Anna Boone thought she had her future planned out. Once she graduated with an associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography, she was eager to start a career in the field of ultrasound.
There was only one problem.
"There were not any jobs," she said. "I spent almost a year looking for a job and ended up taking one doing something completely unrelated to my field. Somewhere in that time period, I got a postcard from LSUA.
"What was funny was, I had gone to LSUA in the flesh -- years earlier -- and completed about three semesters. I got the postcard and said, 'I didn't know LSUA had an online program.' I was able to do that while I was working."
Just like that, Boone enrolled at LSUA again.
This time, she balanced a full-time job as an endoscopy technician with being a single mother of three -- Aidan (18), Lily (9) and Lucy (7) -- and graduated from the online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program in Fall 2017.
"The reason I chose business is I felt like I could do more than just healthcare," Boone said. "Now that I have graduated, I'm looking at graduate school and have also accepted a new job as a business analyst at IBM's office in Baton Rouge. That's what I liked about the business degree -- it let me change fields. It gave me flexibility for the future."
Anna of All Trades
When Boone was an on-campus student at LSUA, she worked for EyeMasters, a national optometry chain. She became a retail manager with the company when she moved back home to Baton Rouge.
"My intention was to finish the degree I had started at LSUA at LSU in Baton Rouge," she said. "That just never wound up happening because of life."
She completed the Associate of Applied Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at Baton Rouge Community College in 2014.
When she couldn't find an ultrasound job, Boone went to work for St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Gonzales, Louisiana, in 2015. She started as a ward clerk at the hospital. Boone then worked as a telemetry monitor, a pre-admittance surgical clerk and then an endoscopy technician. She enrolled at LSUA the same year she started at St. Elizabeth's.
"I didn't have any trouble balancing everything," Boone said. "For the most part, the work could be done. Every assignment had a fixed date it was due. You just had to plan when you were going to work on it and turn it in. Most of them had a predictable pattern of classwork, too. None of it was spur of the moment, like, 'Hey, I need you to do this right now.' It was posted. It was clear. You had your books -- you read. You knew when everything was expected."
Boone started seeing more opportunities become available after she has earned a bachelor's degree. Those opportunities quickly materialized when Boone was offered that new business analyst job with IBM's Global Business Services division.
"It's shocking when you see all of the jobs you are qualified for," she said. "It helped, too, because I had some background in management. I ran a retail store. It felt like getting the bachelor's degree brought that together. It's funny how getting the degree makes that look better."
On a Mission
Another reason Boone enrolled in a business degree program in her second stint at LSUA was because she would like to return to a supervisory role.
"My experience with ultrasound burned me on having a very specific skillset," she said. "I liked the business angle of it. One of the things that happened while I was working all of these weird jobs in the hospital was I got to have a big, broad view of the whole organization and all of the little pieces. I figured out that what I really want to do is have an administration role. I said, 'I want to run this. I don't want to do any of this anymore. I want to be in charge.'"
Although she was inexperienced with online education, Boone found the transition to a fully online program smooth. She especially liked the structure and organization of the online format.
"Most of the classes would have at least 10 hours of work per week attached to them, if you count the reading," she said. "Some of them would be more. Some classes had weekly writing assignments. When you got to the upper-level classes, some of the papers and projects you had to work on might not be weekly. You might have something that was due at the end of the seven weeks, and you couldn't just do that in the sixth week. You had to work on it in addition to the other stuff you were working on."
Boone said she enjoyed the economics courses taught by Dr. Bob Jones the most.
"He had recorded lectures you were required to watch," she said. "I spent a lot of time on the class, but having the lectures was really good. He gave great lectures. He let you take notes on the lectures and send him your notes. You got bonus points for doing that, but I never really felt like I needed it. Just watching the lectures was enough to get an 'A.' He was a good teacher. His classes were always my favorites."
Boone was also intrigued by how well courses like MATH 1431: Calculus with Business and Economic Applications and CMST 2060: Public Speaking translated to the online format.
"With calculus, I thought, 'How is this going to work?'" she said. "It was probably the best math class I've ever taken. You couldn't go any further until you understood what you had just been doing. It was really intuitive at checking your work and telling you what you did wrong."
In public speaking, Boone needed an audience for some assignments.
"I had to coordinate six people to get together to watch me," she said. "I had to do this at work because that's the only place I had six people that I could get. It would be, 'Hey, I'm doing a speech in about 15 minutes. Do you want to meet me in this conference room?' I had janitors and people coming in who were already off."
More to Come
If everything works out, Boone plans to start an MBA program, most likely in the LSU system, in the fall. She's still weighing her options -- including the option to stay with online education -- within the university system.
Boone appreciates the support from her family and friends since she returned to college to increase her career opportunities and finish what she started.
"My parents are very excited," she said. "They thought I was never going to graduate. It was one of those things like, 'It only took you how long? Okay, that's wonderful.'"
Boone is also glad she was able to set an example for her children with higher education.
"It was a good experience for them to watch me go to school as an adult," she said. "To them, going to school is obviously important because, 'Look what mom did.' If there were videos I had to watch, they would be on my shoulder watching the videos with me."
Although her original plan to work in the ultrasound field did not come to fruition, Boone is excited about the future now that she has found online education.
"One of the biggest things that holds people back is the time," she said. "They think, 'Oh, it's going to take this long. It's going to take three or four years.' My best advice is that the time is going to pass anyway. Those three years are going to pass, whether you are getting a degree or not. It's better to do it sooner rather than later. In the 90s, it was difficult to go to school and work. If they had online degrees back then, I'd probably have a doctorate by now."Learn more about the LSUA online BS in Business Administration program.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.