Student Spotlight: Karissa Poe

Karissa Poe Pursues a Double Master’s Degree Online


By Stacey Batchellor |   July 2010

Karissa Poe , Student

As a full-time working mother and military spouse, hectic days and frequent moves are a way of life for Karissa Poe. So when she decided to go back to school to earn her master’s degree, she knew she’d need to find an educational program that could accommodate her busy, on-the-move lifestyle. After hearing great reviews from students who she had met at her job at an education center in Germany, she chose UMUC for the flexibility of its online courses.

"The online education experience was appealing to me because I was working full-time and could not begin to think about sitting in a classroom until late at night," says Karissa.

Although Karissa already has a bachelor’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, she was finding it difficult to obtain a job in the field. In addition, she wanted a master’s degree to make herself competitive in the job market. Upon hearing that she could earn her master’s degree in Health Care Administration (HCA) and complete just 18 additional credits to obtain her Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) from UMUC, it was a no-brainer for Karissa. “I thought to myself, why not do it all one time and be twice as qualified?”

Though it hasn’t always been easy to juggle school and home life, Karissa’s hard work and determination have prevailed. Taking two classes a semester, she was able to earn her first master’s degree in just two years, entirely online. Karissa immediately began taking classes to earn her MBA. She expects to reach her goal of earning a dual degree in the areas of health care administration and business administration by December 2009.

Karissa credits the flexibility of UMUC’s online program with allowing her to pursue her education while still maintaining a full-time job and taking care of her family. The accessibility of the online classes has been another convenience, allowing her to take classes from anywhere in the world. “I could go online and post an assignment or check a class announcement from any Internet source at any time,” says Karissa. "A ‘traditional’ college program would not have worked for me and my family."

When comparing "traditional" on-site classes with online classes, Karissa says she feels she has gotten just as much of a learning experience and personal enrichment from the online classes.

"UMUC’s online classes have been very interactive and the education I have obtained is very valuable," says Karissa. When looking to the future, Karissa is confident that her dual master’s degree will give her the competitive edge in the field of health care administration, and someday hopes to become a CEO or CFO of a hospital.