Sara Cannon of Lancaster, Penn. is the first graduate recipient of the EKU Omega Nu Lambda Scholarship. The award is based on academic achievement, community service and success as an online student.
Sara’s career path started in human services. Her bachelor’s degree in psychology gave her opportunities to work with adults with developmental disabilities and individuals dealing with substance abuse. Later, she served as a liaison in a social security/disability law office.
Each role was interesting and rewarding, but she always felt she wanted to make more of a difference. Through a volunteer position with her church, she got to know immigrants and their families. She began to think more seriously about a job based in civil rights and opportunities to help people navigate the complicated immigration process.
“I knew a project manager in Catholic Relief Services, and I talked with her about how she got the job,” she said. That’s how Sara learned about the benefits of a master’s degree in public administration.
“It sounded like a degree that could be useful no matter what I decided to do next,” she remembered. Courses in administrative law, public policy, human resources and finance prepare students for a variety of jobs. In her legal job, Sara enjoyed helping clients navigate laws and public policies, so public administration was an ideal choice.
EKU Online worked for her because she could continue in her full-time job while earning her degree. It also allowed for flexibility, which she appreciated when her husband’s graduate degree and job search required a move from Georgia to Pennsylvania. She was able to continue her assignments with no interruptions.
As she has completed her degree, Sara has gained confidence in everything from preparing a research project to cultivating her management style. Two of her go-to leadership lessons are: Meeting others’ needs first and modeling the characteristics she values.
“When you think about it, you see this done everywhere,” said Sara. “Parents do that at home. I know the lawyer I work for does it for me. The role models that have made the biggest difference in my life have all done that,” she explained.
Her EKU professors have also become her role models. Since EKU professors teach online and on campus, Sara was initially concerned that they might view online students as an afterthought. In reality, she has found the opposite to be true. They set high standards, but they hold themselves accountable, too.
“They take the time to answer all my questions, and I know they do that for others in the class, too. It’s good to see that level of commitment from professors,” she said.
Sara’s MPA coursework has helped her fine-tune her career goals. With her education, she can examine the laws, political factors and social factors that impact civil rights for refugees and others. She recently accepted a position in an immigration attorney’s office and may take on a more prominent role there after graduation.