a reimbursement variance auditor. She did the final year of undergrad online.
"That was a huge help getting acclimated to online learning," Terry said. "The online MBA program was pretty manageable. It's definitely not easy. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it."
Terry especially loved the flexibility the online format with her schedule.
"Since it is all online and the lectures are recorded, you can watch it any time of the day," she said. "Sometimes if I'm in a night-owl mood, I'd stay up late and do my schoolwork, or sometimes I'd wake up early and do it then. You learn your self-motivation, time management and what's best for you and how you can work and be most productive."
Just the Facts
The curriculum in the MBA with a concentration in Sales Leadership program online has already helped Terry thrive in the real world.
"I have used the majority of everything I have learned in the MBA program in my current job," she said. "Last semester, I took a negotiations class. That's what I do — I negotiate contracts. I said it will either be a breeze or it will help me strengthen my skills. It has definitely helped strengthen my skills."
Terry also enjoyed learning about different areas of business and developing her acumen. MKTG 524: Marketing Management and MKTG 555: Consumer Behavior were two of her favorite courses.
"I had never taken any marketing courses before," she said. "I am fortunate to have been exposed to different areas of the professional world through the MBA program."
By earning her bachelor's degree and MBA online, Terry realized another benefit — communication skills fit for today's increasingly global economy.
"In the business world today — especially the company I work for, which is nationwide — the majority of what we do is virtual meetings, email communication, phone calls," she said. "Not a lot of it is face to face. Participating in online forums with the MBA helped with my communication skills. I have always asked other students questions on the forum."
As she built her network by collaborating with other students around the country, Terry was also able to strengthen connections closer to home.
"I took a class with one of the vice presidents who works at the same company I do," she said. "We bounced ideas off each other and reminded each other about due dates for assignments. That was motivating."
Now that she has walked the graduation stage, Terry is excited about enhancing her career with the MBA she always dreamed of earning and hanging on her office wall.
"I would like to move toward a career in healthcare operations," she said. "My experience has been more in the reimbursement and finance side, which is something I have been very fortunate to have learned. I'm planning to explore options in the operational side, so I can utilize skills I've learned in finance and reimbursement to make myself more of a well-rounded operator."
Terry, who enjoys kickboxing and spending time with her family in her hometown, believes the sacrifices she has made to earn a pair of degrees from UL Lafayette were well worth it.
"My friends and family are excited," Terry said. "I definitely want to take my friends out to dinner when this is all done. I have had to cancel plans with them a lot of times. They are supportive of me. My parents are also supportive - they feed me dinner."
With the prediction Terry made now come true, she couldn't be happier with the way everything has turned out.
"I pursued the sales leadership track because it was something I was personally interested in," she said. "I wanted to be able to add more tools to my toolbox and add more skills. I am fortunate to have done so. I'm keeping all of my options open in the future. If I get an opportunity outside of healthcare, I will have the knowledge base to help me.
Congratulations, Ms. Terry.
Learn more about the UL Lafayette MBA with a concentration in Sales Leadership program online.
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