Summer Spotlight Series: University of Phoenix
Posted on July 14, 2016
We are excited to welcome you to the Summer Spotlight Series, a weekly blog series focusing on Earn Up’s regional college and university partners.
Each week, the blog will feature a college or university in the Northeast Florida region and a brief Q&A with an academic representative from that institution.
Our very first partner in the spotlight is University of Phoenix. The University of Phoenix, which was founded in 1976, currently has over 91 campuses worldwide and offers more than 200 degree and certificate programs, both online and on campus.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Lindalee Berk, the Campus Director at the North Florida campus of University of Phoenix.
Q: Where is your hometown and what brought you to Northeast Florida?
A: I was born and raised in a tiny town in Ohio called Tipp City, which is near Dayton. I went to Ohio State for my undergrad program and then progressively moved south. When I first moved south, I ended up outside of Hilton Head, South Carolina. I actually started with University of Phoenix as an academic counselor in 2006 in Savannah, Georgia. Then I ended up in Jacksonville in late 2009, again moving down here for my current job at University of Phoenix.
Q: Tell us about your experience as a student at your alma mater, The Ohio State University.
A: I definitely was a traditional student, so I went to Ohio State right after graduating high school in the fall and had a great experience! I had, I think, just the normal experience going to a traditional school and it was great for that time in my life. I got my undergrad in sociology because I really love the study of people and all of the cultures and various things that can impact how people act and react and become who they are.
Q: What drew you to Earn Up and what makes you excited to be a part of the collaboration?
A: When we [University of Phoenix] started to learn about Earn Up, the mission of Earn Up really made us go: “We need to be a part of this because this is exactly what we are trying to do”.
Our “traditional” student is typically in their 30s, so that “adult learner” group that Earn Up targets really resonated with us when we started to look into Earn Up and what was going on with Earn Up and our community. The other piece is the military and veteran student component. We have definitely wanted to maintain all the partnerships with the military and obviously, with Jacksonville being a huge military town, we want to be supportive in our community, too. So, those two targeted groups of Earn Up, the adult learners and the veterans, mean a lot to us from the stance that we feel like we do a really good job with those types of students . The partnership with Earn Up definitely made sense to us!
Q: Why is college attainment important to you?
A: At University of Phoenix, our mission is to help our students with their education. But it’s not just to impact them; it’s to impact their families, their community, and future generations. For our students, this [working towards a degree] is something that maybe they started before and never finished and now it’s finally time that they get to do it, or they now feel more empowered to do it at this point in their lives. And the bottom line is that we want to see our students succeed and go on to get that bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. So, motivating them to complete their programs and classes is really important.
Q: What are some of the major initiatives that University of Phoenix is focusing on right now?
A: Right now, we are really trying to make sure that we are engaging the market completely. Part of that is what we call “Community College Partnerships”. The reality is that a lot of state colleges here still aren’t able to offer all of the programs that a student may want, so we build upon partnerships that we have with those schools, like Florida State College at Jacksonville and St. Johns River State College, and make sure that, when the students want to transfer over from those schools to University of Phoenix, they are able to do that and stay on course with their credits and classes. That way, we can be another way a student can make sure they are finishing that education.
Another thing is that we are really trying to increase awareness about our programs and the campus here in Jacksonville. A lot of times when people think of University of Phoenix, they think it’s completely online, but we are here in Jacksonville, you can take a class with us at the campus with the faculty right in front of you and other students sitting beside you, and that blows people away.
We also do a lot of events in the community, like career fairs and entrepreneur events, because community engagement is another really big focus. The up and coming thing that we are really excited about is on July 22nd and that is our Women Rise Leadership Conference. We just secured eight panelists that are women leaders in our community and we are going to have a Q&A with them and it will be a great opportunity for the audience to be engaged and listen to what these women have to say about being a leader.
Q: What sets University of Phoenix apart from other colleges and universities?
A: One of the main things is that we have various modalities [i.e. online and on-campus programs] so that whatever the student needs, there’s going to be a way that they can go to school and still be a full time parent and a full time employee. Even if someone works full time or is raising a family full time, we’ve got a way they can still finish their undergrad or go back to school for their MBA while still being able to do all those other things.
We really make it so that you’re taking one class at a time, but it’s considered full time because they are faster. So that’s a huge piece, I think, for our students, is that it makes it attainable, it feels like its something that they can do while still being able to do all of the other things in their life.
Another piece is that we feel that we build important relationships with our advisors and our students. We really want to make sure that our students have that motivator of “you can do it”. A lot of our students are first-time college students and sometimes they just need that extra “we believe in you”, you know? So, we definitely try to make sure that students know about that resource from the very beginning and we do everything we can to motivate them to attain that certification or degree.
If you are interested in learning more about the University of Phoenix North Florida Campus and the programs offered, click here.