For years, Annie Allen devoted herself to her family — often putting personal goals aside so she could concentrate on raising her children.
As her kids grew older, however, she had a little more time to focus on her own dreams. She says, “I wanted to be ready to do my own thing.”
As a volunteer and freelance contractor, Annie says, “I had done all kinds of graphic design work for local businesses and nonprofits, creating brochures and other marketing materials.”
She knew she enjoyed this work and felt a degree might help her develop it into a full-time career. There was just one problem.
“My family was established in the Kansas City area,” she says, “and relocating wasn’t an option.” When she found Missouri State’s professional writing program, which offers a fully online path to completion, she knew she might have a solution.
“I was happy it was offered by a well-known university because I had worried that people might question an online program,” she says. “I even asked a few prospective employers, ‘If I had this degree from this university, would this be viable for you?’ And they all said, ‘Absolutely.'”
As an added bonus, the program knit together two interest areas in a way that was specifically right for Annie’s goals.
“This was the only program I found where I would get to study writing while also working with document design, addressing what is important visually.”
“And in some ways,” she says, “it was better to be online only because my focus was completely on how my words and designs were speaking for me.”
Annie completed the program in just over two years, becoming the first professional writing graduate to take 100 percent of her courses online. She and her family traveled to Springfield to attend her graduation ceremony.
“It felt great to have the people that matter the most with me. It summarized what the college experience this late in life meant to me,” she says.
Renewed confidence, new goals
Annie is currently focused on expanding her own business. “I market myself as the marketing department for the small business,” she says.
“If I had to choose one word that the degree gave me, it would be ‘confidence.’ I can now go out and sell what I do and be confident that my skills are worth it,” she says.
And as a returning student, she valued the guidance of Jaime Ross in the office of adult student services. “Her support, advice, encouragement and eventual friendship were pivotal to my success,” she says.
While expanding her career opportunities originally motivated Annie to pursue her degree, she now sees the experience as much more than a point on her resumé.
“Since my business is taking off much more quickly than I had expected,” she says, “I may not ever go into a full-time corporate world where I’d need a degree to get my foot in the door. But it was about so much more than that to me. It was about challenging myself to do something hard; it was about my own personal development.”