Sometimes, the path to a degree doesn’t follow a straight line. Shifting interests and life circumstances can turn your path and the road may stretch on longer than expected – but that’s all part of the lifelong journey of education.
Consider Amanda Bailey, who first enrolled at SUNY Broome after graduating Maine-Endwell High School in 1998. She initially enrolled in dental hygiene, but soon realized the major wasn’t a good fit.
Along the way, she became a full-time Broome County dispatcher, a job she came to love – but she didn’t give up on higher education. For years, she took a class or two a semester, tackling general education courses and pursuing her interests – until she found the perfect fit with Homeland Security.
“I asked myself, ‘what do I really want to study?’ I always felt I needed that extra challenge,” she reflected.
Broome County offers tuition reimbursement for programs relevant to the workplace, which led Amanda to her current major. Outside of her dispatching career, she also volunteered as a firefighter for years and worked in emergency medical services, aligning her interests with SUNY Broome’s programs in Criminal Justice and Emergency Services.
“The Homeland Security program really fits with the interactions between police, fire and emergency services,” she said. “I get one side from the dispatching aspect. From my classes, I learn the hows and whys. It really makes sense when I’m putting that together.”
A class at a time
Amanda declared her major in 2015, and is completing her degree in Fall 2019. By taking a class at a time, she can focus her efforts – and also accommodate the 12-hour shifts she works as a dispatcher. Evening and online classes have proved to be convenient options, although she has also taken vacation time to attend class.
Favorite professors include James Sheerin, who teaches Introduction to Homeland Security; Eric Kelley for criminal investigations; and Michael Hatch, who forges meaningful connections with students. Even with her years of experience as a dispatcher, Amanda learned some surprising facts.
“I didn’t realize how much work went into investigating a crime scene. Drawings have to be always perfect,” she said. “I now understand why you need people specifically dedicated to that.”
Not all of her classes have a law-and-order theme. She takes courses just for fun, too, including Professor Patricia Evans’ History of Decorative Arts. The online course was an enjoyable change of pace for someone who doesn’t consider herself “an art person.”
As a reward for earning her degree, she will also take the London and Literature global experiences course in Spring 2020, which culminates an eight-day study tour in the United Kingdom. She’s excited by the prospect – and the fact that the credits will apply toward the next stop on her journey: a bachelor’s degree through Excelsior College.
“I’m going to keep going for my bachelor’s degree through Excelsior College. I love the challenge of it and learning something new. I would really be lost if I stopped here,” she said of her educational future.
Amanda Bailey isn’t entirely sure where her degree in Homeland Security will take her, and continues to enjoy her career as a dispatcher.
Bit by bit through the years, this lifelong-learner expanded her knowledge and skills. During that same span of time, she has also watched SUNY Broome continue to develop and grow around her, from new buildings to additional areas of study.
“SUNY Broome has developed so much. There’s always something happening. It’s amazing how cheerful campus is,” she reflected. “It feels like it’s always changing and adding new programs.”
Even if you’re unsure of your future path, SUNY Broome is a great place to start – something that Amanda knows well.
“If you don’t know what to take, find something you enjoy and go for it,” she advised. “Maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for.”