Why I am Pursuing a Dual Degree: Wilma Smith

WilmaSmithBy Wilma Smith

How did you select your area of study and how will you utilize your degree?

Seeking: Dual MA in Human Resources Management and Human Resources Development

Selecting my area of study wasn’t as easy as it seems. Throughout my life I’ve encountered various jobs I wanted to do, ranging from brick mason to nail tech to being a Marine. At each turn, there was an obstacle I didn’t know how to overcome. In order to be a brick mason or nail tech, I had to go to the vocational school but wasn’t allowed because I was an honors student. My dream of becoming a Marine or joining any other part of the military was crushed with my development of high blood pressure and a need to take medicine daily to regulate it.

After graduating from high school, I attended the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. I started out confused and not knowing what to pursue, especially with so many options available and my bad luck with career choice barriers. My father was an owner/operator in the trucking industry and had experience in administrative duties, so I decided to take on Business Administration to get a general insight on all business functions (finance, management, HR, accounting, etc.) and to help my parents out when needed. Of those choices, the one that stood out the most was Human Resources. So I added it as an “emphasis.” The more courses I took pertaining to HR, the more my viewpoint changed. There I was learning about what employers were looking for and the inner workings of the department responsible for hiring new personnel. Yet, my friends and I were applying for jobs and going to interviews blind. This led me to where I am now, pursing a Dual M.A. in HR Management and HR Development.

Fortunately, I know exactly how I want to utilize my dual M.A. degree. After graduation in May 2017, I plan to seek a position within the Jobs for America’s Graduates Program. The program takes children, grades 9-12 who are deemed “at-risk,” and turns their lives around during high school. It prepares them for life after high school by teaching them life coping skills, job related skills, and many other skills needed to succeed in their personal lives and the workplace. With everything I’ve learned about managing and developing human resources, I will be able to get them on the right path to their goals and help make their dreams a reality.

What motivated you to complete your degree solely online or mixing ground and online classes?

During the third year of my undergraduate studies, I had my first child. At the time, I was left to do things on my own and had no family around to help me since I chose a school away from family and where I didn’t know anyone. It might not have seemed like a good idea, but I wanted an unfamiliar atmosphere that would help me grow and develop socially. In order to pay bills and finish school, I had to schedule classes and working hours during the time my son was in daycare (7am-6pm). By week’s end, I still wasn’t able to make ends meet. I had to sit in classes when I could have been working. When I graduated, I vowed any future classes and degree programs I enrolled in would be strictly online. Since I have been taking online courses, there has been a drastic shift from only being able to work 20 hours to 40 hours a week. I am now able to make ends meet and afford a new car.

How do you stay organized, what are some best practices and/or tips that you use to stay on top of your courses?

In order to stay organized, I use one spiral, divided notebook to write down the weekly assignments and their due dates. I keep a copy of all assignments and discussions I post saved in a “Webster” folder on both my computer and flash drive. All documents in the folder are saved in sub-folders titled by session and course number. Ex. (S2 2015 MGMT 5000)

Regardless of what course I’m taking, I always read the syllabus to find out what day of the week assignments and discussions are due since due dates are different for different courses. Working and having two kids at home makes things a little more challenging. The “Canvas” app for smart phones helps me keep up with everything. With it I can post, respond, create widgets for to-do and upcoming assignments, check grades, read modules, etc., all on the go and straight from my smartphone.

How does your schedule (work, family, military) impact your time to study?

As a working mother of two energetic boys (ages 5 and 1 ½), I am only able to study at night after 10pm and on weekends when they are asleep or visiting grandparents. Because that I work in the county library, I have down times where I can read chapters and work on assignments. I try my best to space things out during the week in order to get everything done on time. A section or two per night helps with long chapters.


Wilma Smith is a current online student pursuing a dual Master’s in Human Resources Management and Human Resources Development at Webster University.