The desire to create a career led Ashley Nesbit to higher education. The goal to elevate that career keeps her coming back for more.
"I started out as a surgical technician and did that for about five years," she said. "I realized I was at the peak of where I was going to be. If I wanted to move ahead, I needed to go back to school."
Nesbit earned an associate degree and landed her current job as office manager at Crescent City Physicians in Metairie, Louisiana. Once she got a taste of management, Nesbit was hungry for more. So, she enrolled in Louisiana State University of Alexandria's online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program.
"I learned that the associate degree wasn't going to get me much further, so the bachelor's degree is going to allow me to be promoted to administration," she said. "I was at a crossroads in my life when I applied to surgical technician school. I knew that I didn't want to work these dead-end jobs. I wanted to have a career -- not just a job.
"Once I started the program, I really loved the sense of community that you have in the medical field. Everyone wants to help each other succeed. I really love that."
Nesbit's persistence paid off. Once she graduates from LSUA in May 2018, she will take another big step in her career.
"I've always been completely open with my plans with my boss and my company," she said. "They are waiting for me to get that piece of paper to move me into a practice manager position. I'll have some more responsibility and be at the halfway point to administration. Once I get there, I'll have a much larger office with more physicians and employees to manage. I'll be taken out of the clinical side altogether to do just administrative work."
Nesbit, 34, received a letter from LSUA about its online programs two months after she graduated with an Associate of Science in Business Administration and Management from Delgado Community College in 2014.
"I did not even know about the school or the program," she said. "I had planned on going to the University of New Orleans, but it was not an online program. When I found out the price and the schedule at LSUA, it was definitely a winner for me."
The online format, which allows students to complete schoolwork 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has been ideal for Nesbit to maintain a full-time job as she earns a bachelor's degree.
"I don't do well in the classroom," she said. "I like to move at my own pace, so I like doing the online classes. I'm a very organized person. I think that you have to be in order to do the online."
The flexibility of the program allows Nesbit to manage the time she works on school each week, which averages about 10 hours.
"I know what my schedule is for work, so I can easily plan out and know I have to do certain things on certain days," she said. "I plan it so I know what I'm doing each day and that I'm not falling behind.
"I'll typically do schoolwork after work from six to 10, if I have it in me, or sometimes I can get done quicker. It worked out better for me, and I don't have to drive somewhere, sit in a classroom and move at somebody else's pace."
Nesbit has thoroughly enjoyed the management-based courses in the BSBA online program curriculum, and several of the business courses have already proved applicable to her job.
"I thoroughly enjoy learning about people and why they act the way that they do and the systems within corporations and companies," she said. "That's very interesting to me. I've even been able to use situations that I've been in for assignments. Like, 'What would you do if this happens?' I'm like, 'Well, that actually did happen. Let me tell you about it.'"
Thirst for Knowledge
Although Nesbit plans to attend graduation in Alexandria before taking a trip to Cabo with her husband, Guy, she won't have much of a break from school. She plans to enroll in an online Master of Health Administration program at LSU Shreveport to help herself reach her ultimate goal of becoming a hospital administrator.
"I was going to do an MBA, but I wanted to do something more specific to my field and what I am going for," Nesbit said. "My adviser told me that it is fully online, too, and that it's really intense but a great program. Being in the same system, it won't be such a shock to me when I move into that program."
Nesbit, who enjoys reading and has three dogs, looks forward to the future and is very happy she received that letter and enrolled at LSUA.
"I would suggest this program to anyone looking to go back to school and get a bachelor's degree," she said. "Stay focused and don't give up because, in the end, it is going to pay off. It can be tough, but just stay focused."
Of course, plenty of support from family and friends along the way doesn't hurt, either.
"My parents, for sure, are super proud because they did not go to college," she said. "They're proud of me -- one, for going back at my age and, two, for doing it and sticking with it. It has gotten hard at times. I've had to take semesters here and there off. I've stuck with it, because I know in the end it's going to get me where I want to be."
Learn more about the LSUA online BSBA program.
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