Alumni Spotlight: Toyshika Epps

Online Classes Helped Toyshika Epps Fulfill a Family Dream

By Stacey Batchellor |   August 2010

Toyshika Epps , Alumnus

"I  owe my diploma to my parents," says Toyshika  Epps. "They told me to never give up." Toyshika recently earned her Bachelor of Science in Information Systems  Management from UMUC, making her the first in her family to graduate from  college.

  There  were many times that Toyshika did feel like giving up, but was motivated to  continue by her parents, who never had the opportunity to attend college  themselves. As a single mother trying to raise her son while working full-time  and attending college, Toyshika struggled to make it work. “It took a long time for me to convince myself that what I was doing would  benefit him [her son] in the long run.”   

  Toyshika first  began attending college while working for the National Institutes of Health  (NIH) as a computer specialist, but says she was “not able  to work full-time and attend classes in person successfully.”

  Disheartened  by her initial attempt to earn her degree through on-site classes, she began  looking into colleges that offered online programs. When Toyshika received a flyer  in the mail about UMUC’s online degree program, she was sold. “UMUC had the  advantage because of their accreditation…the highest compared to other online schools,” says Toyshika.  

This  time around, Toyshika was able to successfully work full-time and attend four to  five classes a semester. “I took all of my UMUC classes online. With my work schedule and being  at the time a single mother, I didn’t want to be away from my son more than I  had to," she explains.  "The  hours of operation were a plus—most of the work was due on Sunday,  giving me all week to study. And I just loved how easy  it was to use the Web site to communicate and submit your work," Toyshika adds.

Now that she's earned her bachelor's degree, Toyshika is ready to continue on her educational journey. "Although it has taken me  since 1996 to get my first degree," says Toyshika, "I decided to sign up for a master’s degree with  UMUC, which I’ve already started!”

  Toyshika  is proud to have fulfilled her parents' dreams, as well as reached her own personal  goals. She is currently working at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  as a help desk manager. Toyshika knows she is fortunate to have a job where she can  do what she “honestly loves doing,” working with computers and helping people.  As for her future career plans, she says she would “love to give back to UMUC  and teach for them one day online.”