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Issue 14: 11/29/2016
Success story 1
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J. Yvette Brice-Hartley, a business process analyst in the information technology department of the State Treasurer of Ohio’s office, decided to study for an advanced degree to improve her career. In doing that, she has improved much more than she anticipated. She developed a deeper understanding of how organizations work and how she can encourage people through building relationships.

“I never intended to go to school for the last 20 years of my life,” Brice-Hartley said. “I was going to get a degree and then get a better job.”

“In getting a better job, there were more opportunities afforded to me,” she added, referring to the OCSEA Union Education Trust. “After I started my journey, I decided I’d continue it.”

Brice-Hartley had earned her bachelor’s degree in business and information systems from DeVry University in October 1999. She began working at the Treasurer of State office in January 2000. Just a year after graduating from DeVry, Brice-Hartley met a representative from Central Michigan University at an OCSEA education fair in the lobby of the Rhodes Tower.

“She explained that there was money available to assist with the cost of returning to school,” Brice-Hartley said. “I enrolled and began taking courses almost immediately.”

The UET programs enabled her to continue her studies, not only earning a master’s degree from Central Michigan University in information resource management in 2007, but also a master’s degree in organizational leadership from the university in 2011.

“For my master’s degrees, timing was the only cost to me,” Brice-Hartley said. “I didn’t have to pay for anything other than resource materials.”

Brice-Hartley then continued at the University of Phoenix in 2012 and is now two classes and one dissertation away from earning her doctorate in organizational leadership. She anticipates graduating this June.

She is already planning out her dissertation: “I want to spring board off my certification in church organization and leadership,” she said. “I’m leaning toward working with women who come in through church and other outreach organizations.”

Brice-Hartley knows she can share her skills and knowledge with others, whether they are returning to work or getting a first job. She’d like to work with them on a daily framework on how to organize your life: how to use tools and resources available to you for finances, education and healthy living.

“That prepares them to go out into the workforce,” she said. “You won’t grow if you don’t know. Sometimes you need someone to follow.”

Brice-Hartley began her continuing education career earning certificates in Microsoft Word and Excel and taking basic digital courses.

“There was a time when there was a freeze on raises which left me with not a lot to look forward to,” she said. “So I decided to use what they are offering for school.”

“It’ll come in handy some day,” she added.

She’s found it’s come in handy already, both as a state employee and as an OCSEA steward.

“My courses have helped me gain a different perspective on how organizations operate as a whole,” Brice-Hartley said. “I work in my office on the labor-management team, I am a union steward, and I have worked on the contract negotiations since 2006. I think my education and experience allow me to be less judgmental and more intuitive about the issues concerning union employees.”

Her experiences have also helped her co-workers, Brice-Hartley said. She has helped others navigate through the UET voucher request and enrollment.

“Over the years, I have always encouraged my peers to take advantage of the education benefits,” she said. “I had one peer thank me for the information and say she was inspired to return to school.”

Brice-Hartley’s co-worker Gregory Stapleton was also spurred on by her encouragement: “I have bugged him for years to complete his master’s degree,” she said, adding that he has now taken 18 hours of course work.

“I expect that he will complete his educational journey,” she said. “But like everything, timing is essential.”