When Lisa Whalen finished her bachelor’s degree in network and software engineering at New England Institute of Technology, in Rhode Island, she intended to continue there as a teacher. She started by looking into the Master of Arts in Teaching with Technology (MAT) program at Marlboro College Graduate School, but decided it would be better to pursue the master’s degree in her field of information technology (MSIT), which Marlboro also provided.
“I found everything I needed right online,” said Lisa. “I came up and saw the college and fell in love right away.” Because she was able to customize her degree and take a lot of pedagogy classes from the MAT program, now she is going for both the MAT and MSIT degrees, making her ideally equipped for teaching about technology.
Through her coursework at the graduate school, Lisa has started designing an innovative reading system called On My Own Reading, designed to build confidence in learners at any age. It includes separate programs for children, teens, adults and even a Braille set for the visually impaired. Although still in the prototype stage, she plans to continue developing the system and incorporate it into her Capstone project.
“I am actually going to be taking On My Own Reading to market because of what I learned here at the college, so I am very excited about that,” said Lisa. She was pleased to find a high level of engagement at the graduate school, where both the faculty and the students really want to be there and to work together. “The whole environment is amazing. I feel like the teachers are extremely passionate about what they are teaching. They are not just up there teaching the class, they live the class-that is what they do. I get a lot from that.”
Pursuing the dual degree is a huge time commitment for Lisa, who works full time for an online banking company as well as teaching part time at NEIT and doing a web design business on the side. Somehow she also manages to parent two teenagers and a six-year-old. “I don’t know what sleep is,” she said. “I will find out again some day.”
In the meantime, Lisa is enjoying the challenges of graduate school and the camaraderie she finds among her classmates. “I like the close knit atmosphere at Marlboro,” she said. “The smaller classroom sizes are definitely beneficial to me, because that way the instructors have time to work with everyone. It is not just sitting and listening to lectures; it’s incredibly hands on. You work together in groups-I never get bored.”