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Issue 10: 8/6/2013

Learning at every opportunity

Learning at every opportunity

Last year Ohio Department of Public Safety Customer Service Assistant 2 Patty Jackson saw an online listing promoting the agency’s Excel class. It was to be offered the very next day. Like she does with nearly all training that comes her way, Jackson took the class.

“I try to take any and every opportunity,” Jackson said. “Any time that I can find something challenging or creative to do, I’m going to do it.”

She’s applied the same philosophy to the Union Education Trust benefits. Jackson, a 21-year state employee who has been with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle’s Department of Public Safety for five years, has earned two degrees using her OCSEA education benefits. She already had her bachelor’s degree in communications from West Virginia State University when she went back to school as a non-traditional student. She earned her bachelor’s of science subsequent degree in business administration from Franklin University in 2005.

Then when the Union Education Trust rolled out the Career Improvement Program, which offers financial assistance for college-credit courses and vocational training and specialty education, Jackson decided to study for her master’s degree.

“I was kind of bored,” Jackson said, laughing.“I’ve always liked school and always tried to learn more.”

“I want to keep myself abreast of what’s going on and learn new things,” she said.

Jackson earned her master’s degree in marketing communications in January 2010.

“I loved it,” Jackson said of her studies.“There were some times it was hard. It was a lot of work.”

Even in undergraduate classes, Jackson experienced the work world in the classroom: “They treat you like you’re in the board room. For every assignment, we’d have to get up and speak in front of the class,” she said.“That built up my confidence. You had to be in front of people, constantly.”

In a similar fashion, Jackson uses the skills she learned when she communicates with the public, she said.

“When everybody is looking at you, it helps,” she said. “I learned to make a quick assessment of my audience. You learn how to think quickly.”

Jackson would like to enhance those public speaking skills. She’s looking at using UET’s Professional Enhancement Program benefit to pay for a class on public speaking.

Jackson has already used UET’s Professional Enhancement Program, which offers non-college credit, short-term training opportunities. The financial assistance that UET offers makes going to school – for a degree or a short-term training – much easier, Jackson said.

“It was a tremendous help,” she said of funding her degree. “UET contributed a lot.”

“I appreciate that program. It was wonderful,” Jackson said.

Jackson has been encouraging her co-workers to use the UET benefits.

“I try to motivate as many people as I can,” she said. “I’ve been pushing at a couple of my co-workers. I see the potential in them.”

Jackson herself isn’t necessarily done furthering her education.

“I’ve even been entertaining the idea of getting a PhD,” she said. “I’ve been taking a break but now it’s been a couple of years.”

It may not be this year, she added, but she’s been looking at some of the local schools. Jackson knows that with the UET benefit available, she can tackle anything.

“It’s given me a lot of confidence, more confidence,” she said.