"It was a beneficial experience and I would recommend it to any new student thinking of earning a Master's degree."
Wendy Woolfrey, 54, of West Chester, PA, graduated from University of the Rockies in June 2011 with a Master of Arts in Psychology, Mediation and Conflict Resolution specialization. We last spoke to her after she had just completed her second course.
Prior to attending University of the Rockies, Wendy had a long career as a nutritionist and a pre-school teacher. After receiving her Bachelor's degree in 1987, Woolfrey worked at a large hospital in Philadelphia. "My main job was to counsel cardiac patients with their new diets, and counseling new mothers on the nutritional needs of their new babies," she said. "This experience actually started my interest in psychology, because of the connection between the patient's frame of mind and her health issues."
Later, Woolfrey switched careers and began teaching toddlers at her local YMCA. "Working with two-year-old toddlers for so many years gave me many challenges to deal with – every issue you can imagine with children and parents," said Woolfrey. "This experience also introduced me to learning disabilities, and helping families accept the reality that a child may need some type of intervention. There is a need for a psychological approach to educating parents, guiding them toward early intervention, whether that be speech, physical, cognitive, or emotional.
"It was a tremendously fulfilling job," she continued, "because I really felt like I made a difference in some of the children's lives." But after more than seven years, she realized she needed to take the next step in her career, and that meant earning an advanced degree.
"The specific field of psychology that interests me is a unique mixture of cognitive, child development, and community health," said Woolfrey. "How exactly I'm going to combine all that and what I will call my practice will come to me over time, but my ultimate goal of a Master's degree is clear."
Over the course of several months, as Woolfrey researched her options on the Internet, she kept seeing ads for online graduate degree programs. University of the Rockies caught her attention, especially with the opportunity to take online courses and earn her Master of Arts in Psychology and specialize in Mediation and Conflict Resolution. She was surprised by how convenient it could be to study and do her coursework while at home.
Taking the first step of enrolling was not easy at first, and before that she had to overcome her fear. For the courage to do that, she credits Katie Beecher, her Admissions Counselor, who encouraged her to take the plunge. "Without Katie, I would not be enrolled at University of the Rockies today. It was such a big, frightening step to make this commitment." At one point, she said, "I was actually enrolled to start with the January session. But I panicked, and called Katie to drop out. She agreed to withdraw me from the January course, but would not let me drop out altogether. She made me promise that I'd start back up in February. So, I kept my promise, started in February, and so far, it is one of the best things I've done in ten years."
Wendy completed her coursework in October 2010 and graduated the following year after completing the comprehensive final exam. She is also happy to report that both of her children are now in college: her son attends State of New York Maritime College and her daughter is at West Chester University. Reflecting on her time at University of the Rockies, Wendy says, "It was a beneficial experience and I would recommend it to any new student thinking of earning a Master's degree." We look forward to hearing updates from Wendy on life as a Rockies alumnus.